Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, former Boston resident Amy Giddon was commuting to work when she saw the Subway Therapy sticky note project on the walls of a New York City subway station. The Post-it notes display gave disconsolate New Yorkers an opportunity to share their post-election emotions, with most expressing words of hope and positivity. Giddon, 56, a business consultant, was so moved by the therapeutic wall of words that she recently cofounded, along with Gregg Trueman, an app called Daily Haloha that mirrors the project’s mission by “creating a collaborative shared experience of reflection, expression, and connection," said Giddon. The free app provides a daily thought-provoking, fill-in-the-blank question, to which participants respond anonymously and in turn receive a Haloha response from another user elsewhere in the world. “Our app is a mindful alternative to mainstream social media,” said Giddon, CEO of Daily Haloha. “We provide a vehicle for highlighting the shared struggles and joys of our humanity, a simple routine to feel more deeply connected to ourselves and others every day.” We caught up with Giddon, a mother of three grown children who lives in New Rochelle, N.Y., with her partner, Paul Derecktor, president of Derecktor Shipyards, and their dog, Mango, and cat, Kinko, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? I fell in love the minute I arrived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It offers everything I love in an old city: cobblestone streets, a central town square with a magnificent church in its center, outdoor markets, a proud and rich history, and interesting architecture, in this case Spanish baroque, and a hilly topography that offers great views and sunsets. But what makes San Miguel de Allende truly unique is the visual arts that are on display everywhere — from high-end galleries to small personal flourishes on the houses. Walking up and down the cobbled streets admiring the painted doors, embellished windows, and whimsical cast doorknockers is just delightful. The city is bursting with color and creativity. Warm people and wonderful food round out the experience.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Whatever is local. I really like to sample whatever the region is known for and ideally with ingredients that are also sourced locally. And if I can get it from a food truck, all the better. If I am at a restaurant, I like to leave it to the server's recommendation, something that they really take pride in serving. A local red wine is preferred but frankly if it's not local, any good red wine is just fine. I tend to stash baggies of nuts everywhere to tide me over between meals.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would like to visit Tunisia when the time is right. I am fascinated by the mix of cultures and histories there; the blend of European and Arab peoples and influences. I would love to explore the outdoor markets, archeological sites, and rich history. And perhaps a day or two relaxing along the Mediterranean and sampling the North African mixed with Italian food!
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My sticky notes! I have pads of them in my backpack and I take them everywhere I go. Sometimes I use them for taking notes, other times for leaving notes. Even if I don't use them at all, they're a colorful inspiration waiting to happen.
Aisle or window? One-hundred percent aisle. I have an aversion to inconveniencing people when I want to get up, which is often.
Favorite childhood travel memory? The six of us used to pile into our family station wagon, parents in the front, kids sprawled all over, and drive to visit my grandmother in Bristol, Va. Over the years, I think we stopped at every Revolutionary and Civil War battle site along the way. I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but those history lessons are etched deep.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? I tend to relax all the usual rules I have for myself when traveling, but what brings me the most pleasure is letting myself hang out the digital "gone fishing" sign, and not feeling like I have to respond to everyone and everything immediately. I can enjoy the moment so much more if I'm untethered to my phone.
Best travel tip? Invite locals to lunch. I stumbled upon the joy and richness of sharing a meal with people native to a place when Paul and I invited our taxi driver in Mexico to join us for lunch. In the conversation we had over the next two hours, I learned more about the region than I ever could have picked up from a travel guide. Plus, we made a friend.