You can always go back. But should you?

vacation planning

Our return to Paris was all but a sure thing. We had our passports. We’d spent weeks brushing up our French in Duolingo. We were even arguing about the best apartments on HomeAway.

And then life happened.

It wasn’t one thing that sunk our summer plans in Paris. Instead, it was a lot of little things, including some paperwork issues, school schedules and, of course, the funds. In the end, it’s always about money, isn’t it?

What happens when you do? Should you ever resist the urge to return? With the busy summer travel season just ahead, these are questions worth asking.

vacation planning
Iden and Erysse at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Canada, in 2015.

I want to go back

For my 12-year-old daughter, an epic road trip across Canada a few years ago turned her into a Canadaphile. Every year she asks if we can go back to Canada. And every year I’ve said, “Maybe next year.”

Why does she love Canada? Maybe it was touring the icy beaches of Prince Edward Island in June or our Chinese restaurant tour in Vancouver later that summer, but I think she saw the best parts of Canada. She announced to me a few months ago that she is definitely attending college at McGill University in Montreal. I think that’s a great idea, but she might want to acquaint herself with Canadian winters before she decides to enroll. (Also, it’s far away from her family in Arizona, but perhaps that’s why she wants to be there.)

Maybe this is the year to return to Canada instead of France. But there are other considerations.

vacation planning
Aren Elliott on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018.

Should you return?

Our first trip to Hawaii in 2010 was magical. We stayed a little more than two weeks and got just enough of a taste for the island life that we returned again in 2012 and stayed even longer. “You know,” I said to my kids last year, “We should take a little more time — maybe do a month on the Big Island and a month on Oahu?”

They agreed. They loved Hawaii, too.

But we made a critical mistake. We forgot to consider what we would do for a month on an island. Turns out we’d already experienced the best parts of Hawaii and no longer felt like tourists. We’d already seen the volcano, the best beaches, the museums. With a month on each island, we would quickly run out of activities, and like everyone else who lived in Hawaii, we’d settle into a mundane routine. On the Big Island, that meant doing homework assignments in the dark because their tutors were in a different time zone. It also meant taking daily walks along an almost-abandoned highway, and waiting until the weekend to go to Costco in Kona, which had the most reasonably priced groceries.

I’m not complaining. But after more than two months in Hawaii, we were more than ready to return to the mainland. And don’t get me wrong — I really love Hawaii! — but some experiences are so good that you shouldn’t try to relive them. For us, Hawaii was one of those experiences.

vacation planning
Aren Elliott kayaking in the Monterey Bay in 2017. We came back, but maybe we shouldn’t have.

What happens when you go?

So what happens when you return to a place you probably shouldn’t have? If you’re me, you have to do some quick thinking, and maybe also some deep thinking. We had an opportunity to return to Monterey, Calif., last fall — a place I love as much as Hawaii. But again, we’d done all the must-do things in Monterey, including the aquarium, kayaking, and, of course, visiting the museums.

So I improvised. I took the kids on walks through town and we hiked up to Pacific Grove to see the Monarch butterflies. I told my children about when I was an intern at the Los Angeles Times and wrote a story about the Monarchs migrating. They were unimpressed, but mostly because there were no butterflies.

Being in Pacific Grove also reminded me of the many missed opportunities in my career. I really wanted to stay in California and work for the Los Angeles Times, but life had other plans for me. My kids were tired and listless and didn’t bother to ask me why I was unusually quiet on that day. Not even a visit to Trader Joe’s to pick up dinner could cheer us up.

I think that, in the end, even though returning somewhere might be practical or affordable, it might not be advisable. You’ll always compare it to the last time you were there. Was it the experience better or worse? Maybe you should find a new destination to visit and keep your original experience in a special place all its own.

Posted in Away is Home Tagged , ,

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 weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

%d bloggers like this: