Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest post: Catherine's Souvenir Guide

Today's guest post is from Catherine at Forty Twenty Four, a fabulous blog about home-building and ownership, pet raising and travel! Catherine gets to do a lot of work travel in addition to trips with her husband Micah, and they always come back with fabulous things! I asked Catherine to share some tips on souvenir buying.


Hi Everyone (I’m waving), I’m really excited that Katie asked me to guest blog while she’s off traveling. I’m super jealous of her summer in Italy and can’t wait to read about her adventures.

Speaking of traveling, let’s take about one of my favorite traveling activities, shopping. Shopping while traveling can be complicated, well, for me anyway. You want to buy all the great local finds, things you can’t find at home but you don’t want to buy so much that you can’t get it all in your suitcase. You also don’t want to end up being that person with a bunch of random beautiful pieces with no place in your home.

When I was younger, I bought everything I liked. I traveled a lot and wanted to bring back everything. I brought home HUGE sombreros from Mexico, a million matroshka dolls from Russia and bags of ceramic vases from Italy. Somewhere all these things live at my parents’ house. When I finally stopped moving from place to place, I realized I needed to come up with a system. My husband hates clutter and is actually pretty particular about d├ęcor. I knew that I needed to be purposeful about how I shopped when I travel particularly since I was now traveling a lot for work.

We decided to come up with some rules:

1. When we’re traveling together, our purchase of choice is a Christmas ornament. They are easy to carry, are affordable and can be as simple or ornate as you want. We love the ones we have and seeing them at Christmas makes the holiday all the more exciting. Here are a couple of our more recent purchases.

The glass bulb is from Venice. We looked at hundreds before we settled on this one. The two ceramic ornaments are from Bisbee, Arizona. They just represented the vibe of the town so well.

2. If it’s not an ornament, it has to be purchased with a purpose in mind. No more sombreros, no more random vases. I knew we needed something significant on the wall when you entered our apartment so I knew I this blessing from Ethiopia would be perfect. I could see exactly where it would hang when I purchased it. It’s a great conversation starter too.

3. Sometime even you need a little something. For my husband, it’s hats. For me? Jewelry of course.

The turquoise necklace is from Arizona. I loved it as soon as I saw it. The glass bubble necklace is from Venice. My husband let me pick it out for my 30th birthday.

4. Always travel with a list. We keep a list of presents we will need to buy over the course of the year. It’s a great way to get your Christmas and birthday shopping out of the way and help out a local business owner.

I had a bunch of these name plates made for the various kids in our lives while in Tanzania. The style of painting is from Tanzania and called Tinga Tinga. We've already given three out and so far they have been a big hit.

The system isn't perfect. I sometimes still come home with way too much fabric from Africa than I need, but that doesn't happen as often. I think the best part of being more selective about what we buy is that the item we take home becomes that much more special. I can look at all the items in our home and remember exactly where they came from and who I was with when the item was purchased. I love that.

And by the way, we still have a few matroshkas scattered throughout house. I couldn't leave them all behind.

I hoped our approach to souvenir shopping is useful to someone out there. Anyone else purchase a particular item when traveling like magnets, wall hangings or ornaments when they travel?


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