Everyone has certain things that they collect when traveling. Some people love a good mug, or shot glass (guilty of that in high school) or a t-shirt. Over the last few years as my mug collection is at capacity, and I don’t really love taking shots…. I’ve expanded my mind on what sort of things to collect from traveling.
Especially now that we don’t ever print out photos anymore or create physical photo albums, it can be difficult to remember every place you’ve been, or keep memories alive. As I’ve gotten older and have had the amazing opportunity of traveling more, I’ve come up with a few things I swear by to bring home. These are sure to help you remember those amazing moments, make for great gifts and conversation starters. Since today I’m heading to a new city, you can follow on Instagram to see where I’m off to, I thought it was a perfect time to share this list.
MY FAVORITE THINGS TO ALWAYS BRING HOME FROM MY TRAVELS
1. Things For The Home
Recently I read a style book by Emily Henderson called “Styled” and she talked about how to make your home feel more personal and “homey” and one of those things was to display things you’ve picked up during your travels. It made sense as these items then become a nice memory you see everyday and also a great conversation starter when guests come over. I already had a Vernazza magnet on my fridge (one my grandparents and parents had from their past trips too) and an eiffel tower from my first visit to Paris. Every time I looked at these two tiny, inexpensive things, I would always be reminded of that trip. The great memories and stories that came along with it too. I don’t know why I never thought of this and putting more effort into it when I travel. But after reading it and going on a few trips I tried to seek out things for my home and now I’m hooked.
While in Thailand I picked up a few baskets from a cute small one I keep on my bar full of wine corks (I actually write the date and memory on the corks, I love it!) to a cutting board I use almost daily and beautiful linen placemats you see below that have been knotted and placed in another fun basket I found. I almost always get someone asking about the baskets in my home when they first come over.
While in Greece we stumbled onto a cute Golden Retriever that was an adorable shop dog in Oia. Genius marketing if you ask me. We walked in and bought these beautiful ceramic white and blue bowls. I have two in my house and brought them home for my sister and my parents.
2. Little Chotchkies
For those of you who don’t know what chotchkies are, that’s yiddish for decorative knick knack or useless crap. I choose knick knack to define these. I don’t love having little knick knacks all over my house as it can make it feel cluttered and messy very quickly. But I have the perfect solution for them. And since not every city I travel to may have great handmade home items, it’s nice to pick up something else that you know every city will have, a little souvenir from the city!
Some cities are easier than others to find unique home made items for your home. For example, Paris and London were a little difficult and instead I grabbed your standard souvenirs, a mini eiffel tower and a mini telephone booth. Since these were starting to collect, I decided to fill up this glass dome. I like to call it my treasure chest as it’s full of little treasures I’ve found during my travels. It’s a nice way to display things in an organized and pretty way without it cluttering up your home. It lives on my coffee table and everyone can see a little piece of my past travels.
I regret not starting this years ago as just about every single city has those little stands full of tiny replica’s of famous landmarks in that city. My solution? I guess I’ll just have to go back to all of them and start collecting again.
3. Easy To Travel With Food Items
To macarons from Ladureé, to delicious wine from Santorini, every city has something special and delicious you can bring home. I was hesitant to bring home wine from overseas, but guess what, it’s so not a big deal. Just pack it in the middle of your suitcase and check the bag. So long as your suitcase is nice and full it really should be fine. If you’re traveling to wine country they even offer these great boxes that are padded and you just check it when you fly home.
While in Thailand we fell in love with these thai dried chili flakes that were at every meal we had. While at a market we picked up a giant bag of it. I’ve been adding it my morning eggs almost every day since. And also my sad attempt of Pad Thai.
Picking up something delicious is always in my opinion, the best gift to give when you return too. If you find yourself having to pick something up for a loved one when you travel I can’t recommend grabbing something delicious. It’s a little bit of the culture and lets them experience it as well.
Keep in mind when traveling with food that you typically can not bring fruits or vegetables with you. Keep it to spices, wines, oils and snacks or candy. Make sure to pack smart as well and put your liquids in your checked luggage so you aren’t tossing your new finds during your security check.
4. Other Ideas To Bring Home
Another fun item I like to try to collect are matchbooks at the restaurants I visit. I keep a small gold tray on my coffee table with them. They’re small, colorful and are a fun reminder of great memories around food.
Dog toy for your furry friend. When I travel, I always feel so guilty leaving Pork so coming home with a fun stuffed animal in hand makes me feel like a better dog mom. I usually grab a stuffed animal that represents the country, like a donkey in Greece, or elephant in Thailand. I suppose this would also work for children, but you know, I have Pork. And she’s my everything.
When traveling to somewhere so new and exciting that I know I’ll want to bring home all the things, I like to pack an extra empty soft duffle. It allows me to fill it up with all the things and not worry about leaving extra space in my luggage when packing. I use this duffle as my soft one when I travel that doesn’t take up too much space. Plus, if I want to check it, I know it’ll survive being thrown around a bit and not fall apart.
PS you can see all my travel posts here broken down by state or category!
Photos by JNelly