We’ve all seen those homes that appear to be perfectly curated and reflective of world travels. A bowl from Morocco here, a hand-woven throw from India there, all perfectly mixed in with the rest of the space and design. Though it may seem like you need to travel the world full-time to achieve this look, we promise you this is not the case! Whether you’re traveling across the world or simply to the next town over, these tips will help you create a space you love, and one that also reflects your travel experiences.
Consider a Collection
If you love collecting artifacts from your travels but struggle with what to bring home, consider cultivating a collection. Don’t end up lugging home something that isn’t your style! Determine the one item you want to keep as a memento from every city or location you travel to; commit to finding that one item. It doesn’t have to be expensive, elaborate, or difficult to find. Little things like matchboxes, totes, or tea towels can make for a fun collection that tells a story.
Think beyond the typical touristy items like magnets or shot glasses, and consider a collection that you’d actually love to have in your home (one that reflects your taste and lifestyle). Do you drink tea every morning at 7:00 a.m. without fail? Consider collecting teacups to create a collection that tells a story and serves a purpose.
Head to the Markets
The first thing I recommend to anyone when they make plans to visit a new place is one simple thing: Find the local market. Markets, whether they sell food, clothing, or antiques, can be one of the best ways to get to know a city and its culture. You can learn about the place you’re in by the vibe and feel of its markets. Not only that, it can be one of the best spots in a city to find a great souvenir for your home.
Keep an open mind, and ask locals to help find your next favorite piece for your home. Rather than coming home with items you can find in any souvenir store, take home local gems that are unique to the area. Can’t find a market? Secondhand shops and vintage stores are two other great options for scoring local artifacts.
Look to Food
Inevitably, when traveling to a new place we find ourselves spending a somewhat embarrassingly large portion of our time eating. While you’re traveling, think about the dishes that you love. Freshly caught fish from the coast of Mexico? The afternoon cheese plate in France? One of our favorite ways to bring travel memories home is to bring a few meals we enjoyed while traveling into our own kitchen.
Visit a local grocery store or food market, and try to find some of your favorite elements of a dish you’ve tried on your trip. Sure, you can’t transport the amazing sea bass you had, but you can get the spices used on the dish and try your hand at cooking it at home. You’ll return home with something unique to cook with, and with something that transports you back to the trip! Olive oil, regional wines, and specialty grains or spices are all great options. But be sure to check regulations; certain food products cannot be transported internationally.
Determine the Region’s Specialty
A foolproof way of ensuring you’ll get a high-quality, unique souvenir for your home is to first find what the region’s specialty is. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of the history and culture of the place you’re visiting helping you know what to look for. Before leaving on your trip (or even when you arrive), read up on the specialties of the region and the history behind it. Murano glass from Venice, or a Turkish rug made by artisans who have been perfecting their craft for years can make for a really special home decor item.
Seek Out Functional Items
It’s easy to think of a souvenir as something that will sit on a shelf and serve no purpose other than to look pretty. See beyond that, and search for items that serve a real function in your home. You’ll end up with items that you not only love, but that you’ll actually use. Take a quick inventory of the odds and ends around your house before your trip: bowls, art for the walls, a new pillow case, etc. Having these key items in mind will help keep you from buying items that you don’t need.
When searching for these items, make sure you look at things that will work with the current design of your home. Will the traditional rug really work well in your ultra-modern loft? Keep your existing decor in mind! That being said, how much cooler is it to use measuring cups from Indonesia than it is to use your battered plastic set from Target?