I think people often struggle to find ways to bring their travels, the memories and feelings, back home. Whether it be through pictures, postcards, or collections of refrigerator magnets, we often want to compartmentalize that experience into something tangible. Something tangible that, when we look at it, brings back hints of those dreamlike feelings we had on the road.
I don’t think this is a bad thing, not one bit! I was fortunate enough to have been passed down the “hoarding” gene by my grandma, Reeree, so I do love me some stuff. So here are some of the ways, both tangible and intangible, that I bring my experiences home, where they can live on!
1. MAPS! I love maps. For this idea, get a map of where you’re travelling and have all the people you meet/friends you go with write comments on it. I also drew in the route and added tidbits that I knew I would forget later.
2. If you’ve travelled to a foreign country and are anything like me, you invariably find a gazillion unused coins of foreign currency when you get home. Rather than keeping it in your wallet, where you’ll continue to mistake that Euro for a quarter, turn it into some home decor! I spray painted a piece of cardboard metallic silver, then hot glued all of my unused coins on!
3. Collect something in each city/state/country you go. On my study abroad (Semester at Sea), people had some pretty neat collections going by the end. Country flags, patches, jewelry. I collected paintings. I found that in most places, you can get original work from street artists for pretty cheap. Help the community a bit and have a cool home accent!
4. Buy home goods instead of cheap souvenirs. When I was doing most of my traveling, I didn’t have my own apartment yet but I thought, “Future Sarah will probably appreciate if I buy this bread bowl, or these placemats, or this doormat.” And you know what? Thank you past Sarah! If you’re going to shop, buy things that you will use daily. They’ll always remind you of that time, that city, that market, and it brings a spark to everyday life.
5. Buy patterns or fabrics. If I sewed, this would be even better, but alas I do not. Regardless, buying neat fabrics that carry the energy of a place can be a really fun accent to your home. Plus, you never know, you could learn to sew.
6. Cook foods from the places you visited. Nothing brings you back to Italy quite like a carefully crafted bruschetta (someday I’ll perfect all the other Italian dishes).
7. Scrap it! This may be one of my favorite possessions, and it’s so easy/basically free to make. From every trip I go on, I collect ephemera. Ephemera is essentially any sort of printed memorabilia – receipts, plane tickets, train tickets, beer bottle labels, unused currency, notes to yourself, your attempts at cross-cultural communication via pictionary, you name it. I throw it all in this book, and it turns all those little “useless” things into relics. The cover of this book was made by cutting a map into strips then weaving them together, held in place by packing tape.
8. I just love maps. Use them to make collages and such.
9. Write a review! Pass what you learned, experienced, and discovered on in a review. You’ll not only relive those memories as you write, but you’ll help someone else out on their adventure. www.tripadvisor.com
10. And if you’re really missing your trip, just buy a giant, antique German classroom map that you definitely didn’t need but who are you kidding you so did.