Solo Travel: You Can’t Go Home Again

Returning to favorite spots brings an anticipation of that memorable experience, but I’ve learned my lesson.  Like rereading a book that you love or watching a great movie 10 years later, it will be different because you are different. It’s even more complex than that because the place you love will be different as well.

Like most travelers in 2021, I’m here at home and, with you, hoping that we’ll be travelling more freely soon. I can’t quite get up the gumption to plan the next big trip. Is it fear of disappointment or pandemic-stoked indecision?

In any case, I make lists of favorite destinations to stitch together for the perfect trip. Even more intoxicating is adding in the unfinished visits, those places where you had just enough time to realize you needed much more time to explore.

Do you find that, against all logic and world awareness, you expect an iconic place you visited to remain like a museum wrapped in dust clothes, waiting for you return? Even the actual museums don’t stay the same.  You’re walking down ‘that street with the fantastic sandwich kiosk and the old men playing dominoes near the quay’ and it’s not there. The neighborhood has changed, the people are younger or older, and no sandwiches because they’ve all gone keto.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely going back. My wish is to get back to the Scottish Highlands and the islands as soon as possible.  But this time, I will go with a spirit of curiosity about change itself, an openness to a new experience with a fond memory.  I will adamantly expect a new experience not a repeat.

Practical Thoughts

  • How will you as a traveler be different? What new travel skills and experience do you have now?
  • Has the pandemic left you with different sensibilities? You may actually be better at self-management and tackling problems on your own but do you feel differently about crowds now? Maybe you have a heightened concern about hygiene? (I, for one, am not giving up street food.)
  • And last, you may not have the same sense of surprising wonder. There is a little sadness in this. Experience is a benefit and a damper.  You may have to raise the bar to have that sense of wonder and accomplishment.

A last story on revisiting your dream spots. On my last trip before Covid, I returned to a gorgeous glamping spot on a Scottish island. I couldn’t wait. On the first visit, this gorgeous remote spot was my respite after arriving exhausted, learning to drive on the left, board ferries, survive roundabouts, and avoid sheep in the road. I marveled at the tiny perfection and luxury of my little hut. On my return, though, I was more experienced. So many things were easier, and I was at full speed. Without that novelty, I found I was actually lonely there. It was a great visit, but I found I had to revamp my daily itinerary with this lovely place as my accommodation but not my activity. 

Of course, this was also where I stepped off a ledge in the dark, landed on a wheelbarrow, upside down in my PJs, and have the scars to prove it, so there was some novelty after all.

One comment on “Solo Travel: You Can’t Go Home Again

  1. Jamie says:

    This has been one of my joys about traveling to Ireland multiple times.


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