Many of the people I’ve met on the road, and some of my own friends and acquaintances, approach traveling in a way that confuses me. These individuals go to a new country or city never intending to visit again. Some go just to knock it off their list. Others have a bad experience and just won’t give it a second chance. The problem is, with this outlook, this traveler is only hurting themselves.
See It Twice . . .
There are few instances in life where you could visit a place, especially for a short period of time (vacation), and truly see and experience everything that the destination has to offer. Maybe there’s an atoll somewhere in the Indian Ocean that is uninhabited and can be simply “checked off a list,” but examples such as this are rare.
My goal, both with this website and when talking in person about it, is to promote the love of travel and seeing as much of the world as possible. This will undoubtedly make one a better person, but it must be done in a culturally-conscious way. I believe that it is better for one to gain a more in-depth knowledge and appreciation for another place or culture than to see hundreds of other places once, and I wouldn’t trade the former for the latter.
. . . Once Shouldn’t Suffice
Almost anything could cause our instincts and attitudes to want to avoid a place for the second time. The number one reason for most people I asked was “a bad experience” of some sort. You could’ve had rain for the entire vacation. Perhaps you have gotten robbed or held up at gunpoint. Or maybe you become sick from drinking water which wasn’t the most potable. However, in my opinion, these kinds of excuses are exactly why you should return. These places need a second chance to try to express and make known the good that it has to offer.
Let me use a food reference as an example. I constantly have Couchsurfers visit from other parts of the world, as well also many friends. When they come to visit New York City, I almost always take them out to eat. Since these people may not be used to the food we have in the U.S., and the myriad options available to me in New York, I often try to get them to eat something “new.”
Give Each Place a Second Chance
A friend I took to a seafood restaurant had tried an oyster once previously, but she didn’t like the feeling when she swallowed it, and she attributed the next morning’s stomach queasiness to that lone oyster, and had never had them since. I begged her to try again with me, because I had taken her to a restaurant that has some of the best oysters I know of. She complied, probably because I had taken her there and was going out of my way to show her around, but hey, whatever works!
After trying one oyster, she recalibrated her opinion almost instantaneously, and ate many more that night; she was also not sick the next morning. I take a bit of pride knowing that I got her to give this another try. Destinations are similar, but on a grander scale. You are passing up people, traditions, history, culture, and more if you don’t give them a second chance.
* In hindsight, the only direction where I tend to see things clearly, my wallet would have been happier trying to help her overcome her distaste for anything other than oysters in Manhattan – perhaps peanuts or pepperoni or popcorn – but I’ve since recovered financially and am once again proud to have been the one to get her to reconsider :)
One More Reason
There’s another reason to never plan on not coming back subsequent times. It is virtually impossible to build up any kind of relationships like this. When I travel, I meet some of the greatest and most helpful people ever. Traveling puts me in touch with the kind of people I want to keep in touch with. Had I ever sustained a one-shot attitude like this, I would have so many fewer friends.
However badly you were turned off of a destination before, give it a second chance; the slate should be wiped clean upon your return, as this succinct quote states:
“You can never visit the same place twice. Each time, it’s a different story. By the very act of coming back, you wipe out what came before.”
― Maureen Johnson, The Last Little Blue Envelope