Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 14 November 2019

A road less travelled or the well-beaten track? How to find a happy medium when you travel

That risk of the unknown versus the comfort of the familiar can result in a destination dilemma

New Zealand is a destination with options that suit every kind of traveller. Tourism New Zealand
New Zealand is a destination with options that suit every kind of traveller. Tourism New Zealand

The holiday-related squabbles between my fiance and I often begin long before we’ve arrived at the airport. Indeed, they begin weeks ahead of even booking those crucial flights.

The crux of our disagreements, you see, always comes down to one fine point: the destination itself.

As a Welsh woman and a New Zealander who met in Australia, and now live in the (more or less) equidistant Dubai, it would be easy to assume we’re a well-travelled couple. However, given that most of our trips revolve around our home countries, and planning our own wedding in my native UK, we get very little time left in a year for us to just blissfully explore.

What annual leave we do have, we treat like a fancy box of chocolates, to be nurtured and savoured, not wasted all in one sitting.

However, we both sit firmly in two different holiday camps; whereas I would prefer to expand my horizons and travel to a new location each time, my sentimental Kiwi would rather return to places that hold great value to us. Whether it’s the Thai town we used to meet at when we were forced into a long-distant relationship, just a 12-hour flight away for us both, or Paris, where we had a snowy weekend as a pair of 23-year-olds, his suggestions often start with “Let’s just go back to...”

While his thinking stems from a touching place, I, albeit perhaps an emotional philistine, am keenly aware that we’ll see so little of the world with that kind of thinking. We have a to-see itinerary as big as our bank balance is small, a bucket list so deep we are unlikely to reach the brim in our lifetime.

So why revisit somewhere you’ve already seen, when you could be experiencing something new? These two sides of our personalities might complement our ­relationship, but turn a 15-minute search on Skyscanner into a 15-day stalemate.

Yet, am I valuing quantity over quality? This is a point often raised by my partner, who just craves a little exploring, a wealth of hearty dinners, some sun and plenty of rest from his holidays. And he’s got a point; after all, haven’t we all been left disappointed by a destination that looked so picturesque on Google, only to be dropped off on a dingy street by an overpriced taxi?

That risk of the unknown versus the comfort of the familiar is a common theme that we’re still learning to compromise on, 10 years after first meeting.

We’ve learnt to treat holiday-planning like a balance sheet, weighing up cost, time to travel, length of leave and ease of getting around like a mathematic equation. We’ve also learnt to play tourist in our home countries, exploring new realms of our motherlands with each other; I admiring New Zealand’s incomparable landscapes as he soaks up Wales’s history. This travelling tick-box system of settling on destinations has served us well, and helped us (truthfully, me) learn to be more accommodating, a skill that can only enrich our relationship as we prepare to embark on married life.

But don’t even get me started on where we’ll honeymoon.

Updated: April 13, 2019 10:15 AM

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