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How to
start a creative travel collection

Written by A real life Worldette, 3 years ago, 14 Comments
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Embrace our artistic side next time you travel by starting a collection. Guest poster, Laura George, shows us how. 

I’d like to start by clarifying: this is not a post about snow globes and key chains.

This is a post about keeping vibrant memories of your travels through stunning items you can display in your home – without feeling kitschy.

A collection isn’t about getting a bunch of new stuff or being able to say, “I’ve bought a shot glass in every city I’ve ever visited.” Where’s the point in that? A collection is about preserving an adventure in your heart and reminding yourself on a regular basis of the way your spirit soared when you traveled.

Deciding on your collection

I’ve always had an interest in collecting. But nothing ever stuck. I tried collecting dolls, angels, those oversized pencils, silver charms, teddy bears, and hotel room key cards. I never kept up with a collection or felt connected to it because I never put any thought into what I was collecting. I just started with something I had a lot of and then added to it.

But a collection should start out of something that grabs hold of your soul. It must have meaning.

So how do you choose? Keep a list of your ideas to get them off your mind and free yourself up for more ideas! But once you come up with the right one, you’ll know.

Get creative

When I was studying in Italy, I realized suddenly that my love for art could pair with my souvenir money to actually start my art collection, despite being on a student budget.

Now I have original art from several different countries and even met most of the artists in person, since the affordable art is usually on the street.

You may start thinking about your list and come up blank. What has meaning for me?

Let me get you started. I have a friend who collects fabric swatches in all colors and sizes. I follow a blogger who collects rings. I’ve always been enamored of those beautiful wovens you can find women selling on the streets – small tapestries or blankets. I often buy patterned scarves as gifts for friends, but they would make equally lovely collections. Plus, they’d be wearable.Vases would make great decorative pieces and would surely be special and different at each locale.

Or you could make a habit of visiting a bookstore in each place you go, picking up a book in their language, and writing the city and date on the inside.

Even collect in a color scheme! Pick something that you’ll look at in five years and still find beautiful. Something you can use in your home (or wear on your body!) and show friends with excitement, not embarrassment.

Go ahead, start that list now. And when you find your collection, you’ll know it.

Getting your collection home

There’s one last thing that’s incredibly important about collecting during your travels – getting things home safely. How awful it is to get home after your trip and discover your brand new addition to your collection has broken (or ripped, squished, bent, strangely missing, etc.) and you’re left missing a destination! It’s important that you follow some basic rules.

* Firstly, anything breakable must go in your handbag or purse if you’re flying home. Wrap it in bubble wrap, or even dirty clothes from your suitcase, to protect it. Be very careful when you set your bag down anywhere. Don’t drop it, but gently place it. And check on the piece every few hours to be sure it’s still safely wrapped up.

* If you’re flying but your piece isn’t breakable (or is too large to fit in your purse), it should find it’s way into your hand luggage where you’re in control of how it’s handled. If it’s too big for your hand luggage strap it to the carryon bag securely. Most likely, no one will question this as long as it’s tight.

* Are you collecting something wearable? If it’s not really expensive (like fine jewelry), go ahead and wear it on the flight home. You can watch it best when it’s on your back, right?

* Make sure the piece never goes in your checked luggage.

* If you’re not flying, the same general rules apply. Protect the piece carefully and keep watch over it as you travel home.

Don’t forget to display your collection in your home (my art is scattered on walls throughout my home) or wear it frequently. The whole idea of the collection is to remember how wonderful each trip was, and you can’t remember if it’s hiding in a box under the bed.

Here’s to your next radiant collection!

xo, Laura

Do you have a collection from your travels? Has this article inspired you to collect? Let us know in the comments below!

 

About the author

Laura C George is a business coach for creatives. She teaches artists and makers of all kinds to improve their online presence in order to widen their reach and stop relying on galleries as their sole source of sales. On her off time, Laura makes intaglio etching prints, spends time with her darling puppy, and (like a true Worldette reader) she loves traveling to new places to soak in the breath of a different culture. You can find Laura on her website or on Pinterest.

