Around The World in Travel Mementos

Around The World in Travel Mementos

Sometimes the best way to explore the world is simply through collecting knick-knacks. To this day, there are several items friends have gifted me or that I have brought back home that capture memories of a world away. Those have the most sentimental value, keep me inspired, and put a smile on my face. Below, mementos that line my bedroom walls from places near and far:

Above:  ceramic mug  &  berry necklace  from Project Bly, mini Dutch clogs (gifted), Indonesian scarf (gifted), elephant buddha, lotus statue, and postcard set from  Firefly  in Abbott Kinney (Venica, CA), and a  Scratch Map

Above: ceramic mug & berry necklace from Project Bly, mini Dutch clogs (gifted), Indonesian scarf (gifted), elephant buddha, lotus statue, and postcard set from Firefly in Abbott Kinney (Venica, CA), and a Scratch Map

Recently, I read the story of Nellie Bly, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe solo in 1889. Her career as an investigative journalist along with her bravery, independence, and wit immediately resonated with me and spawned a cult following within (checkout’s celebration of Nellie Bly for more info). As a fellow solo female traveler, I desired to have the same guts and glory that Nellie was able to achieve as a young woman. Luckily, I found a site called Project Bly which has enabled me to carry a piece of Nellie Bly around with me every day. 

It is with Nellie’s spirit that we at Bly set off on our own journey. Dedicated to marrying travel with design, we shop the world’s markets—from Bombay to Bukhara, and everywhere in between—curating collections of interesting objects, textiles, art and jewelry.
— Project Bly

Inspired by some of my favorite cities I have yet to visit, I bought a mug from Oaxaca, Mexico and a necklace from Mumbai, India. Now, drinking coffee and wearing jewelry has a whole new meaning for me.

In 2010 when I moved to New York City, I found myself without a job and too much time on my hands. I began documenting all my city explorations on my personal blog, but wanted to do more. A friend recommended I become a volunteer with Big Apple Greeter, a non-profit that matches visiting tourists with local New Yorkers for friendly neighborhood walks. One of my first walks was with a Dutch couple who requested a walk through the West Village and Brooklyn. One of the coolest parts about BAG is that you (the local) get to create any itinerary you want, and chances are, the tourists are more than happy to follow along. This couple came out in the middle of a January weekend with their heart set on seeing the Village and the Brooklyn Bridge so I delivered just that with a few added routes along Prospect Park just for fun. By the end of the day we were so exhausted and cold but so full of joy, it was hard to say goodbye. As a kind thank you, the couple gifted me a set of Dutch clogs, which now sit in front of my window, greeting me every day when I wake up and fall asleep. It’s that generosity that fuels my passion for showing people around the city I love.

Receiving gifts from around the world is always exciting. Several years back I was asked to dog sit for some friends who were off to Bali for a wedding. Despite some serious challenges in dog sitting, as a first time newbie to that responsibility, my friends returned grateful at my favor with a gift in hand: a hand-made scarf from Indonesia. A small gesture that I wear when I want to feel extra special these days.

I’m not someone who shops for souvenirs when on the road but there are rare occasions in which I like to spoil myself with a piece of memorabilia from the destination I’m visiting. With a love for Indian culture, I just couldn’t stop myself from stopping in a Venice, California shop called Firefly located in the uber charming street of Abbott Kinney. Here, I found a lotus flower dish and elephant buddha statue that immediately caught my attention.

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions.

Discovering this Buddhist meaning, it’s no wonder that they rest at my desk, reminding me to stay positive no matter what I go through. This is also where my stack of postcards live that I still use to this day to send notes to friends all over the world.

Returning home from each new journey is always bitter-sweet but one of the activities I always look forward to is marking my scratch map. Here I get giddy scratching off a new spot off the globe, checking it off my ever-growing to do list. Though I have a long way to go til the entire map is left copper red, it’s always a wonderful feeling to know I’ve made a dent in the world by traveling. 

Mementos like these are what keep me going, what fill me with pure happiness and remind me why I love to travel. 

Do you have a room filled with travel mementos? Share your story with me in the comments!

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