Travel and Personal Growth: Trisha Pérez Kennealy Of Inn at Hastings Park On Why & How Traveling Can Help Us Become Better Human Beings

An interview with Maria Angelova


Travel light–I have a rule about packing. If you cannot carry everything you are bringing on a trip yourself, you have overpacked. I prefer not to check in luggage. I have been burned a few times–skiing without all of the necessary layers, weddings without dresses. Black is quite versatile and fewer higher quality pieces go a long way.

Thankfully, the world is open for travel once again. Traveling can broaden our horizons and make space for people to become more open-minded. How can travel give us the opportunity for personal growth? What are some ways that travel can help us become better human beings? As a part of our series about “How Traveling Can Help Us Become Better Human Beings”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Trisha Pérez Kennealy.

Trisha Pérez Kennealy is a mom, chef, and Owner/Culinary Educator of the Inn at Hastings Park, the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in the Boston area. Trisha is one part business entrepreneur with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and one part chef, having earned her Diplôme de Cuisine and Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in London. Trisha grew up in Puerto Rico and spent much of her childhood with her multi-generational family sitting around the table sharing food and stories. From Puerto Rico, Trisha’s family moved to Lexington, mA and stayed for its sense of civic engagement, its reverence for its rich history, and its eclectic mixture of cultures, religions, and people. With the Inn at Hastings Park, Trisha can share her love of Lexington and her passion for good food and gracious hospitality with travelers from far and near.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Puerto Rico. I loved going to the beach and spending time with family and friends enjoying delicious food. As we had a lot of family in the continental United States, we traveled a lot. Some of those experiences had a profound impact on the way we do things at the Inn at Hastings Park. The warmth I try to extend to all of our guests was inspired by the feelings I experienced as a guest at hotels in different parts of the world — from Lake Champlain in Vermont to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I was inspired to be an entrepreneur by my father. He was a certified public accountant at one of the big eight accounting firms. He left the comfort and security of that environment to start his own accounting practice in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After he sold that company to a different big eight accounting firm, he pursued a dream and attended Harvard Business School in his late thirties. That decision brought my family to Lexington, Massachusetts — where the Inn at Hastings Park is located. I always knew that I wanted to be in business for myself, but it took longer for me to realize that I wanted to have a food related business. I also attended Harvard Business School, and one of the leading professors of entrepreneurship always spoke about having passion for your business being an integral component of long term success. As I progressed through my very traditional job in finance I began to realize how much I loved cooking for and with other people. It is one of the primary ways that I show my love and affection. I opened the Inn to create a platform for sharing that passion.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My parents raised me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to. That attitude has always set me up for success. They have been instrumental in so many ways from helping me manage the development of the Inn, to being my go-to drivers and babysitters when my children were younger. I would not be where I am today without them.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Just because I think something is a great idea, does not mean everyone will feel the same way. You have to be able to articulate your ideas clearly so that people can understand your vision. Listening and answering questions and defending your ideas only helps make those ideas stronger and more inclusive. On the funny side–I have learned the importance of being prepared the hard way. I try to use lists as often as I can even when I am in a hurry– it is even more important when I am in a hurry. I was doing a live cooking demo and had checked off that I had eggs because I saw a carton on my counter. Checking things thoroughly goes a long way–I am in the middle of the shoot and opened the carton to discover I did not have enough eggs for the recipe, and had to fake making the recipe!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

It is always the right time to do the right thing. I am a very definitive person with a strong sense of right and wrong. When I see something that is not right or seems unfair, I do my best to address the situation as quickly and empathetically as I can. I am proud of being the type of person people consider dependable.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have been having a lot of fun with my social media as it has provided me with a great platform for sharing my passion and love for cooking easily and directly with others.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss travel and personal growth. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or personal experience, why do you think travel can lead to personal growth? Can you share a story?

Travel leads to personal growth because the world is a classroom. I have learned so much about other cultures as well as myself through traveling and meeting people all over the world. Always be open to the adventure.

A recent survey from Psychology Today showed that over 80% of participants found that travel helped them with problem solving or decision making. Why do you think this is true for so many people?

The beauty of travel is that you are confronted with the task of decision making in the face of the unknown. Having to navigate through a new city or communicate without having a common language teaches you to be adventurous and resilient. Problem solving and decision making requires individuals to assess facts to determine what you are going to do next. The greater the diversity of experiences you have to draw on as an individual, the better decisions you will make.

