Rashida Jones Knows You’re Not Travelling Far

We spoke to Jones about her new collection with Away, her favourite trip of all time and why you don't need to get on a plane to enjoy the world around you—or a piece of great luggage

It’s safe to say that very few people are hopping on a plane right now with the frequency or enthusiasm they once did. (You know, that whole pandemic thing.) But that doesn’t mean that we can’t dream—about that delicious dumpling we had in a tea house in Shanghai eight years ago, or that road trip across Canada last summer. And it definitely doesn’t mean we can’t visualize the trips to come; whether it’s dreaming about eating a pizza lunch in Rome, surfing off the coast of Australia, or maybe just taking a weekend trip outside of your city. Rashida Jones knows most of us are not travelling extensively at the moment, but she also knows that you don’t necessarily have to fly to an exotic destination to enjoy travel or seek creative inspiration. That’s why the Parks and Recreation actor has partnered with Away on a collection, launching October 20, that’s inspired by the environment around her home in Ojai, California. “I’ve always thought of travel as aspirational,” Jones tells FLARE. “Equally important [to the trip itself] is the lead up to the trip and the anticipation, the planning and the excitement; how it impacts your life before you even get to that trip.”

FLARE chatted with the Jones from her home in California (while she did laundry, nonetheless!) about the Away by Rashida Jones collection, her favourite trip ever and why you don’t need to actually be jet-setting to appreciate travel—and great luggage.

Luggage is sentimental for Rashida Jones

Chances are you remember your first piece of *real* luggage. For many, making the transition from that old soccer bag that doubles as a duffle bag for sleepovers to an actual piece of luggage, like a rolling suitcase carefully chosen from the rows at Hudson’s Bay or Winners (or Holts if you’re fancy) was a turning point of sorts, symbolizing a moment in your life. Maybe it was your first trip abroad without your parents when you declared your independence and just *knew* you’d have a romance like Lizzie McGuire’s in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, maybe it was the summer before you moved away for post-secondary school, or maybe it was a treat you bought yourself, after saving up months of paycheques, then stored away as you dreamed of all the places you’d take it. Regardless of why you bought it, luggage often has a story and a sense of sentimentality. Jones feels that, although her first piece of real “adult” luggage looked a little different than the pieces we typically gravitate towards to now. ”I remember moving into my freshmen dorm room and I had a trunk,” she says. “I literally went and got a trunk, which is the least convenient piece of luggage anybody could imagine, but it was the cool thing to do in the nineties. You got a trunk and then you brought your trunk and then you kind of stored stuff in it.”

Looking back on her choice of luggage now, which says was “functional in some regards, but so heavy and hard to bring cross country,” Jones notes how far luggage has come since her trunk days. It’s a visual articulation of the person who owns it. “I love that you feel like it’s an expression of your aesthetic, because when you’re traveling, luggage is an accessory. You’re thinking about the clothes you’re wearing, the shoes you’re wearing and the bag that you’re carrying; so it’s this kind of natural extension of who you are.”

(Rashida Jones models The Belt Bag from the Away by Rashida Jones Collection; Photo: Away)
(Rashida Jones models The Belt Bag from the Away by Rashida Jones Collection; Photo: Away)

Jones’s favourite travel destination is Japan

While the days of dragging a trunk around are long behind her, Jones’s love of luggage—and travel—has always been a constant. Especially her love for Japan, a place she has visited once and can’t forget. “I absolutely loved Japan and I love Tokyo,” she says. “It’s such a rich, dense place that’s filled with so many wonderful traditions and ancient culture, plus new kinds of interpretations.”

Jones is especially drawn to the thoughtfulness and consideration that’s woven into everyday activities in Japan, including the art of shopping. ”It’s a fantasy world for anybody who considers themselves interested in design or fashion or anything that’s visual and tactile,” she says of Japan. “I just feel so inspired every time I go there and buy something and then everything from the process of choosing, selecting something and then seeing how special that thing is, where they wrap it up and present the receipt to you. The entire process of shopping in Japan and eating in Japan; it’s just so respectful of the process and it’s so inspiring. It makes you want to be way more thoughtful about how you manage your whole life.”

