Buying small treasures for your home is a wonderful way to remember a holiday abroad. Travel finds are often what we admire the most in our friends’ homes. It’s easy to end up regretting the purchase after returning home though, especially if it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the decor. Decorating with travel finds requires some planning. Here are some tips to prepare to shop on your next trip abroad, so you’ll never regret a purchase again.
Planning your shopping is just as important as the trip itinerary and accommodations. Start by researching whether the country or area you’re visiting is known for any particular type of art, textile, or other home decor. Is there anything that would be useful for your home? For example, the magical city of Marrakech in Morocco is world-renowned for their handmade rugs, lanterns, wall hangers, and clay pottery. Depending upon your circumstances, you could even “reverse engineer” your plans and choose the destination based on what you need for your home.
Once your research is completed and you know what you might find in the area/country you are visiting, it’s time to prepare at a more practical level.
- Measurements: Make sure to take measurements in advance, if needed. Coming home with a rug that’s too small or too big for your living room can derail the best laid decorating plans.
- Colors: Carry samples with you if you’re searching for specific colors. Even better, if you have a purse or shirt in that perfect burgundy color you want your next set of dining plates to have, then take it on your trip.
- Pictures: It may seem unnecessary, but take current photos of your home. We all know how our homes look like, but when we are in shopping-action, we often end up doubting whether that rose-colored pillow at the market would coordinate with the color in our living room. A photograph makes it easier to decide.
A poster might be the easiest thing to purchase abroad. Skip the cliché posters in random poster and souvenir shops though and opt for something a bit classier than college dorm decor.
Try this: Look for coffee table books with large images and cut them out (after you’ve bought the book, obviously) and frame them for your walls. There are lots of books to be found at markets, little antique shops, classic bookstores, and even at hotels. Whether you are into flowers, photography, movie stars, or landscapes, you can probably find a book on the subject. While we’re at it, let’s be honest; all of those coffee table books look nice on the bookshelf, but how often do you read them? A missing page or two won’t make any difference.
Postcards and maps
These are very cost-effective ways of decorating, especially for kids’ rooms. Let your children chose their own postcards during the trip. After you return home, have them arrange their chosen postcards into collages for their room. If you fancy colors, then metro maps can also look good in a frame.
Classic interior pieces
A great travel find doesn’t necessarily need to be yelling “Costa Brava” or “Paris”. Classic interior pieces, like vases or candles, are brilliant things to purchase abroad because you’ll look at them daily and appreciate them. A Portuguese tile that you keep on your desk to use as a coaster for your coffee mug will give you a daily reminder of that trip. The important thing is that you remember that specific holiday when looking at it.
For the bookish traveler, there’s nothing better than to browse local bookstores in search of your next read. Adding a little note on the first page about where you purchased it, along with the date, just makes it more special in the future.
Textiles might be one of the most popular things to bring home these years. Who doesn’t know someone who bought an amazing rug in Marrakech or a nice towel in Turkey? And who doesn’t envy them for having this touch of uniqueness in their homes? Well, next time it’s you!
Choosing the right colors might be tricky though. Bring a photo of your home along, so you can better make the right choice. Take your time! Don’t buy the first thing you see until you’ve seen other options. This may require solo shopping trips, if it’s possible. If you must take your family or fellow travelers along, ask for their patience or park them with ice creams at the nearest café, if necessary.
General interior design tips when shopping abroad
- Use alternative ways to decorate, such as framed pictures from books or transportation maps.
- If you’re looking for something for a special area of your home, take a photograph of that area and bring it with you. It will make it easier when abroad to evaluate whether the piece you’re looking at would go well or not.
- Visit markets and vintage shops to find unique interior design.
- Make a list of the things you want at home in advance of your trip and be patient! If you need new pillows for your living room, then wait to find them next time you travel, instead of rushing down to ZARA Home.
- Ask for shipping options if you are abroad. It will often be cheaper than adding more weight to the flight and many vendors are prepared for international shipping.
Traveling up the Costa Brava? Cadaqués makes for a great stop (or overnight).