a beach with umbrellas and palm trees

If you ever want to kill some time, and jump down a few rabbit holes – think back on how your travel mindset has changed over the years. If you do, you’ll undoubtedly draw fascinating conclusions, but also gain great insight into where to go next.

As younger travelers – or big kids pretending to be adults – I believe we’re first drawn into travel to the big and the bold “must sees” that we’re told are “musts”. Think: Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, Sydney Opera House, The Hollywood Sign, and so forth.

These things may always capture our retinas, but the more we travel, the more we naturally seek inspiring and endearing experiences.There’s only so many times you need to set foot in those sort of environments, yet so many millions of reasons to come back to the cities, destinations or places that surround them.

Victoria Peak skyline at nightIt’s why I have one simple rule for travel, and it’s to try and always see a destination through the lens of a local with a similar mindset to my own. Where would I fit in here? Doing so gives me endless new inspiration, no matter how many times I’ve been.

Someone recently asked me “where does the man who’s been everywhere go?”, and it gave me a moment of real pause.

Why do I bother travelling anymore, and what’s still actually worth the trip? To be sure, I haven’t been “everywhere”, but I’ve ticked off most regions of the world excluding a pole or two, and it’s a great question.

I find myself booking travel to places that make me feel alive, new, or invigorated. Covid-19 has made me double down on this, believing more than ever that travel is the best way to feel new again. A new cuisine alone can be invigorating, particularly after the world has exhausted their culinary skills over months of lockdown.

It’s more about a feeling within a destination or culture than one dot on Google Maps, or specific attraction. It’s places that feels like they reinvent food trends each and every month, or are so fantastically different to your own daily life, you’re transported in more ways than one.

That, or they’re just so incredibly beautiful and unique, you can’t look away.

I love places where just a year away can make you feel like you’re starting all over again. Often, these aren’t the most remote, they’re just fun cities. It’s why I end up back in Los Angeles, where new hoods pop up seemingly overnight as the new meccas of cool and that blends with the inimitable sunsets along the California Coast.

a man standing on a rock with mountains in the backgroundFor many of the same reasons, it’s why Queenstown, New Zealand – one of the world’s great pains in the a$$ to get to is always also worth it. From the top of the Queenstown Hill hike, you can’t help but feel inspired in the greatest magnitude. I’m always happy to return just for the views, but Fergburger is a whole other brilliant reason too.

Then there’s Japan, a place which makes me reflect on virtually everything I do every day, from the speed at which I eat, to the respect I treat every person I encounter, no matter how informal or brief the moment. If we had to keep going, South Africa, India, they’re all somewhere in my mind of places that have stuck with me long after my passport was stamped. Anywhere that can do that is worth a return.

The point is: there is no wrong answer. Travel to me is about what it conjures inside of you, whether it’s butterflies, beauty or the bizarre. When you feel like you’ve been “everywhere”, think about the places that make you so happy you couldn’t be anywhere else. If they give you the reflections, smiles or thoughts that last the long ride home and then some, you’ll be back.

And that’s honestly part of the fun. Once you’ve been everywhere, there’s a comfort to anywhere. I, like most of you, must work every day, and when you’re on a quest for discovery in a new destination, it’s rarely relaxing. Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. Once you’ve been, loved it and gotten a sense of it – coming back is a deeper and more relaxed appreciation.

Go everywhere as soon as you can, so that you can then go on your own highlight tour, taking a more relaxed look at the places that made your mind, eye balls or heart happy. Like a fine wine, travel only gets better with time. But also like a fine wine, you don’t want to wait too late to get around to it…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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