Thanks to an academic essay published in Applied Research in Quality of Life in 2010, research tells us that more than half the joy of travel comes before the vacation even begins—in the anticipation and planning portion of the holiday. It’s this kind of research that makes all the ruminating Rashida Jones has done—on where she’d like to go when all this is over—that much more legitimate. The title of that study was “Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday.”
“I’m really excited to go back to Scandinavia and to Italy—Italy so much,” she tells me. Where in Italy? “Everywhere, everywhere. I love it! Last summer, I went to the Tuscan coast and it was so beautiful. Because it’s Tuscany, there’re all those rolling hills, but then you’re right there on the water.” She reiterates: “I love Italy so much.”
When she does make it to Italy, Jones will be fully equipped luggage-wise. With her, she’ll bring bags of her own design—items belonging to her second collection for the device-friendly luggage company Away, which launches online today. The line features hard-case rollaboards (one in a glinty metallic copper and one that transitions from black to azul) along with leather tablet cases, weekender duffle bags, packing cubes, and a fanny pack-like accessory to be slung crossbody.
“Away has never done an ombré before and I really wanted to make that happen. It took some testing, trials, and developing to get the right color combination for it to look good and wear well. I liked the practical meeting the fantastical element of developing something that was first inspired by a thought or a feeling,” Jones explains. The jumping-off point was Jones’s home base of Ojai, California. The village rests at the bottom of a valley in the Topatopa Mountains, where the skies seem to rearrange themselves into a brilliant ombré twice a day at sunrise and sunset.
“It has been said that Ojai is a spiritual vortex, whatever that means. But the way I interpret that is the minute you enter the valley, you drop down into some other frequency. It’s really hard not to unwind or think about things in a slightly different way when you’re there,” she says.
For the most part, Jones has stayed put in Southern California, but her biggest pandemic-era excursion was a work trip to New York, where she attended the New York Film Festival premiere of her latest film, On the Rocks, directed by Sofia Coppola and co-starring Bill Murray. On September 22nd, the cast, crew, and more congregated at a Queens parking lot for a drive-in screening of the low-key comedy which sees Jones playing a disenchanted New Yorker whose husband might be dabbling with infidelity—she enlists her waitress-flirting father (a suave Murray) to help suss out the maybe affair. As it turns out, the premiere was Jones’s first-ever drive-in experience.
On releasing a film during a pandemic in a socially-distanced manner, Jones explains, “It was different, but actually very cool. I think it was right for that movie too because the movie is instant nostalgia. The film takes place in New York and the city is used heavily, visually, in the movie. To be in Queens, at a drive-in, eating popcorn—it kinda made sense.”
On the Rocks was the second major project of hers released after the world awoke to the reality of COVID. In April, Kenya Barris’s #blackAF quietly appeared on Netflix and was quickly gobbled up by audiences. “We just canceled everything, basically. We did very little press for the show because nobody had a backup plan. Zoom wasn’t a thing yet. People didn’t have the infrastructure,” she says. “The lockdown had just hit, people were in a panic. I hope that we provided people some laughs when they needed them.”
Like the rest of us in 2020, Jones has spent a lot of time confined at home. “I’ve been through every iteration of lockdown: I went through my banana bread phase. I went through my pasta phase. I went through making cauliflower pizza crust, muffins, brownies. So there was a lot of baking my feelings and exploring different countries through food and movies and TV. [My family] was way more diligent at the beginning. We had like a little movie club and we watched a lot of Billy Wilder films, which were so nice and transporting and fun at a time when nothing felt very buoyant. I rewatched In the Mood for Love, I just loved the visuals of that movie.”
Now, Jones has entered whats she’s calling the pragmatic phase. Making doctor’s appointments and going through the motions as best she can in an attempt to grasp onto what little normalcy can be found. “It’s a good time to remember why we travel,” she says. “For me, travel is always aspirational. The idea of planning to go somewhere, whether it’s tomorrow or in six months—hopefully in six months!—and the excitement that I get from aspiring to a trip is a huge part of how I interact with travel.” If the lead up is as joyful as the main event, perhaps it’s not the worst thing to draw it out.