American novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote “you can’t go home again,” and literally that makes sense because we can’t go back in time to home — except in memory.  And memories are tricky, psychologically speaking.  Even if we went back “home” to an actual geographical place, most likely it’s changed.  So if we can’t go home, then we can only go forward.  It seems to me that the concept of returning to familiar places is underexplored.

These musings led me to an article on why travelers return to the same destinations again and again.  It was fitting to find the article having returned to the Los Cabos, Mexico timeshare which I have returned annually for the past six years.  It also holds happy memories of being here with loved ones, but now I travel on my own.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.– Anonymous

Each year, I say to myself that this will be the last year because there are other places to explore in February, escaping New England winter.  But each year I return and it’s time to ask myself why.


Yesterday, I was alone walking on the beach and it just came to my mind that I was in touch with a profound sadness and it surprised me.  But it also comforted me to label a feeling that I had been too busy to recognize or let into consciousness.  Saying to myself that I felt a profound sense of sadness was in some paradoxical way freeing.  Everyone feels sadness at times.  I hadn’t let mine in until I was face to face with the Sea of Cortez, the sounds of the eternal rhythm of waves, and the feeling of coarse sand under my feet.  I registered the feeling and kept walking.  Perhaps that’s one reason why I return — to reconnect with myself by discovering what solitude elicits!


What does this have to do with YOU and why you may return to the same travel destination over and over again?

Travel experts have identified at least ten qualities.  [Special thanks to Caroline Bologna of the Huffington Post for her article.]  Last night at dinner, I asked three people who also return each year why?  Strikingly, they came up with many of the same reasons that travel experts report.  Now what about you?  Take my quiz to identify the reasons you return to the same destination over and over again.

Begin by considering to what extent each of these statements describes why you return to the same travel destination — on a one to five scale:

  • One = “definitely not”
  • Two = “somewhat not”
  • Three = “neither yes or no”
  • Four = “somewhat yes”
  • Five = “definitely yes”

I RETURN FOR …

  1. my emotional attachment to the place.  
  2. my connection to the local culture and community.
  3. the rich history. 
  4. the unique beauty.
  5. the amazing food.
  6. the familiarity of the place.
  7. the obscure exploration I can pursue.
  8. the family tradition continued.
  9. the special treatment I receive.
  10. the easy access to different experiences.

Now look at your scores.  If you score 40 to 50 points, you clearly have found a place where you “can go home again and again.” Scores of 26 to 39 suggest that you have your reasons but maybe there is another destination that calls to you worthwhile exploring.  If you scored 10 to 25 points, there is no reason not to return, but perhaps it’s time to seek out more from your destination.

I am interested in why YOU return.  Please share your reasons in the comments.

Expressive Links

You Can’t Go Home Again – Wikipedia

Sense of Place – Wikipedia

Travel Experts Explain Why People Return to the Same Place Again and Again

Sharing Stories of Familiar Places and the Emotional Geographies of Family Travel back ‘Home’