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  1. AmyeeFebruary 9, 2012, 5:11 am

    We collect things we can hang on walls or table cloths we can use at home. We have drawings, paintings, fans, carpet, large pieces of cloth or tablecloth… in a way, we wanted our home to be a mini-world :)

    Great article Laura!

    Reply
    • Marie TeatherFebruary 9, 2012, 6:49 am

      I wish I had thought of this sooner – I’m kicking myself for all the places I have been and not collected something! I do have lots of magazines from various countries though and so maybe I can start there… Great post!

      Reply
  2. Nicky StokesFebruary 9, 2012, 7:14 am

    Nice one Laura… I got the idea from an air hostess friend of mine to start collecting the complimentary little bottles of shampoos, conditioners and soaps that hotels provide guests in their rooms. It comes over as quite a nice quirk with house guests if you keep them on display in the spare bathroom of your house. My hosty friend had it in hers and I loved rummaging through the collection to find matching product of my choice when I stayed over! It’s like living vicariously through luxury body products!

    I’ve started a collection of them now and also the travel kits you get on airplanes — witht he sleep masks and toothbrushes. I like that it’s not a ‘SERIOUS’ thing and just something fun and light hearted which also serves a purpose at home for unexpected overnight guests.

    Reply
    • Marie TeatherFebruary 9, 2012, 8:06 am

      That is such a cool idea! So you keep them in a pretty little basket – or whatever your style is – and they get to chose a fancy treat size shampoo of their liking. I love this idea!

      Reply
      • Nicky StokesFebruary 9, 2012, 10:29 am

        Exactly! The lodge I went to this past weekend had Dermalogica products for their guests. Needless to say I came home with a set for each night I spent there!

        Reply
        • Marie TeatherFebruary 10, 2012, 5:31 am

          Actually that reminds me – the Shangri La were very generous in their L’occitane products and had products to use for months! Not sure that’s really what a collection is about though… oops!

          Reply
          • Nicky StokesFebruary 10, 2012, 10:42 am

            Hee hee… we’re allowed to indulge too!

            Reply
  3. RachelFebruary 9, 2012, 8:14 am

    We recently started collecting fridge magnets! It sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s nice to be reminded of the places you’ve visited every time you open the fridge!

    Reply
    • Marie TeatherFebruary 9, 2012, 8:26 am

      I think being reminded of all the places you’ve been to on a daily basis is lovely. Especially as I open the fridge – it might make me think twice as I remember some of the pool / beach holidays I already had and will have more of!

      Reply
  4. FrancesFebruary 10, 2012, 5:05 am

    My family and I have been doing this too. We collect sea shells and sand from all the beaches that we go to (we’re all beach lovers in the family). We place them in empty glass bottles, put a name tag that says what beach they came from, and place them all over the house. It reminds us about the sand, surf, and sun.

    Reply
    • Marie TeatherFebruary 10, 2012, 5:33 am

      That’s a lovely idea – I really like the idea of taking something natural back and a bit of sand or a shell is no harm to the local environment.

      Reply
  5. Nicole O'NeillSeptember 16, 2013, 11:35 pm

    Obviously we have all traveled in some way, and so we all know that when we travel, buying something for the person/people you love is just a given. Since I started my international traveling in 2009, and my sister a year later, whichever country we go to, we always buy my mom a spoon from that country. She keeps them all in a “spoon bowl” in her kitchen and I was looking at them the other day – taking myself back to many beautiful memories, and I know my sister does the same.

    Reply
  6. HanaMarch 28, 2014, 8:39 am

    I love all these ideas!
    I had my own interesting idea. I don’t know if it’s even possible or worth it..
    What about collecting dirt/soil from each country? Just scoop up some and put it in a decorative little container.
    My worries are that it would be strange and too obvious to do. And does most of the soil look the same….?

    Reply

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