Say goodbye to cookie-cutter vacations that leave you as worn returning home as you were before you left. Laurence Pasquiertakes vacationing off the beaten path. Her new series of travel books promises to help you “discover the world, but also yourself”.
Q: Laurence, how did the idea of “Road to Quiet” come about
A: Well, that’s quite a story! And a very personal one too. In fact, this has been an amazing journey in itself.
A few years ago, I went through a rough time and I started exploring who I really was and mostly who I wanted to be. I started reading Eckhart Tolle and Don Miguel Ruiz, whose approach to spirituality really fascinated me. From then it was only one step until I started meditating daily, listening to Deepak Chopra on my phone. If I had to pick one, I think the most important thing I learned is that we create our own lives, from the inside. We alone decide what feelings we allow to take residence inside of us. So happiness is a matter of perception, and the quickest route to it is to nurture positive thoughts of gratitude for what is, instead of focusing on what isn’t.
And then there was a morning in Sri Lanka last March, when I was watching the sunrise on top of a sacred mountain I had just spent the night climbing with hundreds of Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian pilgrims. I look upon this moment as a true turning point, a moment where time stood still to open a new path for me. It was just a regular holiday, but I knew then that nothing would ever be the same, that I could not go back to my 9-to-5. I wanted to stay on the road, to keep exploring, keep discovering. So I started asking myself what could I possibly do, for a living, that would combine my love for travels with my career as a journalist, and my growing passion and curiosity for spiritual understandings.
But the real kick-off moment was a conversation with one of my dearest friends and the one who possibly knows me the best. I was once more asking those questions out loud and here she came out with it. “What if you wrote about spiritual travel?” BAM! In an instant, she had just given me the most beautiful present. The idea. And my mind started racing…
Q: On your website, it says “It’s not just about where to travel anymore, it’s about how to travel” can you explain that concept?
A: Travel is shifting from relaxing to reflecting.With technology embedding itself further and further into our reality, we’re seeking ways to disconnect from our fast-paced lives and reconnect with ourselves, with nature, with the universe. Travel allows time for calm thought and research shows that mindful wandering is gaining traction, as a way to find balance and mental well-being, a way to find meaning. But today’s travelers are looking for natural connection too, eager to get off-the-beaten-path and off-the-grid, to untarnished lands. They also seek to connect with locals on a much deeper level, not as tourists but as friends. If you look at Instagram or Pinterest, those who live a simple, wholesome lifestyle in the great outdoors are the new influencers.
This is why I want to offer these travel books, as tools to curate your own mindful journey. Exotic group retreats have never been more popular and there are a plethora of yoga or meditation retreats out there. Religious affiliations are going down but spending on spiritual wellness goes up worldwide. Yet, there isn’t currently any help out there for people who want to craft their own journey, following a spiritual path outside of any pre-packaged holiday. There is no alternative to the expensive ready-made spiritual vacation, to cater to the more adventurous travelers, like me and many more.
Q: Can you tell me about your travels and the places you’ve been?
A: The first time I got my backpack was for a trip to Mexico, where my brother got married, to a Mayan girl. The funny thing is I wasn’t so keen on this destination at the time. It wasn’t on my “list”. But then I found myself alone, fresh off the plane, looking for my friends on a deserted beach lit by torches, in a paradisiac setting full of promises for new adventures. And that’s when the bug bit me. I’d traveled before to many countries in Europe, to North America and Canada, and even to China, although that was for work. But somehow up to that point it had never felt so exciting. This opened a new page and from then on I wanted my backpack to see as much of the world as possible. The following year I spent several weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam, and since then there’s been more trips to America, there’s been Singapore, Sri Lanka and more recently Israel. But the more I travel, the more the “list” grows…
Q: What would you say is the biggest problem with commercially packaged vacations?
A: Honestly, prices. This, to me, is the worst thing about them. If you’re looking for a spiritual experience, you should not have to pay thousands of dollars or euros to find it. But also, I can’t help but think they lack authenticity. It’s not quite the same visiting remote places with a big group than it is to find yourself absolutely alone, or with your own selected few, to face your thoughts and feelings, is it? Obviously, it’s great to benefit from the experienced, local spiritual guides that tell you about their culture’s ancient traditions but I am convinced you can connect with these people without enrolling into a group holiday where everything is organized and planned for you. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are great group holidays out there too, I know a few, but still, I find they are a very big financial investment and not everyone can afford them. I can’t…