Do you think travel enhances our mindfulness, optimism, or sense of gratitude? How? Can you please explain with an example or story?

I think travel enhances mindfulness, optimism, and gratitude. My mindfulness is enhanced through seeing beautiful scenery and landscapes. I love that feeling when you arrive somewhere new and the landscape is unlike anything you have ever seen before. I am reminded of the experiences of swimming with baby sharks in Australia and hiking along a VERY steep (I am terrified of heights!) trail along a fjord in Norway. One of my favorite things to do is watch waves breaking on the shore. I find it reassuring to see the continuity of the waves coming into shore over and over again. I love visiting historical places, especially those where people have overcome obstacles because they inspire me to be optimistic. The glass is always half full. I think of sailing into Normandy and being in complete awe of the men and women who stormed those cliffs to turn the tide of World War II. I have learned to be more grateful from people around the world who are satisfied by the simplest pleasures, albeit a piece of fresh fruit just picked from a tree, or a spiny lobster caught by the indigenous people off the coast of Panama cooked over an open flame on an uninhabited island. Life is great!

Surely not everyone who travels automatically becomes an exemplar of human decency. What are a few reasons why some people completely miss out on the growth opportunities that travel can offer?

The primary reason people miss out on growth opportunities when they travel is by having a preconceived notion of what the place they are visiting should be like, or expecting it or wanting it to be just like home. Do your homework before you travel to learn about the history and the culture of the people and countries you are visiting. Why would I go to Italy and order a hamburger?

Thank you for that. Now for our main question; What are your “5 Habits You Should Develop In Order Make Travel Into An Opportunity For Personal Growth?”

  1. “Hello,” “please,” and “thank you” are the magic words. Always say hello, please, and thank you to everyone you encounter in your travels. If you can learn how to say it in the local language, even better. I think of myself as an ambassador when I travel. I find that using these words literally opens doors to the unexpected. Everyone deserves to be seen and acknowledged–it brings out the best in everyone.
  2. Be curious — learn as much as you can about different people, places and their stories. There are some places my family visits every year. Some of the people that live and work in these places have become dear friends. After Hurricane Maria, I reached out to some of those friends in Puerto Rico to see if they needed any help. Thankfully they were okay. I know they would do the same for me if the situation had been reversed.
  3. Eat like a local. Go to a food market or a restaurant off the beaten track and eat like a local — you learn so much through food and eating and the significant role it plays in nourishing and nurturing us. Food can also be used to convey respect when you don’t have a common spoken language. While in Tokyo, I had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant right outside the famous fish market. The sushi chef had already presented the first piece of sushi when he learned we were chefs. He quickly shifted course and proudly served us a shrimp that was still moving. To me it was a symbol of our mutual respect — he rightfully perceived how much we admired and valued his craft and was proud to share his food with us.
  4. Nurture your soul. As a Puerto Rican-Jewish woman married to an Irish-American man, I am comfortable in many religious settings. I am particularly interested in places where different religions and types of spirituality overlap, as I like to focus on ideas we have in common. I love visiting temples, synagogues, cathedrals, mosques, and other places of spiritual significance when I travel. These types of buildings convey so much about a place. I have drawn great inspiration from places like the Shinto temples in Tokyo, the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, and the pyramids in Tulum, Mexico to name a few. In April of 2001, I attended Easter Mass in Istanbul while hearing the call to prayer from the many mosques, mindful that it was the last day of Passover. How lucky am I that I live in a world that I can draw inspiration from the goodness that these different religions have to offer.
  5. Travel light–I have a rule about packing. If you cannot carry everything you are bringing on a trip yourself, you have overpacked. I prefer not to check in luggage. I have been burned a few times–skiing without all of the necessary layers, weddings without dresses. Black is quite versatile and fewer higher quality pieces go a long way.

From your experience, does travel have a negative impact on personal growth too? Is there a downside to travel?

Between January of 2000 and the summer of 2001, I traveled between Boston, MA and San Francisco, California almost on a weekly basis for my job. This type of travel can be exhausting if you let it be. You need to be disciplined when traveling that frequently about developing an exercise routine and consistency with your diet. Do eat like a local but recognize that you cannot always splurge on your diet when traveling that much and expect to feel well. I was lucky that I was traveling to the same place so I could establish a routine.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

Jennifer Lopez — I think we would have a good time!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

For the Inn, follow @innhastingspark on Instagram or visit us at

You can find me at @trishaperezkennealy on both Instagram and, TikTok

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.