Using a traveler’s perspective to look at your daily life can help you boldly uncover and make some needed changes. Changes in behaviors, attitudes and in more down-to-earth areas like your home – like your kitchen. Here are examples of cooking area reorganizations and how they were prompted by a traveler’s perspective.
We grow bolder when discomfort blast us out of our rut and makes us more open. And our minds are never less comfortable and more open than when our daily routine is disrupted by travel. Time to use this unique traveler’s perspective to bring back ideas to re-energize and reinvent regular routine – this time in our kitchens!
How does the traveler’s perspective help?
When you are on the road and out of your familiar setting, even mundane tasks can be challenging. Like figuring out how to get the shower water hot. Or how to light the stove. Or how to make coffee in that weird contraption.
At home we do a lot of things without even thinking. But that’s not possible in unfamiliar places. And that can be a good thing.
It makes us practice growing bolder
You can’t B THERE (B-Boldness Baby Step) if you always do something automatically. And the OPENESS (O-Boldness Baby Step) caused by the disruption of travel can stay with you and transform your regular life. Like it has done with mine
My change started small – over coffee
Years ago, I used a Keurig coffee maker for the first time while staying with a friend in Austin. What a revelation! I drink coffee every single day. But the kind of coffee I drink changes often. The Keurig solved a problem I didn’t recognize until that moment.
One day a month, I take Boniva and must wait an hour to get my coffee. That day is torture. And some days, I drank decaf and others the real stuff. And other times my first cup is caffeinated and then I switched to decaf. But my old coffee-maker had a tough time keeping up.
I fell in love with the Keurig and got one for the next Christmas. After Hurricane Harvey disrupted life and destroyed my kitchen, I got used to having a coffee bar set up on a buffet in my dining room with a vast selection of K-cups. My friend, Jackie, says it made her feel like she is staying in a 5-star hotel when she bunks with us.
That change triggered other travel memories.
Keeping a traveler’s perspective can help you rediscover stuff you’ve forgotten about and find a way to incorporate it back into your life.
Years ago, we spent the night at the Oak Alley plantation in Louisiana. The complimentary breakfast included pillowy beignets and dark roast coffee, flavored with lots of milk and blackstrap molasses. I’d forgotten about the delight of molasses in coffee. You should try it.
I loved the smoky sweetness (and additional health benefits) that molasses gave the coffee, but I had problems getting it to dissolve completely. There would be a big dollop of molasses in that last overwhelmingly sweet sip.
Then I saw my collection of cocktail stirrers from different vacations. They were gathering dust, forgotten in a mug on a shelf. I stuck the prettiest one in my coffee and stirred as I drank. Problem solved and sweetness just right.
A bottle of molasses and those cocktail stirrers joined the Keurig on the dining room coffee service. Hello Downton Abbey!
Bigger changes follow
This probably sounds like a huge exaggeration, but that discovery was transformative. I started really looking at each room with fresh eyes to see what I had ignored or been blind too.
My kitchen was a disaster! It looked okay but when I remembered cooking in kitchens while on vacation, I realized how haphazard it was. Not how it was built but how I had arranged everything.
The traveler’s perspective disrupts my kitchen layout
When we had moved in almost 30 years before, I had put tools, appliances, cookware in certain places and adjusted my cooking routine to where they sat, no matter how awkward. Now I saw with it with a traveler’s perspective.
Try it yourself. If you were on vacation in a kitchen in the vacation rental, were would it make sense to chop things up? Where would things get mixed? What would be the easiest place to put tools for that job?
I discovered deli containers!
Here’s what I discovered. The placement of dishes, glassware and flatware was fine but everything else was a complete mashup. How funny that we will devote all kinds of time to being efficient at work or in other pursuits. Yet when it comes to our homes, we can walk around blind.
For me it was time to BE THERE and get intentional. I thought about when I’d stayed with a friend whose son had just graduated from culinary school. He was starting at the bottom in a well-known French restaurant in Washington D.C. Her son had dumped all her cute Rubbermaid containers and replaced them with 8-ounce and 16-ounce deli containers. You can buy them on line by the dozens for $5.
He explained that these were what chefs used to help restaurant kitchens run more smoothly. You could prep and store exactly the amount you needed later. You don’t waste time looking for the lids. These containers stack better in the refrigerator and freezer. I dumped my mismatched and cracked containers for this cheaper but better replacement. Instantly I was more efficient.
And getting efficient is contagious.
Then I repurposed some big aluminum disposable pans from barbecues and used them for small appliances and their attachments. With that change, I could slide the whole thing into a blind corner cabinet and get a little more usable storage.
Purely decorative baskets gained a purpose from ideas I gathered while traveling. I used them to hold things like storage bags, chili and spaghetti seasoning or baking ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, individual cups of applesauce. Instead of searching through the whole pantry, I could just pull out the appropriate basket and locate what I needed quickly
A big cardboard office file box could fit the multiple bags of chips that were sprawled over the bottom pantry shelf. When I had to buy a container, I went to charity thrift stores and found wire baskets and containers for less than a couple of dollars each.
The traveler’s perspective has me ready for a rebuild
By incorporating little reworks I’ll picked up traveling, I was in much better shape when Hurricane Harvey destroyed my kitchen. Instead of being discombobulated by the forced changes, the little revisions I had already made it easier to view the needed rebuilding as an gift.
I was growing bolder by being open to this opportunity that had come in the disguise of a big stormy mess!
With my traveler’s perspective, I only made one big deviation from my original kitchen. I had both of my base cabinets rebuilt with deep drawers instead of doors and shelves. Once again, this was a setup I had discovered and fallen in love with while traveling. It has worked out perfectly.
A traveler’s perspective doesn’t need a trip
You don’t need a trip to take advantage of your traveler’s perspective. Practice looking at everything you do as if you are a visitor unfamiliar with the task. And let your mind naturally become more open to the reasons why you do things a certain way. Even more important, be okay with suddenly seeing a better way and not being too rigid to try it.
Have you used your traveler’s perspective?
Have you make changes in your life based on something that occurred to you while traveling? What was it and what were the results? I love hearing from you.