When your walls tell a story, your home is a lot more interesting.
During my sophomore year in high school, I tagged along with my parents to visit my oldest brother in Spain who was studying abroad in Toledo. During that trip, my parents purchased a traditional Spanish hand painted tile mirror for the house. Oh the memories of carrying the 2.5′ x 3′ mirror through international airports and praying it made it home in one piece.
On another such trip, we visited my middle sister in Ecuador where my parents purchased a brass mobile at the Guyasamín museum. Another adventure getting it home, but all worth it, as it has become another wonderful reminder of an amazing trip that I see every time I visit my parents.
So, I owe it to my parents’ own habits for inspiring my approach to how I purchase souvenirs when traveling. Since high school, when I became a bit more aware of my surroundings and style, I started buying things on trips that I could display as decór somehow. The best place to find such treasures? Often in open air markets, bazaars, street fairs and such. A new book, Nomad: a global approach to interior style, coming out soon from Chronicle Books reminded me of my own travel buying habits, and so I thought I’d share.
The most common item I buy are little paintings, ceramics and the occasional photograph. Sprinkled into the mix are three dimensional items such as a cobbler’s foot mold I picked up at a vide grenier in France, or hanging elephants from Mumbai that cost less than $1. When looking for your own treasures to remember a trip by, make sure to think about the following:
- How the item will travel: Too fragile? Do you have space in your suitcase or carry on? Is shipping an option?
- How much the item costs: Can you negotiate? Is it something that will remind you of your visit?
- What will you do with it at home? Will it actually go with what you already have? What room do you see it in?
- Is it unique to the place your visiting? Find out if your destination is known for certain goods (ie: Italy – Leather, Spain – Shoes, China – Silk, Prague – Crystal, etc.)
- Limit your buying to one or two nicer items vs. a lot of little trinkets.
Best way to display? Wall collages of course! Check out more inspiration found by SF Girl by Bay (vintage inspired, but you get the idea).
I would take the Nomadic lifestyle one step further and extend it into fashion. The other things I look to buy, if not something to decorate my home, are jewelry pieces or a fashion item that is significant to a place. I find people striking up conversations with me about the turquoise earrings I picked up on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Or the Feather Hat Pin from the Neuschwanstein Castle gift shop in Germany for €5.