Return Holidays: Why You Can't Discount a Repeat Trip

I believe I can speak for all travel junkies out there when I say that traveling to new and previously unexplored places is addicting. The thrill of seeing something amazing for the first time, or undergoing a totally new experience, gives those of us who love travel something equivalent to an adrenaline rush. The anticipation of an adventure somewhere new is almost as exciting as the journey itself.

However, there is something to be said about returning to a tried and true locale repeatedly. Getting to know the landscape of a well-loved travel site intimately can make the world seem so much more homey. Re-visiting the same place annually may not be all shiny new bells and whistles, but return holidays do have significant benefits that can't be overlooked.

For the last eight years, my husband's family and I have spent one week of our summers vacationing at a rental home in Invermere, B.C. It is a fantastic way for my husband to reconnect with his mother, and brother and sister and their kids, as we don't live in the same city as them. It is a great way for me to get to know my in-laws much better. It is a perfect chance to exercise our title as "best auntie and uncle" - yes, that's right, the BEST. And since we've had children, it has been an absolute joy to watch our little ones grow close to their older cousins.

The view from our Invermere cabin rental. Loving life this summer!

Occasionally, I get an urge to beg our group to plan a vacation elsewhere. After this long re-visiting one place, I feel like we've seen and done all the area has to offer. I long to go somewhere new, with new sights and experiences to occupy us. Sometimes, I wonder if it wouldn't be better for us to bow out of the trip altogether in favour of a more intimate family trip, with just my husband and our children, to a different part of the globe. And we may do just that, sometime in the future when our children are older and more cognizant of where we go for recreation. But for now, I've listed some of the reasons why I still very much enjoy our annual 'return holiday'.

Enjoying Favorite Sights More Than Once

This may be the biggest reason why it is beneficial to engage in return holidays. It isn't uncommon for travellers to discover places on this earth that are truly breath-taking, places they fall in love with, but then only have the opportunity to enjoy just once. Seljavellir Valley in Iceland is one such place for me, and I hope to return there, but realistically, I probably won't get that chance.

My daughter and I enjoying Lussier Hot Springs' relaxing waters.

When you return year after year (or every other year, or every five years - you get the idea), you do have the chance to revisit your favourite hangouts and enjoy them without the frenetic energy of a first and only stopover. You can linger happily, giving advice to first-timers with the sage wisdom of a true local, and because you are a return holidayer, no one will be able to tell the difference. Maybe. ;)

For example, our favourite spots to lounge around in within the Invermere region of British Columbia include Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs, Lussier Hot Springs (we like hot springs apparently), the Kinsmen Beach, and of course, Gerry's Gelato shop.

My son's first visit to Lussier Hot Springs in British Columbia.

Discovering the More Unusual Places

Trips and vacations are normally short stays, lasting anywhere between three days to three weeks if you are a typical full-time employee at a regular blue or white collar job. (To you 'modern nomads', this whole article, nay this whole blog, will definitely not apply to you. Have fun exploring the world and know that I am extremely jealous of your lifestyle, but I have excellent credit and a nice home that is almost paid off, and I do not intend to give up either.) If you are simply a run-of-the-mill traveler like me, escaping your every day life for a week or so, you don't have a ton of time to soak in one area in depth. You might hit the highlights, see a couple of 'recommended by the locals' stops, and maybe try to take a day or two to just relax and unwind. 

But when you find yourself returning to the same town or region over and over, you will have a chance to see places more off the beaten track. The highlights are still there for you to visit, but you don't need to see them each time you go. Instead, you can explore that strange museum located just off main street, or take that walking tour you didn't have time to sign up for last summer, or try a new hike through a new section of mountains that sounds interesting.

Touring the Kicking Horse Coffee Company's headquarters in Invermere, B.C.

You can also discover new restaurants that aren't found on the main drag, or shop in a small boutique that you might have overlooked last time you were in town. The possibilities are endless when you no longer have a mile-long checklist of things you want to see and do that a newbie might have.

There Really is Always Something New

Just when you think you've exhausted your options in the same old place, something new introduces itself. You might have to get creative, or leave your comfort zone, or even just talk to someone who knows the area well, but you can always find something original to tickle your fancy.

After eight years of traipsing through Invermere, Radium, and Fairmont, my family and I discovered we'd totally missed out on visiting the Panorama resort nearby, with a gondola, mountain views, and great hikes. So that's what we did this year, although the highest mountain view was inaccessible since we didn't want to take a squirmy one year old up a chairlift. But now we have something to look forward to in the future!

On the swaying bridge at B.C.'s Panorama Resort.

Seeing the Place you Visit Change and Grow

That ice cream shop is new! Where did our favourite pizza place go? Aw, the theatre shut down! But wait, there's a new pub right beside the beach! (The last one was my favourite change. Ha ha!)

The now-closed Toby Theatre - it was so quaint!

When you repeatedly vacation somewhere, you notice these changes. The town feels like a home away from home, and any change can cause a certain amount of excitement or nostalgia. It is fun to watch favourite businesses expand. (Gerry's Gelato is in Radium now, not just Invermere. Yum! And Columbia River Runners operates from Kinsmen Beach now. Say, that's handy.) It is also sad to see some go. We really loved the ancient (vintage?) Toby Theatre in town and were upset to see it close down. Although, watching "Dirty Dancing" in the park was pretty fun for a ladies' night out.

Watching "Dirty Dancing" in Invermere's Pothole Park.

Having a Chance to Actually Slow Down and Relax 

As I said before, a typical vacationer usually spends a week or so checking out the hot spots in an area, then taking a couple of local suggestions, but usually reserves a day or two for leisurely relaxation. That's a typical holiday, according to my husband.

I'm not really typical. I like to 'holiday' at breakneck speed. I show up with a list about three pages long filled with things I want to see and do, and an accompanying detailed itinerary, right down to approximate cab fare costs. (The itinerary and three page list aren't suggestions either. Gotta get things done, people!) I actually pity the ladies who are traveling to San Francisco with me next month, and I am sure they will probably hate me after the week is done. Hopefully this post prepares them!

Radium Hot Springs is one of our favourite haunts during our annual B.C. trip.

However... after my eighth time sojourning in Invermere, I have no list. I just show up. I have seen all the highlights, and most of the strange and unusual local sights as well. I come here now to revisit old favourites, maybe find a new spot to explore, and watch my children play with their cousins. I come to play cards with my in-laws, drink some wine, and read on the beach. I come to have a relaxing massage (the only massage I have all year). I am actually forced to slow down and just enjoy my family and my surroundings, because I have no need to obsess over travel itineraries. And for that, I am grateful.

Relaxing at Kinsmen Beach, playing in the sand with my babies.

Of course, this doesn't mean I'm not itching to continue checking off my bucket list items. I can't wait to get up and go, seeing the new and exciting. Eventually, as the older cousins get too big to want to spend their summer with relatives, and my children grow old enough to appreciate travel, we will plan alternate vacations. But I am thankful that we are return holidayers, and cherish all of the wonderful memories we make year after year.

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