How I Collected a Well-Traveled Home

My mom always jokes that I have wheels on my feet, that I can never stay put in one place. Come weekend, me and my then boyfriend (now husband) would leave home to catch the next bus to find a random holiday spot. On other times, my boss and I would set out on photo journeys documenting towns and it’s people. And every now and then I dragged my folks on family vacays, only to notice my dad’s equally infectious addiction for travel.

Like many others out there, I wished for a home full of travel delights. A story to tell and conversations to make around perfectly curated and a home reflective of world travel. Armenian pottery from Israel or mosaic Ottoman lamp from Turkey, my eyes searched for a unique world memory I could blend with the space and design of my home.

Travelling across the globe or hitch hiking to the next town close to you, these tips will help you create a space you dream of, and the one that narrates your experiences.

Searching Local Neighbourhood Markets

I often start with reading up about the place I am travelling to. My trips include long walking trails with stopovers at the local bazaars and flee markets. The chatterbox in me stirs up conversations with locals, finding my way to discovering antiques, locally made handicraft and home-grown spices. For me and my husband it is much about contributing to the local society than shopping for brands. In this way we are not only collecting for home but also spending time documenting stories and absorbing culture. This is truly a rewarding experience, and the one that stays longest with us.

Collecting Art

Gallery art is more often than not rather expensive. But most cities have bustling squares or artist fairs where you end up buying works of budding artists. The pieces they create are inspired by the city and typically meant for travellers to take away. Small water colour paintings of the yellow trams in Portugal or of crowded Time Square in NY are price-worthy finds. Once you have identified the cities key characteristics, it wont be hard to find art representing that. Art in the form of postcards are also precious finds. A few good tourist shops sell postcards of popular artist works. Black and white postcards from Spain of Flamenco dancers right now stand framed on my wall.

Finding the Region’s Speciality

Every city has a speciality and something that is unique from the region. Artisans and craftsmen have been known to produce high quality, culturally rich items that the region is particularly known for. Look and enquire about these finds early and remember to haggle if you choose to pick something up from touristy spots. Be prepared to carry a piece of history back with you that surely will make your home decor special. Armenian pottery from Israel or mosaic Ottoman lamp from Turkey, Wayang shadow puppets from Indonesia or simply Brooklyn vintage, all you need is to be curious.

A Sticky Souvenir

Not so expensive and easy to collect finds are the best way to bring back memories. Fridge magnets can never be too many. I have cultivated a habit to take back a magnet from every city I visit. It is an enjoyable process finding the magnet that you want to see on your fridge everyday. My other habit is to save theatre tickets, tram passes, museum entry stamps that I stick together with the magnets. You will be amazed when you find friends spending time inquisitively staring at your fridge.

Do any of you out there ‘travel to collect’? Or ‘collect as you travel’? Would love to hear tips and ideas. Do share.

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