Should you repeat your vacation? Let’s settle this argument once and for all

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By Christopher Elliott

Want to start an argument? Just ask a random family member where to take your next vacation. Specifically, should you play it safe by returning to the same place — or try something new? 

But it’s an argument worth having now. Here’s why: The top destinations for the summer of 2024 are ridiculously familiar. Orlando, London and Cancun, according to the latest Allianz Partners survey. All those far-flung revenge travel destinations from after the pandemic are history. People want something safe and familiar.

But is that a good thing? 

Why everyone is arguing about vacation repetition

Experts say there’s a reason that this is such a heated debate. 

“Typically, when people return to the same spot over and over again, they want predictability,” says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. “They know exactly what they are getting and how it works for them. This differs from those who want the unexpected by going to a new place each time they vacation.”

Let me acknowledge my bias upfront: I’m part of the second group. I don’t have a permanent residence and, as a travel writer, I get restless after being in one place for more than a week. So I had to ask an expert to explain our fondness for sameness. (Related: Can this trip be saved? “This was the worst vacation any of us have ever taken”.)

“When a traveler finds a place that they like, there’s a risk to going anywhere else,” says Jeff Galak, who teaches marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.”We’ve all experienced bad vacations, so when we find one that just works, it’s hard to leave it behind.”

I’m going to hand the mic to both sides of this argument in a minute. But first, let me tell you who is right: Yes, you can go back to the same place — but not in the way you think. 

Here’s why repeat vacations are great

Travelers have their reasons for coming back to the same place again and again. Shirleigh Brannon, a retired librarian from Marin County in Northern California, travels to Anaheim, Calif., twice a year to visit Disneyland.

Her love of Disney vacations goes back three decades, when she brought her son to the Magic Kingdom for the first time. Experiencing the Jungle Cruise or Alice in Wonderland through the eyes of a four-year-old was special. 

“Lots of fond memories,” she says.

Even though she knows every inch of the park by now, it’s those special memories that keep her coming back again and again. (Related: How to take a vacation in your hometown.)

Another reason to repeat is because your friends and family will be there. Janet Ruth Heller returns to Elkhart Lake, Wis., every summer with her extended family.

“We have good memories,” says Heller, a retired college professor. “Elkhart Lake has many activities for families, and it is conveniently located for our relatives.”

There’s also a comfort level. Bernard Nash, a medical school professor from New York, likes to explore the world. But he also has a timeshare in Aruba that he goes back to every year. He loves hanging out by the pool, taking long walks along the white-sand beaches, and dining in his favorite restaurants. And from time to time, he runs into people he knows, who are also there on vacation. (Related: Go here on vacation — if you dare.)

 “It’s the perfect place to go and just chill out,” he says.

So comfort, friends and family and special memories — those are all great reasons to repeat your vacation. 

But I have to warn you: You’re missing out.

Why you should get out there and experience something new

Other travelers would never repeat a trip. Marcy Schackne is one of them. 

“When it comes to travel,” she says, “It’s one and done.”

Schackne, a marketing executive for a healthcare company in South Florida, has been to all seven continents and is part of the exclusive century club, having visited more than 120 countries. 

“There’s too much world to see to go back and repeat a Groundhog Day experience,” says Schackne, who is off to Greenland in July.

“Going to the same place every year would be boring,” says Kathleen Panek, who owns a bed and breakfast in Shinnston, W. Va. “There are so many things to see and do.”

Panek’s parents taught her how to read a road map as soon as she could recognize numbers. And she’s been traveling ever since — mostly road trips in the U.S. and occasional adventures in Europe. Her only regret is that she hasn’t traveled more. (Here’s our guide to spring break.)

There’s one more reason to get out there and travel: it changes your perspective. And in a highly polarizing election year, getting outside your comfort zone can make a real difference. Research suggests that travel can alter your point of view, although there’s no evidence that it will make you more liberal or conservative — just that it will change how you see the world.

So to sum up, trying a new destination broadens your horizons and makes your life more exciting–and maybe even more interesting. 

But saying you should take each vacation in a new place would be wrong.

How to find a new place to visit this summer

Here are a few ways to find a new destination to try this summer.

  • Ask a friend. A word-of-mouth recommendation is always the best way to find a new place to visit because it comes from someone who knows you. Ask a friend or family member for a new place to visit. The answer might surprise you.
  • Try the random trips button. Almost every online travel site has a function that lets you choose a random place to visit. For example, Google Flights has a “suggested trips” function that will recommend inexpensive places to visit.
  • Consult an expert. A qualified travel advisor can help you find a new place to visit. If you don’t have a travel agent, you can find one through the American Society of Travel Advisors.

Where should you go this summer?

So should you go to the same place this summer or try something new?

Laurel Barton has the correct answer. She lives in Forest Grove, Ore., but loves the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. Barton and her husband spend at least a week there every year. 

“We know how to get around, where to go, what to do, options for inclement weather, where to shop,” she says. “No maps required.”

But Barton also loves to explore. This summer, she’s headed to Iceland and Rome to make new memories.

Kristiana Capati-Choquet, a luxury travel advisor at Embark Beyond, sees that duality in her clients, too.

“Seeing the same people in the same destinations contributes to the basic human need of wanting to belong,” she says. “On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who can’t stand to repeat vacations and have a true adventurer side.”

It’s OK to visit a favorite place this summer. I have many. I love Paris in July and Seattle in August. Utah is my go-to spot in September — maybe one of Mighty Five national parks. 

But try something new, for goodness’ sake. You have no idea what you’re missing. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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