By Michela O'Connor Abrams
When we change our environment for any reason, we leave behind aspects of our lives but we never leave ourselves in that process. Returning from a three week sojourn—no longer called my vacation because it seems like an injustice—I enjoyed every day and almost every moment of every day. I went with a mind to absorb every experience as if my daily existence was permeable. It’s not a nuance. It’s a completely different way to travel. Change the mindset and you change your entire experience. It’s not a getaway or an escape, it’s an opportunity to gently but intentionally take in the place using all your senses.
I disconnected from everything except the camera on my iPhone and WhatsApp in order to send fun photos to family and friends. Starting in Paris where every step offers a glimpse of a time centuries ago, I walked with all my senses wide open to this beautiful place and its people. No one building won my heart above all others. In its current form even Notre Dame is gorgeous, but not leagues above the Musee D’Orsay or the Louvre or the Hotel de Ville (the government seat). They are all so different and yet together they tell a story of a country and its people to be adored and admired.
Provence was the next two weeks and every village seemed more dramatic and magnificent than the last. How could this get any better? Walk for miles, eat the finest and yet the simplest cuisine, stay where families lived in the 15th century, listen to the gentile language and learn as much as possible. I took all of me to France in the most present way possible. I returned with an indelible layer that will last a lifetime in my mind, in my heart and in the stories I will continue to tell.
We know that a growing number of people, (43% of design-centric consumers travel for passion, purpose and wellness – Design Insights Forum 2018)—regardless of generation—travel for culture, passion, education, avocation, curiosity, and of course pleasure. The mindset and focus of going to something wonderful instead of leaving behind our daily lives, gives us the chance to take in every aspect of our journey, leaving us with a new context and a new lens through which to see ourselves.