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Whether it's taking a daily ritual from expected to extraordinary or discovering the wonderment and beauty of anew travel destination, J.R. McCabe elevates the everyday with timeless taste and comfortable confidence.
In November 1995 I took my first trip to Italy. While staying in Milan I bought postcards everywhere I went, but not the usual kind. Instead of the typical snapshots of landmarks and touristy spots, I picked up their cultural counterparts — postcards you find in museums and novelty shops that have vignettes, quotes, or pictures of artwork. I had no intention of sending them to anyone, they were more of a souvenir for myself — to remember the places I went and to carry a bit of Italy home with me. In the two decades since, I’ve continued the ritual.
We love travel because it is a feast for our senses — everything is new. The sights, sounds, tastes, scents, and textures all have us dancing in the magical world of the never before. A world that is unknown, exotic, mysterious to our personalities and yet comforting to our souls. A world we often never want to leave. Why? Because travel opens us up in ways we can never get to when we are stuck in routine. You can become a completely different person, most often for the better, in just a matter of days. The confines of everyday life, the routines, the scenarios, the patterns — but mostly the boundaries of our personalities seem to fade away. One’s personality only has so much power in unfamiliar territory, it’s as if all that who and what we are supposed to be is disoriented by geography. When you really relax into it you’ll find that the person who emerges while traveling is a secret to who you really are.
I invite you to receive the ritual of bringing your trip home with you as a way to discover more about yourself and infuse your everyday life with a more magical existence.
Postcards as Bookmarks
As you wander through shops, bookstores, museums, and general stores — keep an eye out for novelty postcards that you connect with. Once home you can use them as bookmarks or frame them as sweet reminders of messages or images you want to imbue into your daily life.
Local Gourmet Finds
After we’ve checked out of the hotel, the last thing we always do before hitting the road is make a stop at the local general store, market, or grocery store. When we are flying we pick up delights we see along the way at local gourmet food shops. When you bring home culinary treats from where you’ve been — no matter whether it’s chocolates, biscotti, chips, beverages, hummus, sandwiches or homemade meals — you will discover things you never knew you liked before and smile every time you eat them. It also saves that dreaded there’s no food in the fridge dilemma once you arrive home. On the way back from the Berkshires we stopped at Guido’s in Pittsfield and picked up homemade eggplant parmigiana — it was delicious. Between that and the other provisions we gathered we were all set for a few days. No one wants to go grocery shopping after you’ve been on a fabulous trip — so keep the spirit going with a taste of your vacation.
Let Music Transport You
On every trip local music will inevitably tickle your ears. Somewhere along your travels there will be regional or cultural sounds echoing through the café, bar, restaurant, or hotel. When I hear music that makes my heart dance I immediately ask about it, find out what it is, and buy it on iTunes. Sometimes — when I know the music will likely be similar to home — I build my own playlist before the trip. On a trip to Vermont I made a James Taylor mix. On a trip to the Berkshires I compiled my Downton Abbey favorites. Either way when I’m back and I hear the music it transports me to the wonderment and essence of our travels.
Time Traveling with a Journal
I have a special journal that I use only for traveling. When that gets filled I start a new and different one. Some are leather bound and lined, others are soft covered with blank sheets. Often I find new ones while traveling that evoke the spirit of the place and carry them home to be stored in a special spot until their time arrives to join me in cocreating a travel story. Whether you purchase one while on a trip and start using it that day or arrive with a weathered and familiar journal that has already traveled the world, I encourage you to document your trips through words not just images. Images can always bring you back to the place, but words bring you back to the moment — how it smelled, how it tasted, what it felt like and who you were while you were there.
Daily Travel Days
If you’re inquisitive and adventuresome travelers like we are, you welcome local traditions and customs and embrace the daily practices of wherever you are instead of staying set in your at-home routine. Whenever there is a particular custom I adore I bring it home and incorporate it into my daily life. When we were in Miami I took tennis lessons first thing to avoid the heat of the late morning hours. By the time we sat for breakfast I felt amazing from all the endorphins kicking around in my body. Before that I was never a roll out of bed and workout kinda gal. When we came home I started an exercise practice before breakfast and have loved it ever since. When we were in the Berkshires, I would drink my tea from fine china cozied up by the fire each morning. Well we don’t have a fireplace in our apartment, but when we came home I continued the practice of putting my tea in a cup and saucer rather than just a mug. All these little customs from traveling will make you feel like everyday life is such a treat!