Holidays are like relationships. Some offer the intense, intoxicating thrill of the new, the extraordinary, the yet-to-be-discovered. Even after it’s over, this sort of heady fling can fill your heart and sustain you with weeks’ worth of smiles and rose-tinted daydreams — and then another possibility presents itself and off you go again. Life’s too short and the world’s too big to press repeat, right?

Then there are the trips to destinations that have become old friends, the ones you can’t imagine not having in your life, who’ve been a delight to get to know and now welcome you back with a warm hug. There’s no need for small talk — you can just pick up where you left off whether it’s been days or years. Rather than excitement and guesswork you have the comfort and intimacy of knowledge.

Of course you don’t necessarily have to choose between notches on the bedpost and a familiar face on the pillow next to you. I love a wild adventure as much as the next serial dater — I’ve visited six continents and ticked off destinations from Armenia to Zanzibar — but having just returned from my umpteenth trip to Malaga, I am full of the joys of going steady.

The view over the port, bullring and Malagueta beach

The view over the port, bullring and Malagueta beach


The things I loved about Malaga when we first met still give me butterflies now: sunshine when the UK’s shivering; a twisty-turny old town of tapas bars and ancient churches; world-class art galleries; plentiful short flights; tropical greenery, beaches and straight-off-the-boat fish grilling by the sea. New discoveries keep things fresh — this time it was Chiringuito Escribano and the slightly peculiar Museo Automovilistico y la Moda with its cars and couture — but much of the pleasure of a visit comes from already having my bearings, arriving with a feel for the place and cherished memories to draw on. It makes for instant relaxation in a way that somewhere new never can.

“New destinations provide a sense of excitement because there’s uncertainty,” says Dr Charlotte Russell, founder of “Revisiting old favourites ensures a sense of connection — the place can become somewhere meaningful, and having this meaning is an important building block for wellbeing.”

After the pandemic, as we emerged blinking back into the realm of holidays, many of us sought out the reassurance of the familiar. We wanted to check in with those stalwart friends again, remind ourselves of what we’d been missing. Now we’re looking for novel stimuli — Skyscanner’s research suggests 83 per cent of Brits want to discover somewhere new in 2024 and the travel association Abta identified “holiday neophiles” as a key trend for this year.

But us creatures of holiday habit won’t be extinct any time soon. Partly because that revisiting can work at different scales. It could just be the same country — Abta also anticipates that Brits’ eight top destinations this year will be the same as last year, with Spain the consistent favourite. It might be the same region or city (I admit my relationship with Malaga is not monogamous and I am also going steady with Lisbon, Paris, Oxford and Copenhagen), the same resort or villa.

Liz Edwards and family in Malaga

Liz Edwards and family in Malaga

Patrick Millar of the city-break specialist Kirker Holidays says a high proportion of clients are returning to destinations they already know. “We introduce new cities every year, but the classic destinations such as Paris or Venice remain our most popular,” he says. People may not be going to see the Eiffel Tower each time, he says — it might be to see a new exhibition, return to a favourite restaurant or, like one of his colleagues whose name may or may not be Cleopatra, to buy donkey-milk shampoo.

One loyal customer has booked 39 Kirker trips in the past 15 years, 23 of them to Rome — the same hotel, same room, often the same galleries. “She just loves the atmosphere of the city in May and October,” says Millar.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” wrote the 4th-century philosopher St Augustine. But there’s much to gain when some of those pages become well-thumbed.

Which destinations do you return to? Or should we always go somewhere new? Let us know in the comments below

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