What I’d Do Differently If I Revisited Places I’ve Traveled When I Was Younger

Great ideas emerge from useless fragments of thoughts

Michael Bassey Johnson

Earlier this week I had a personal training client who asked about my favorite places to travel. Then, we got to talking about which places we want to revisit in the future or now that we’ve already been before. I had a different post planned today that was 4th of July-focused, but when inspiration to write comes, you just don’t ignore it.

So what would I do differently? A lot. These are just my musings, but I would love to hear your thoughts and more on what you’d choose to do in the comments below!

Also, I’m talking way back. At least a decade. I’m going all the way back to high school and before as well as my college days.

There’s No Wrong Answer

How you choose to travel is so personal. Unless you’re being rude, offensive, or violent there’s really no wrong way to travel. I chose what I thought was best for me at the time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. When I first traveled to Scotland and England when I was little I didn’t get much say in really anything. It wasn’t until I went on a field trip to Jamestown for school that I had a little more freedom. That freedom was called a disposable camera. Did I take pictures of what everyone wanted me to? No. I captured every animal butt I could find. Every. Single. One.

Do you love animal butts like my elementary school self did? Go take all the pictures. Would I do that today? No. Well, maybe one as a joke.

I’d Experience More of the Local Life/Culture

I’ve loved traveling and there really isn’t one place I’ve been to that I’ve hated. Some places I wouldn’t visit again, but I’ve learned something from each of them. Back in high school I went on a class trip to Italy. We toured all of the major tourist attractions and everything was very ‘oh my goodness we’re Americans in Italy. Let’s do everything the guide book says.’ I adored that trip and it still brings good memories.

BUT, I would do it completely differently now. Oh man do I love going to see the main tourist attractions. As I’ve gotten older, they aren’t the only thing I want to see. I used to think that these monuments, museums, and objects truly represented an entire culture, but now I know that’s just not the case. Any time I can, I try to live/travel like a local. I want to experience what it’s really like to live in a place outside of the tourist attractions. Without moving to another city/country I’ll never genuinely know what I’d feel like living there in that culture, but it’s always at the forefront of my mind when I travel to dig deeper.

Take Better Pictures

As I’m now on my 3rd year of writing this travel blog, I’m realizing just how few pictures I have that I see as quality now. I used to snap a quick shot to prove I’d been there without thinking about composition or storytelling… or even lighting and if I had my focus on what I wanted to remember.

I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I did upgrade my camera, took a few classes, experimented with finding my aesthetic and found ways to tell the story I wanted with my pictures. My pictures will never be perfect, but having fun taking more meaningful pictures makes traveling even more fun for me.

Stop Buying Sh*t

I used to think I needed a trinket from every place I went. Now my budget and wiser adult brain says no. I do not need that random thing that’s going to sit on my shelf and not add value to my life. I’m much pickier about buying something now. One of the only things I buy from each place I visit is a post card. My guest room has a wall I’m slowly filling with postcards that has a hand written memory on the back. This adds color, nostalgia, and reminds of great times in these places better than a trinket will. At least for me.

Learn More Languages

Never have I ever gone to a country and not learned a few phrases. It’s always something I wanted to do out os respect and because I like languages. They’re super neat and fun to learn. Continuing that practice is never going to stop for me, but I have taken it a step further. Whenever we choose to go to a foreign country I immediately start to learn the language. As much of it as possible before I go.

In high school and college I could only say a few basic phrases. Today, I’m still learning spanish from my trip to Peru several years ago. I got to Spanish level 3 in my app and have just kept going. I started about 8 months before my trip and it made the process so much smoother.

My skills will be put to the test when we book our trip to Tokyo probably next year. You can bet all your money that I’ll be learning Japanese MONTHS in advance.

Final Thoughts

It’s so fun and sometimes cringe-worthy to look back and see how I traveled and what used to be important to me. I’m so proud I’ve grown to the point where I’m less focused on proving to other people I’ve been to a place and visiting just the most famous places and more focused on pursuing what really interests me and pushes me out of my comfort zone.

I’m so fortunate to be able to travel the world, albeit on a very tight budget, but it’s shaped who I am and I can honestly say it’s my favorite hobby. Now, if anyone wants to pay me travel around the world I am all ears. Hello dream job.

For real though, this was a meaningful post for me to write. I really believe we experience things differently as we age because we were missing pieces of ourselves that we’ve gained as we age through experience. I might not get back to all of places I want to revisit, but I can promise that I’ll keep growing and pushing myself to see more and be a better person for the world.

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