Once it’s safer for people to travel, Jones says she’d love to go back to the country, something she promised herself she’d do every year after her first visit, and hasn’t been able to follow through on. “But I also can’t wait to go back to Europe,” she says. “I was planning on going to Europe for a good part of the summer and I want to be able to do that again for sure.”

The Away by Rashida Jones Collection was inspired by Jones’s current environment

And while Jones waits to book her next ticket to Japan, she’s taking inspiration from the beauty right outside her door. The Away by Rashida Jones collection, which features luggage, a duffle bag, belt bag, packing cubes and a tablet case was informed by Jones’s constant search for “a beautiful, perfect travel system.” The line’s colour palette, which includes a striking copper shade, was plucked directly from the landscape around her own Ojai home. It’s this locale—which Jones has been travelling back and forth to from her other home in Los Angeles during the pandemic—that lends itself to the rich browns and natural tones in the collection, as well as a blue that legit looks like something plucked from the night sky. “I spend a lot of time in Ojai, I have a home in Ojai, and it’s been so nice because it doesn’t feel like a vacation, it actually feels like my home now,” she says of spending time in the mountains of California during the pandemic.

(The Away by Rashida Jones Collection; Photo: Away)
(The Away by Rashida Jones Collection; Photo: Away)

Which isn’t to say that the pandemic has been *entirely* creatively fruitful for the film producer. Like many people right now, Jones says it’s been hard to find her usual spark of creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think you have to sort of work a little harder to find inspiration,” she says.

“Being in nature as much as I can [helps], but it’s difficult,” she adds.  “I have to intentionally go somewhere, whether it’s with a movie or with a book, [I have to] dress to walk somewhere where I feel like I can get something that I’m not getting by just sitting in my home. It’s possible, it’s just been more challenging at this time.” Instead, Jones says she’s been taking this time in quarantine to do all the things she’s been promising herself she’d do in her adult life, i.e. drinking more water, taking care of her skin, working out five times a week and trying out new recipes. “I’ve been trying my best to use this time as some kind of bettering,” she says. “It might all be a blur anyway, but hopefully I’ll have learned a little bit more and have more life skills when I come out.”

And Jones believes that actual travel is only part of the allure

As for why people should be investing in luggage right now? For one, it’s cute as heck. But also, because planning for travel and collecting luggage you love is in and of itself an act of self-care. “Equally important [to the trip itself] is the lead up to the trip and the anticipation, the planning and the excitement. How it impacts your life before you even get to that trip,” Jones says. “For me, if I know that I have something in front of me, a trip that I’ve planned a couple of months ahead, it just informs the way that I move in the world and how I do my work and how I live my life, because I’m excited to prepare for that moment.” And, she adds, part of that preparation and excitement is packing. “Part of that is what you’ll be traveling with and where you’re going and what your accessories are.”

Not to mention the fact that the Away by Rashida Jones Collection *isn’t* specific to an airport; you can use pieces like the duffle and the belt bag for your overnight trips or staycations. “But I also feel like I am fantasizing about the next time I get to travel and what that’s gonna look like and how I’m going to approach it,” she continues. “And hoping that I’ve organized things around that moment in a way that feels as fulfilling as I think it’s going to feel.”

With her love for travel, does this mean we can expect to see another Away collection from Jones, inspired by another gorgeous destination she loves? Definitely don’t write it off. “I do love Japan,” Jones says of locations that might inspire future collections. “I [also] love Hawaii, and I love London; just the entire country of Italy.” (Which, same). Needless to say, there’s a lot of inspo to choose from. “I’m just putting it out to the universe.”

The Away by Rashida Jones Collection is available to shop at Away’s Canadian retail location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre or at awaytravel.com