Some reflections on traveling to new vs. old destinations: Many persons love to travel to new destinations and have new travel experiences, and they prefer not to return to prior destinations. Others are more risk averse and at the opposite end of the spectrum – if they find a location they like, they’ll return over and over. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle, but I lean toward the latter.
This dichotomy is exemplified by two couples I met on my last trip to the Berner Oberland in 2019. I met one couple on the 50-minute mountain train ride up to Schynige Platte. They lived in Canada and loved to travel. She had a popular blog that focused on family vacations to beaches and mountain locations around the world, and it had become a source of income. Her goal was to visit at least three new destinations each year. At age 38, she had already visited 45 locations in 32 countries across five continents. She could not understand why I continued to come back to the Berner Oberland with all of the varied possibilities available for good hiking vacations worldwide.
A few days later, I met the other couple while hiking along the Sefinen Valley trail. They lived in a suburb of London and had both just turned 70 (like me). After doing a lot of hiking in England, Scotland, Ireland and other locations in Europe, they first visited the Berner Oberland for a hiking vacation at age 35. For the past 35 years, they had returned each year to stay at their favorite hotel in Wengen and hike their favorite trails in the Jungfrau region. After they had retired, their only change was to take a longer vacation to Wengen each year.
Before making my first trip to the Berner Oberland, I had hiked in many of the U.S. National Parks: Acadia, Shenandoah, Smoky Mountains, Assateague, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, North Cascades, Olympic, Crater Lake, Yosemite – and I had returned to my favorites several times. For example, Glacier National Park and the hikes to Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake, and the Highline Trail.
Over the years, I had read extensively about the Berner Oberland and Jungfrau region, but it wasn’t until later in life (after the kids were launched) that I finally made it there. I was a little hesitant because I thought it was doubtful that the hiking and the area could meet my sky-high expectations. On the airplane returning from my first two-week trip, however, I realized that my lofty expectations had been significantly exceeded.
I think one dimension of the issue is quantity vs. quality. Some persons love to keep track of the number of countries they’ve visited, and the number of unique travel experiences and memories they have accumulated. I understand this perspective, but mine is somewhat different. If I find something unique and outstanding, I tend to be attracted to it and attempt to explore all of the nooks and crannies of the destination/experience.
I started this thread with the objective of trying to identify a new hiking destination that was as good as, or even better than, the Berner Oberland. At this point, I think I’ve identified two prime candidates: the Dolomites and Bettmeralp. Many thanks again to everyone who responded.