This afternoon will mark the first time in the last year that travelling hasn’t involved a car and my in-law’s house. Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m actually hopping on a plane and heading to Denver to see a friend. He was here in March 2019 the weekend the world shut down, and we haven’t seen him since save for a few video chats.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

As we start finding ourselves in a place where we feel safe to travel, I suspect a lot of us will be doing just that. After being cooped up (more or less) for the last year, stretching our legs and venturing off to other parts of the world will be a welcome change. So much so we probably won’t mind when we have to cram them into the ever-shrinking space between airplane rows. We will be happy just to go.

Like good little pups, James and I have already booked our vacations for New Orleans and Key West. And if you’re like me, you probably have a list of places you want to go and people you want to see. Of course, be cautious in everything you do. However, no matter where you go, either in the US or elsewhere (many friends have already been to Puerto Vallarta), remember to do one thing:

Pay attention to the architecture.

As we start gearing up to hit the road and sky, we have an opportunity to pull back a little and be mindful of where we are going. An opportunity to think about the destination and surroundings instead of just going for the sake of going. An opportunity to notice the architecture around us.

When planning your next trip, think about places that might be architecturally significant or where the opportunity exists to experience architecture. If you head to Chicago, don’t spend all of your time in the city, although there is plenty to look at. Take the L out to Oak Park and look at the Frank Lloyd Wright and other Prairie Style homes sprinkled throughout the area. Go to the waterfront and Pier 39 in San Francisco, but also wander through the neighborhoods in Telegraph Hill and the Mission District and just look at the houses.

Or if you just go to visit family, take a drive or a walk and see what you find. You may have spent years growing up around architectural beauties but thought “That’s just the local church.” or “That’s just the courthouse.” Even just going to the beach, look for a chance to stay somewhere that isn’t a mega-resort or condo tower. Are you missing out on a great vacation rental or boutique hotel?

Not that I don’t understand getting caught up in the rush and excitement of being someplace new, or perhaps just someplace else. That’s easy to do, as my feet will attest. The first day of my first trip to London I spent traipsing all over the city while James worked. By dinner time, the only place I wanted to go was anywhere I didn’t have to walk to. And after a year of not being anywhere but here, I can see myself doing that again if only out of the excitement of being able to travel.

And if you find yourself somewhere you’ve been many times before, don’t bet you won’t find something new to see. One year at Decadence we arrived a day early, and James willingly (at least I like to thing willingly) wandered across the French Quarter with me as I photographed specific houses I had mapped out from one of my architecture books. And I’m currently reading a San Francisco book that will most likely inform our next visit, assuming James is ready to hike up and down all the hills.

There’s always something to see. As our vaccinations kick in and we venture forth, hopefully you’ll find something new that excites you. As for me, this first trip really won’t be anything architectural, unless you count visiting our friend’s rental house the previous tenants managed to set on fire. This time will be for getting caught up with one another in person, and maybe designing a cocktail or two.

Bon voyage everyone!

Cover image: Andrew Coop