It's always nice to return home after a long trip, but it's also a sort of let down. With your vacation in the rear view mirror, all the planning and anticipation is over and real life begins again. And real life isn't nearly as much fun.
To keep our vacations going long after we return home, we've come up with a few ways to keep the memories alive and insert little reminders of our awesome travels into daily life.
Here are a few things we do that you might want to do, too. They're easy, inexpensive and lots of fun. Here we go!
1. Rocks and shells (or another little thing). No matter where we travel, we pick up a rock or shell to bring back with us. Lots of times this means we're picking up and putting back down, choosing and discarding until we find the perfect one. The cool thing about this tradition is that it slows us down, and helps us look around and really observe the places we're visiting.
Then, when we get home, we write the name of the place we visited and put the item in a bowl that sits on our kitchen table. In our case, we put a big candle in the middle of our travel centerpiece. Each of the items tells a story, and now, when we sit down to eat or just pass by, we can reach in, pick out a rock or shell and remember where we were when we chose it. Reminder! Some beaches or historic sites do not allow you to remove anything, so DO NOT take items from these places! Always respect signs or warnings, there are plenty of other places to pick your mementos.
2. Art. We love visiting local galleries or checking out street artists when we travel. What's really neat about local art is that most of the time you're actually buying it from the artist, so
you can learn about them and their pieces. When we were in Florence we came across a woman painting water colors in a piazza and they were adorable and beautiful! Just simple images of every day things. We loved three in particular and wanted them for our kitchen: a glass of red wine, a glass of white wine, and a chunk of cheese. Since we were buying three, we tried to make a deal - she was not having any of it, and we loved it! This artist knew the value of her work and we totally respected that, paid full price and walked away with these three cool water colors that hang in our kitchen.
There can be a downside to buying art on the road, however, and that is getting it home.
If you're buying un-framed art (and if you're traveling, that's probably what you're doing), make sure it will fit in your suitcase and that it's packed with stiff cardboard to keep it from bending or creasing. Sometimes, a little sculpture makes more sense if packing prints won't work. We bought this adorable little ceramic boat from an artist in Croatia who personalized the name on the side for us. It was wrapped in bubble wrap and between lots of socks and made it home in tact!
3. A taste of something local. There are so many amazing local specialties to try when traveling and we always enjoy bringing something home with us. Whether it's fig jam from Croatia or wine from France or olive oil from Italy, there's something awesome about drinking or eating an item you loved on vacation even when you're back home. Sometimes we order an entire case of wine and have it shipped home (like with the Madonna del Latte Pinot Nero on the left here), other times we just buy a few bottles and pack them in our suitcase. Make sure you don't put any liquids over 3 oz in your carry-on (or non-liquid items that can't be tested, like jellies). We tend to treat these items like something really special and ration them out rather than using them up as soon as we get home, but some places have websites that you can continue ordering from long after the first bottle (or jar) is gone (fortunately, Madonna del Latte is one of them!!).
4. Scents. When we were visiting the small town of Taormina in Sicily, it seemed like the entire town had a special smell. I couldn't tell you what it was, but I wanted to bring it home with me. We went into lots of stores and sniffed a lot of different perfumes and room sprays and candles, but we finally found it! Now, every time we spray that scent, it takes us back to the little cobblestone streets of Taormina and the words we recited overlooking the gorgeous blue of the sea (we were there for our four year anniversary and renewed our vows in Taormina, so the town has a special significance for us - more about that in another post). Another time, in Florence, Italy, we walked into a perfume store and picked out a local scent that is just amazing. In addition to buying perfume, we walked out with a candle. Every time we light the candle it fills our home with a scent that reminds us of Florence, and that's a pretty awesome way to get back to Italy without leaving the comforts of our couch.
5. Christmas ornaments. Sure, you have to celebrate the holiday for this one, but we love to buy an ornament whenever we visit a new place. We always write the date and name of the location somewhere on the ornament to remind us where and when we got it.
Then, when we're decorating the tree, we reminisce about our trip and all the things we did, and they are forever captured among the twinkle of tree lights.
Don't celebrate Christmas? How about creating your own tradition - collect mementos to take out on New Year's Eve to ring in a year by looking back at your travels, or buy yourself a birthday gift while traveling and wrap it until the big day arrives, that way you'll bring back a favorite memory on your big day.
6. Music. It's amazing how a song can take you back to the exact moment you heard it. This is why, whenever we travel, we bring our Bose Soundlink portable bluetooth speaker with us. There are lots of times when we're just hanging out with a bottle of wine on a terrace or in our room, and we want a little background music. It's also a great way to listen to local music that will forever bring back memories of our travels. Whether we are in a bar or watching a street performer, we try to find the song we're hearing and add it to a Spotify playlist we create.
Most often, we've never heard the song and it's in a different language, so we are big fans of Soundhound to figure out what we're listening to (we both have the app on our phone). Other times, like at this apres ski bar in St. Anton, Austria, we know the song but it takes on an entirely new meaning because of the experience. When we're home, those playlists instantly transport us back to that moment and that place. In St. Anton, Austria we loved all of the apres ski songs that everyone seemed to know and sing together.
We created "The Ultimate Austria Apres Ski" playlist on Spotify and now have so much fun playing the songs and singing along - sometimes in German. We have no idea what we're saying but it's a blast to sing them and remember. Listen for yourself (this is in English)... and wait for the entire crowd to join in... it's impossible not to want to sing along! Have Spotify? You can listen to our Ultimate Apres Ski playlist here.
There you go! Six different ways to continue your vacation at home while you dream about and plan your next trip!
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