How do you travel?
I just got back from Greece. It was a press-related trip to interview the incredibly bubbly and adorable Michael Kors* and everything was amazing, from the hotel to the food to the attention to detail to…everything. Even the trips themselves, I mean literally going from one place to another, went super well.
I arrived at my hotel in a helicopter. Seriously.
With my hair blowing in the wind and a little handbag, like Jackie O.
And honestly, I love it. The whole jet set thing is a trip in itself. This wasn’t my first time, and even though this time was particular because I was invited, I do sometimes go off to fabulous places, just because I want to discover a hotel or an experience. Like that amazing hotel in the south of Morocco, remember? Or this one in Greece. Or that one in Bali! Gorgeous!
I really like having a luxury experience, especially when it’s not ostentatious or obsequious – but when things just operate like there’s some kind of magic going on – like there’s a soft veil over everything. An amazing hotel, a trip in first-class, a massage in a fabulous spa on the other side of the world, it’s like being in a sugar-coated dream all of a sudden.
People smile at you, your every wish is granted, the laundry you leave on the floor comes back clean and ironed, your bed is magically turned down when you come to bed, everything smells good, everything comes to you, everything is in its place, calm, and voluptuous.
You feel beautiful – royal almost, well-fed with balanced, healthy ingredients, toned from the fitness centers that actually make you want to exercise, and your features look relaxed from all the beauty treatments and the attention.
Like nothing could ever bother you again. It’s easy to forget the world around you.
You almost don’t want to leave your little paradise, actually. Want to go check out the area? Mmm, hang on, I think I have a massage scheduled…
That’s probably why my next vacation is going to be in a camper van. Chris and I are planning to take our dog Lulu camping in Big Sur, super down-to-earth style. Can’t wait!!!!
It’s basically the opposite of the fabulous hotel experience. Suddenly, everything is complicated. Finding a place to spend the night is complicated. Making coffee is complicated. Driving through unfamiliar places is complicated. You leave your t-shirt on the ground…and find it in the mud (if you’re lucky – otherwise a wild animal might take it and make you think your camp is being attacked by a ghost in the middle of the night).
Even going to the bathroom is complicated.
And if you feel beautiful, it’s only because the rear view mirror is the only place where you can look at yourself. Typically, even if you’re amazing at glamping (glamour + camping, a concept I really like, but have a hard time putting into practice), your hair will be so-so (on good days), you’ll forget to wear makeup because you’re communing with nature, and your clothes (just like in Costa Rica with its dusty roads) take on a Terracotta color that looks nothing like Guerlain.
As for eating healthy, haha! It can be done, but you have to get up early (which happens naturally, actually – it’s not like you have black-out curtains).
Even so, it’s got its own kind of magic, and to me, it’s just as amazing as a luxury vacation. Even more so, sometimes.
It’s the surprise of waking up early in the morning, just the two of you, in front of an unspoiled panorama. It’s the joy of grilling a fish you caught half an hour earlier with whatever you have on hand, it’s connecting with nature like we rarely do anymore. It’s also that kind of silly thing – feeling like you’re an adventurer.
I never thought I would have liked camping, because in my family, it’s really, really not part of our culture. It’s almost the opposite, like “Us, go camping? NEVER!” so I always thought it must be awful to go camping in the summer. Just the thought of it made my hair stand on end. I’d see tourists go by with their backpacks and I’d send them compassionate looks like “Oh, the poor things!”
Until the day I went backpacking in the Corsican mountains, discovered the most beautiful landscapes I’d ever seen, and loved the ambiance of the spots where all the hikers gather to share their stories and their food. Until the day I decided to hitchhike all throughout Europe with a big backpack and had incredible adventures. Until the day my boyfriend at the time who had great memories of camping with his family, convinced me to buy a tent and travel through Portugal, which even today is one of my most memorable trips.
All of these extremes taught me how to travel, and to not compare one experience to another, but to layer them. For example, I’ve planned road trips that included a two-day stop in an 18-star hotel – you arrive with your backpacks all discolored, and come out two hours later feeling fresh and ready to go have a glass of champagne by the pool. I’ve also done the opposite – like deciding to go spend the night on the beach in the middle of a stay in a palace.
Traveling is just like style – it’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of curiosity, enthusiasm, desire, mixing it up, personal taste, and where you are in life (you’re more likely to backpack if you’re a student and you’re broke, that’s for sure). The only sad thing is when you put yourself in a category and never wander out of it. Or think of people who don’t travel like you do as “others” and not understand that you can want different things at different times and it doesn’t make you a less interesting traveler.
As with style, traveling shouldn’t mean putting a label on yourself, but seeing the beauty and luxury in every little thing, every detail, every moment.
Sometimes, quite simply, it might be collapsing on the beach for two weeks – another concept I used to get worked up about when I was young and adventurous, but understand now that I have a crazy, sleep deprived New York life.
It reminds me of something someone once told me when I was selling croissants** when I was a teenager in Corsica. From my tiny boat, I was selling croissants to people living in gorgeous, enormous, incredible yachts, with helicopters parked on their roofs and stunning, scantily clad women, with teams of people waiting on them…and also to people with tiny boats so banged up I thought they might sink before their vacation was over, but full of happy families ordering 10,000 croissants before calculating the cost, only to end up telling me no, it was too expensive, but I could come have a glass of wine with them on board, if I wanted…
I told myself that the feeling of happiness, summer, vacation, was the same for everybody. The sun, the sea (or even the park, if you have to stay in the city) – the summer spirit is there, within reach, for everyone. The sun is there for everyone, burning our skin and making us feel good — it’s for all of us, equally.
It made me really happy to reconcile the world like that.
So what about you? Where do you like to go on vacation?
* MK is the type of guy who dances on the table after dinner and imitates models walking down the catwalk, and…anyway, we already knew he had impeccable taste and was hilarious, but this time it was totally impossible not to fall under his charm. (No, but really, he is the nicest AND funniest! I can’t wait for you to hear his podcast!)
** My first job, in Corsica – selling croissants on the pier to people docking their boats in my village. I had a little boat, and my best friend Anne and I would go out taking orders in the evening and then we’d deliver the warm croissants and pains au chocolat the next morning. Corsican Seamless, basically!
Translated by Andrea Perdue