After wrapping up her seven-season run in the hit show New Girl and a December tour for her indie folk duo She & Him, the versatile Zooey Deschanel decided to take a break and travel.
But the star didn’t do random globetrotting. Instead, Deschanel did what she calls purposeful travel. She explores this idea with Capital One’s Purpose Project, an initiative that includes a new web series that examines the impact of travel on our lives.
We chatted with the ebullient Emmy-nominated actress after a visit to Napa for the series, and she shared her favorite travel memories, “lady travel tips” and her ultimate California road trip.
What does purposeful travel mean to you?
Meaningful travel is something I am very passionate about. I can trace who I am back to a lot of trips I took as a child.
Participating in this conversation with Capital One about purposeful travel is very near and dear to my heart. Growing up, my family traveled a lot both for fun and for my father’s work. I lived in many different places, and I was able to experience a lot of different cultures, ranging from the Seychelles to London to Belgrade.
Some of my favorite travel memories from my childhood were road trips in California. There is so much to see and explore in my own home state, from the mountains to the ocean to the desert. I still even love to explore my own city of L.A. Even though I grew up here, there is still so much to explore.
Traveling as a child instilled a sense of curiosity in me that still drives my passion for travel today.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to create these meaningful travel moments with my kids now.
How did that the idea of purposeful travel apply to your Napa trip?
I have a company called The Farm Project, and our passion is local, sustainable food and helping people grow their own food. So, in Napa, I went to a place called Long Meadow Ranch, which is a farm-to-table restaurant. They gave me a tour of their garden, and then I cooked a meal with the stuff they had grown.
It was really fun for me — and delicious. And also, I learned some things. I got to cook in the kitchen with the chef. It was great.
Why is being a champion for sustainable food important to you?
Well, it’s better for our earth and better for people. It’s better for our health. It’s something I got into when I was pregnant with my first child. Our food system is very complicated and, for lack of a better word, messed-up. We wanted to help encourage people to grow their own food and help people grow their own food.
That’s why it’s such a great tie-in with the Purpose Project and meaningful travel, because I really feel like it teaches a perspective that allows you to have gratitude and live a better life.
What are your go-to spots in Napa?
I have gone a number of times and stay at a different place every time. You kind of can’t go wrong. I was at Long Meadow Ranch this last time, and I actually stayed at a place called Meadowood. It has an amazing restaurant and a beautiful hotel. It’s really an amazing place.
Are you a big wine fan?
I rarely drink alcohol, but I do like wine. My father’s family is French, so I grew up visiting Paris and Lyon often and in a household with an appreciation for good wine, so I like to think I inherited that.
What’s your wine of choice?
I prefer white wines, but I like red, too. Sancerre, Chablis.
What are your favorite travel destinations?
Greece is one of my current favorite travel destinations. I love the people, the food, the culture and the history. Having grown up reading Greek myths and studying Greek philosophy and drama, it’s a place I want to go back to again and again.
I only briefly went to Portugal a few years ago, and I really loved it and want to go back there. Always love going to France because that’s where my family is from.
I’ve lived in London a number of times, and that’s a great place to visit.
I also love going around visiting places within the U.S., too. I’ve lived in California, and it’s such a beautiful state. There’s so much to do on a road trip. Up and down the coast there’s a lot to experience.
Where you recommend going along the coast?
Start in San Diego, go up to L.A., go inland to Palm Springs, Death Valley, go through the desert, go to up Santa Barbara, then go up to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. Go to San Francisco, see the redwoods, go to Eureka. You can even go up to the border of Oregon. There’s so much beautiful stuff.
Can you share any travel tips you’ve learned from being on the road so much?
For traveling with kids, if you plan a summer trip, it’s so much easier because your stuff is not as bulky, and it’s a lot easier to pack.
If you really edit your shoes, then you’ll have a much smaller and less difficult-to-carry suitcase. I never take high heels anywhere, unless I really need them for some reason, because they are not comfortable and they take up so much room in your suitcase. These are lady travel tips.
I also pick a color scheme and stick with that. It can be weird or very neutral, but it’s a lot easier if your stuff goes together. You can mix and match your outfits. If I’m going somewhere cold, I’ll always wear my coat on the plane — don’t pack it. They don’t have a limit on the number of coats you can take on the airplane.
Separates are better than packing dresses because you can get more than one outfit out of that usually. I wash a lot of stuff in the sink. Bring a little bottle of some clothes wash. It makes it a lot easier than sending it out of the hotel.
How would you advise others do their own purposeful travel?
Travel is entirely customizable — that’s the thing that’s amazing about it. And now more than ever, you can really get the most out of your travel. Go and explore and find the things you love to do. If you’re passionate about a certain sport, if your passionate about art, if your passionate about food, whatever you’re passionate about, you can plan a city specifically for that or you can go to a city and find likeminded people.
There are so many ways to enjoy a trip, and people more and more are looking for these experiences that change their lives, rather than accumulate things, and that’s exciting.