Turning Any Trip Into An Interior Decorating Destination!
Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt Heading out of town for a long weekend, or maybe you have a business trip abroad? Whether it is a roadtrip to Charleston, a romantic getaway to Europe, or even a camping adventure in North Georgia, there are always opportunities to collect treasures and mementos from your travels. Here you will find quick tips and easy ideas for bringing back something memorable from even the most mundane of destinations. First take a look at your itinerary, any pockets of time at leisure? It doesn’t have to be more than an hour or so to make it worth finding out a local specialty and locating a source. Okay, so you’ve rolled your eyes, groaned and said it is all business, no leisure at all. Believe it or not, you can even get novel items these days in the airport boutiques, and I don’t mean T-shirts or ball caps. (Of course, being a captive consumer at the terminal shops, you will pay more, chalk it up to part of the experience!) Many airports are becoming regular shopping meccas for the traveler short on time.
Look for specialty retailers showcasing locally made goods, whether it is a special jam or hot sauce, or a postcard made in copper (a regional mineral of wealth), favorite chocolates (I used to buy See’s, only available on the West Coast and in Hawaii.) For a true collectible try a snow globe specific to that city, or even a refrigerator magnet particular to the same. This can be a fun way to keep track of where you’ve been despite the jet lag and travel snafus. Now, if you do have a bit of time to yourself or maybe this is a weekend of playing hooky from the rest of the world, you’ll have ample opportunities to seek out local flavor. If staying in a larger hotel, always avail yourself of the concierge, they most often know the places to go, what to buy, what to pay, and other useful tidbits.
(I once did an entire 30 day overseas trip with just air and hotel, and relied entirely on the concierge to plan my daily itinerary, it was personal and perfect!) Better yet, if you are staying in a bed and breakfast or other homestyle accommodation, the owners or managers will be able to provide this information too. In some cases, these places will sell decorative elements from the rooms. Of course, many hotels do offer lines of product with their logo and such, if it has been a truly special stay, this may be all you need or want. I’ve been to some, such as the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, that offered holiday ornaments featuring their property. I collect these so this was an ideal memento of my visit. I do know some who collect ashtrays and towels and have been known to rely on “borrowing” these from rooms and bars. Most embarrassing when one is caught, (a fellow traveler was recently!) Stick to items you can buy. Besides where would you display a large collection of ashtrays and hotel towels?? If determined to have it for free, consider limiting yourself to matchbooks, and the wine cork from dinner. The most important part about anything bought along the way is the story attached to it. So always try to record, at the minimum, where you purchased, the date, and what you paid.
More interesting, of course, is who you were with and what was the occasion. What inspired you to pick up this treasure? You might be surprised to learn how fascinating goods can become once you know their history. It is much like antiquing, the value comes in knowing the provenance of the piece. These stories will be lost if you don’t take care to write them down and protect them, however insignificant you think they may sound, someone later may be endeared by it. (I still regret no knowing the stories behind many of the cherished elements I inherited some fifteen years ago, when my mother died suddenly. While certainly she had shared the tales while we were growing up, like most children, especially teenagers, I didn’t pay attention, not realizing, I wouldn’t get a chance to ask again. And, she had great stories!) It is always more interesting and personal to be able to incorporate your own trips and adventures in your interior than merely fill it with a lot of meaningless but pretty decorative elements. I often work with clients in displaying collections they have created and mementos they have saved. Those who do not have as many, I encourage to seek out what means something them, and I also take care to bring them elements that speak to their interests and preferences, sometimes their hopes and dreams. We all reflect what we surround ourselves with, it is up to us to make sure it inspires and makes us smile.