Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.
Okay, so it’s true. All true!
We leave for our family trip to France in just over a month! After spending the entire year looking ahead, the time has now come to get serious.
This means list making, packing, planning, renting obscene numbers of subtitled french films, and generally totally freaking out. We have precisely 21 sleeps to prepare for, and our stay will begin and end in Paris, which is so far my favorite place in the entire world.
My first visit was just two years ago, a quick 4 days there alone with my husband on a whirlwind first jaunt across the pond for me (my hubby visits Europe on business often and lived 3 years in France in his early 20′s).
I knew it would change my life, but I didn’t yet know just how much.
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
~ Henry Miller
After a week in Paris, we’ll hit Beaune (in Burgundy wine country where the husband lived in the late 80′s) for a few days, and then cap off the holiday with a week in Provence (pinch me).
We are taking our two daughters, and at 14 and 8, they are not only excited, but also adding to the general feeling around here about, let’s say it again, generally totally freaking out. It’s a once in a lifetime trip for us as a family.
So how do we plan for a ‘less is more’ trip of this scale?
With all the thrill & excitement that comes from planning a huge trip like this, preparing for the sensory overload is key, and being realistic about how to handle it all is also just as key.
Here are a few things we’ll be doing to try to stay, and enjoy, each and every quality moment. I’d love to hear how you’d add to my list!
1. Pack light
Packing is a post in itself, and I may share more as we progress.
For now, we’ll begin the list making. As a family with at least one pro traveler (the husband), our philosophy on packing for air travel is simple. Light. Carry on if you can. For a trip of this length, we’ll be checking bags, but the goal is to bring only what we really need.
I’ll pack the usual leggings, a couple sweaters, a light rain jacket, one pair of jeans. A light summer dress or two, a bathing suit. Tank tops, shorts, lots of easy thin layers. Runners.
Plus, I need to leave room for (just a few) things I might acquire, right?
2. Eat in.
We’ve got apartments rented for both Paris and Provence, each for a week. This means market shopping!
This could be the thing I am most looking forward to, preparing salads and meals from simple market freshness, instead of relying on restaurants for all of our meals.
Dinner is always our highlight while on the road, and we plan to pick up breakfast and lunch snacks here and there as we crave them (honestly I could picnic on baguette and fresh fruit in the Luxembourg gardens everyday if I had my choice).
Simple, beautiful things excite me, and I cannot wait to live like a local in one of the most beautiful food countries in the world.
I just hope the purveyors at the market don’t mind my charming English.
3. Take cash.
It’s no secret that I adore nice things, I am sure there are more than a few of you who are with me on that!
On my last trip to Paris, I didn’t shop all that much. Part of it was being overwhelmed. Another part of it was being with my husband (mine has about a 5 minute life span inside a women’s boutique). Another part of it was I waited until Sunday (for anyone who has been you know what I am talking about).
I left with a second-hand top and a trove of gorgeous memories. I’ve got zero complaints.
But this time, I am planning to treat myself to a few special things while I am there (insert justification here). To avoid over spending, I’ve been saving. I’m taking my spending money in cash. No secret credit cards. No regrets. Just fun.
4. The ‘one per day’ rule.
While not a big rule person, it is important when planning to not overwhelm the travelers. When planning, we’ve got a rule that we will focus each day on one major sight see, particularly in Paris. There is nothing worse than over planning and running out of time to see and do all the things you wanted ‘to check off’.
Want to feel like a failure? Over plan. I’m not competing with the clock am I?
After all, I don’t recall seeing the French rushing around trying to catch everything all at once. On my last trip, I noticed quite a few local folk with plenty of time to chill on a terrace, enjoy the company of friends, and enjoy a moment (or two) to relax.
So if we miss a line up at a museum and instead opt for a stroll through the Marais with an ice cream in hand, you won’t hear me complaining. I don’t think the kids will mind too much either
5. Be here now.
Perhaps the single most important rule of all.
Planning such a big trip means spending a lot of money, and it is tempting to try to cram in too much. After all, you’ve got to get your money’s worth right?
As with anything in life, I try to see the beauty of the moment that is in front of me, and I want to teach my children to do the same. I know that the rooftop view from our apartment in Provence is likely to be one of the most beautiful things I could ever enjoy. I know there is a clean river to swim in nearby. I know there are markets and a whole town to explore.
This is where I’ll be instead of jumping in a hot car to drive to some other (equally spectacular) place. I don’t want to miss out on the moments and what is right in front of me, because I am seeking the ‘next big thing’.
So no matter where we are, that is where we will be.
Whether we are on the road to our next destination, or in the kitchen preparing a feast from our trip to the markets that day, that is where I will be.
With all my heart, my soul, and my mind.
Be Here Now.
~ Ram Dass, Be Here Now
With that, I’ve officially begun the countdown. It’s the start of summer, and the beginning of a truly special one.
I am overjoyed to share this experience with my family, and as I said earlier, a very special treat for all of us, as kids grow up. It’s not for forever these years, and they are both the perfect age.
I’d love to hear your tips on travel from a less is more perspective, and your special place in this world.
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
Mine is here, right now. But when I’m there, that’s where it will be. The memories of those moments will be with me and my loved ones forever. Wherever we may go in this life.
And that my friends, is the most special gift I can imagine. Right now. At this moment.
Yours in Less,