Surround Yourself with Travel

I am in the process of a move, hence why my postings and tweets have been a little bit on the sporadic side, but it is my own place, very close to my office, and I’m really excited. I have been spending the last few weeks up to my elbows in DIY, color schemes, wall art and the like. And as I have been discussing my themes and ideas with one of my good friends who is a decorating guru, she came up with the idea for this blog post, shout out!

So, I’d call my travel resume middle of the road. I know a lot of people who have traveled to 30 countries, and some who have never left the country, but as I mentioned in my recent Amsterdam post I studied abroad in college for a semester, then did another short stint for a summer in the Greek islands a couple of years ago.

During these travels, I’ve picked up various trinkets, and a box load of pictures. So, I’ve realized why not use them. When I travel, I really try not to pick up those cliche souvenirs, but stuff that is interesting, and shows some of the culture of the place I’m visiting. The bonus being, when I am home, even though I will be spending 50 weeks of my year not traveling, I can still surround myself with memories.

This has a couple of cool benefits. First, I now seem way more interesting to visitors. A few conversation pieces here and there, can not only make a pop in your space, but can bring out a really creative way to show off your travels.

Second, it brings me back to some great memories of places I loved to be.

Third, it inspires me to keep traveling.

Now, I’m not talking about dropping two grand on Persian rugs, or drums, or whatever is the common souvenir in whatever country you are in. Of course, if you can afford to, and you’re looking to dump off some of your stuff, please click on the ‘contact me’ link.

Think simple. When I first got to the Netherlands, what struck me as so interesting was how each brand of beer would be served in their own corresponding glass, with another corresponding coaster. So what I did was, grab a ton of coasters, different beers, different shapes, different colors. Then when I got home, instead of tossing them all in a box and causing a fire hazard in my parents basement, I took an old bookcase, painted it and glued all the coasters on it. Instant art, a conversation piece, and maybe a little bit of more an adult way to show off a bunch of beer coasters. Most importantly, though, it always brings a smile and reminds me of some great beer tasting memories in dive bars all over Europe.

Grab postcards from different countries and frame them, I found a really cool series of vintage looking postcards in a gift shop in Switzerland, showing the Alps, so I bought a simple frame with three openings, and voila, instant wall art. “Oh yea, I just picked those up after I had some fondue in the Swiss Alps.” I know you’re jealous.

Go even simpler, posters, not just for college anymore. I had my first ever Guinness in the Guinness factory in Dublin (I know, I’m shocked they even let me into the country), so while I was there, I bought a poster, it was more subdued, very vintage, with some great colors. Find a great fame, and hang it on the wall, or lean it on the mantle, dress it up a little and you won’t look like you are still decorating dorm style.

Another thing I love are shadow box frames. These things are fantastic, take some old train tickets, museum passes, coins, money, anything and pin them in a shadow box, instant interesting art, great memories, and if you have a collection of stuff, you can switch items in and out.

The key is to think out of the box a little. A great item can not only add color, but texture and pattern to your place. Indonesia has fantastic patterned fabrics, hand made, and usually very affordable, you can buy a few squares and frame them, or make a throw pillow for your bed. I’ve seen a lot of amazing wood products from Africa, masks, posts, petrified wood, etc, grab a few small things, and make a little bookshelf display.

And of course, the easiest (and lightest) thing to do is take pictures. Get in the habit of looking for shots that show great color, interesting architecture or different angles. Rather than a shot of the The Great Wall of China from the viewing deck, take a close shot of an individual stone, or a cool curve, stand under the Riffle Tower and aim up, rather than 50 feet away to get the whole thing. Experiment with different lights, angles and groupings, and you can have a never ending supply of travel memories.

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