Lorna Kuehn, from the United States, began traveling outside of her home country at the age of 45 and is now going on 5 years of visiting new countries and experiencing new cultures. Her first trip abroad was to Italy back in 2015. She has now been back to Italy twice, experienced Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and England. A couple weeks ago we interviewed her husband Jeremy Kuehn, now we get her perspective.
When asked if she had always wanted to travel, Lorna said “I had thought about it a lot when I was a teenager and young adult, and had stopped thinking about it until the last probably 14-15 years.” Growing up, Lorna would play with ideas of taking us, her 4 kids, out of school to move us to France to study abroad there as teenagers. “I talked to you when you were about 12-ish. But then started talking like we could really do it, get a villa, go to France somewhere when I realized that this was it, here. That if we didn’t do something different, that all we would ever know is just our own experience right here.”
Lorna told us then what got her interested in travel in the beginning. “Experiencing something different than the norm. The idea that there is something bigger than just here out there. I knew there was more than just what we do in America, and I wanted to see what that looked like for other people in other countries. The first time we went, part of it was to get away. Part of it was ignorance, not knowing what was there other than just seeing pictures, which in my world didn’t seem real, or like it was as portrayed. So now, it’s something I look forward to. Now, it’s with purpose. It’s now more about education and fuller experiences. When I look at where I want to go, it’s not ‘Where’s the sun and surf?’ it’s ‘Where do I want to know more about?’ or ‘What are new experiences I’d like to have?’.”
She also shared with us about her memories from her first time in Italy. “There may easily be people in the United States that live like people do in Italy, but noticing that everyone puts their pants on the same, and everyone has to have their food to keep going, and people have a job, but the lifestyle in varying degrees of classes is different. Whether it’s someone working at a local market, or a taxi driver, or some business man or woman, the value of the moment is so much more important. Not necessarily life, because I think American’s value their lives too and their livelihoods, and what they’re doing, but even in some upper-class areas, the pace is more breathable. The mentality about ‘there’s no hurry, we have time, we can enjoy each other, we can enjoy the experience’, whether it’s the food, or coffee. There’s a connection there, that even if it’s only for 10 minutes, or in some cases where we were there for over an hour in the process of purchasing things, there was a connection there. You knew that to sell whatever they were selling was important, but it also mattered that there was a connection with you. At first, I thought it was strange that it was insulting if you just went in and said ‘I want to buy this. How much?’ and then tried to pay for it. But I got to where I enjoyed them asking ‘How was your day? Have you enjoyed the sun?’ or ‘We’re looking forward to some rain later’, ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Is this your family?’, ‘Oh, this is your husband? How long have you been married? Do you have kids?’. Or being told ‘My son Nikko would be here, he is going to take over the family business, but this is what he’s doing with his girlfriend today, and his mother and I tell him No, you can’t do that, and yet, their young’. But it was like I walked out having some bit of insight into their world on a personal level and not just business. I enjoyed that.”
Lastly, we asked her how she thought traveling has changed the way she interacts with people. “I came back the first time feeling like ‘Oh, I’ve got to come home and change so many things’, and the first of the 3 main things, was live with less. The less things I own, the less things manage me, the less things I have to worry about and the more I can appreciate whatever I do have in my life: people, places and things. So, live with less. And second part of that was being more grateful what I do have and being able to appreciate what I do have more. The other was time. Slow down. Even though there are deadlines and other things happening, there’s more time. I mean, we never know when our times out, but for the time we’re here, there’s more time for things than I act like there is. Living more purposefully so that the things that matter the most to me are what I give the most time to.”