Travel at Home

Travel at Home Series: Part 1

Zegrahm Expeditions|April 22, 2020|Blog Post

There’s no doubt, these are challenging and unprecedented times. While our instincts are driven by our determination to get outside and make new discoveries, in a time when it is of the utmost importance that we stay put and practice social distancing, following those instincts simply isn’t possible.

So, we’re kicking off a new home-based style of Zegrahm exploration to satisfy your craving for adventure. As always, we are looking to our unmatched Zegrahm Expeditions team to learn how they are finding unique ways to revisit faraway destinations right in their own homes—whether it’s through photographs of past travels, a piece of art, a book, a recipe, or some other meaningful item, our expert expedition team has offered us a rare  look into their lives, their homes, their travels, and their memories. 

We hope that while you read, you are reminded of your own travels and relive some of your most remarkable travel moments!

Pepper Trail, Forensic Ornithologist

I have carried home my share of objects from around the world, and they bring back memories of the places they were made, and the faces of the makers. But the main ways I bring travel into my home are through the photographs I take and (yes, I'm one of THOSE) the bird lists that I compile.           

Two favorite artworks from my travels are a haunting spirit carving from the Asmat in New Guinea—its features engraved in red on the stark white coating—and a simple but expressive wooden river dolphin from the upper Amazon in Peru. Both return me to particular days spent in remarkable wild places.

And, in defense of my bird lists, they do the same thing. They are not bland numerical tabulations, but rather windows into my encounters with new species. To read “Saffron Toucan” on my list from Zegrahm's Coastal Brazil trip takes me back to the Gold Trail south of Rio de Janeiro, where this amazing bird and I sat and regarded each other for five quiet minutes. 

Kelsey Simmons, Director of Expedition Staff and Field Operations

I’m always looking to scoop up some item that transports me back to a moment in time that I don’t want to forget. My entire home is dotted with objects, big and small, from my trips all over the world and each of those things send me back to a special time and place.             

I have collected textiles, including rugs and beautiful pillow covers from both Marrakech and Istanbul. I have carved wooden objects from the Asmat in Indonesia, displayed with the unique headpieces that were gifted to me during our visit. I have a carved wooden bowl with inlaid mother of pearl and a clay pot used for cooking on open fire from the Solomon Islands. Woven baskets from Morocco and Turkey. A painting by an artist from the Tiwi Islands.

Kelsey's Romanian Bowl

Not only do these items remind me of a place that I have been to, but they remind me of who was there. Rich Pagen helped me barter for my Moroccan rug down a tiny alley amongst the giant tangle of alleys that make up Marrakech (the idea of bartering makes me sweat just thinking about it). The shop owner in Istanbul where I buy the most beautiful pillow covers remembers me each time I return. I have a photo with a street vendor in Tulca, Romania as he was selling me one of his carved bowls that now houses my coasters and TV remote. I think of him every time I look at it. It’s not always about the item itself, but rather the experience you had acquiring it and the nice people you met and supported along the way.  

Susan Langley, Maritime Archaeologist 

For myself, I have categories of shopping; markets for on-the-spot treats or edible commodities…and more tangible items that speak to me artistically or that I know will be useful. 

My two favorite art pieces include a carved boat full of figures from Senegal, and a panel of tiles painted with a copy of one of my favorite Turkish paintings that are impregnated with a phosphorescent mineral that glows in the dark.

Turkish Painting

I also gather food-related items. Since I love to cook and have a lot of friends who love to try foods from other lands, I bring home as many different spices as possible…and hold tastings for friends and organizations.

I bring these things home because they give me joy, both in seeing and holding them as well as in the memories they evoke of wonderful adventures.

Jack Stein Grove, Zegrahm Cofounder & Marine Biologist 

Journaling has always been an integral part of my travels. Although I started keeping a journal when I was in high school, it wasn't until I graduated from college and set off under sail to the Galapagos that my journals became biologically important. Of course, I also make entries of a personal nature, but over the past three decades, my annotations about natural history are most relevant. At the present moment, with more time at home than expected, I am enjoying the opportunity to review the journals. It has also been fun to highlight the places I have been in the geographical dictionary that has been sitting on my bookshelf since the advent of the Internet.     

Brad Climpson, Expedition Leader / Marine Biologist   

Gift to Locals       

I am not a massive collector, but I do love buying interesting things on my travels. Two main reasons for this are that I love to help the local economies where we travel and I like to give away the things I buy as presents. Giving away the gifts to friends and family helps include them in my travels and when I visit them I get to see those things again. It's like spreading out a collection of memories in different places.           

Throughout my travels, I have collected everything from carvings to jewelry to paintings to swords. I have given away most of these things, however, I do keep a ceremonial waist band that was given to me by a member of an Asmat tribe. It was a personal gift and as such I have kept it to honor our friendship.

Mike Murphy, Divemaster 

I take underwater video on my diving trips and share them with our diving guests and my family. Each time I am home, we have an evening for dinner and video clips of my trips. As each of my four family members are ardent divers, we have a lot of fun sharing stories and are always looking for a future dive trip where we can all go together.

I also have a bookcase in the living room where I have amassed a huge volume of the photo logs we receive with each trip. I have stopped taking photographs years ago, but the books are a great way to reminisce.

Jim Wilson, Ornithologist

Trinity Land Antarctic Peninsula

I bring home memories of amazing encounters with nature and culture, and I also take photos which help me sustain those memories when those brain cells stop working as well as they used to. Bringing my travels home is important as it reminds me of how lucky I have been to get to travel to great places with great people.

Music is also very important. When I go somewhere with great scenery, I pick an appropriate tune from my music library, stick on the headphones, find a quiet spot on the ship, and just meditate on the vista in front of me. When I go home, and I listen to that song, it brings me straight back to that place and time.         

Olga Stone, Classic Historian & Lecturer       

I always bring something from places I visit for the first time, and sometimes buy things on repeated visits as well. I have small things dotted around the house that remind me of interesting places I was lucky to visit.

As a musician, I try to buy (if possible) CDs from places that I visit, as music is like a time machine, allowing you to see places and people again. As a Classicist, I look for something that has Latin/Greek references, like the famous Latin warning on the cross in Iceland or the Crusaders’ graffiti in Jerusalem. As an Art Historian, I keep an eye on the architecture and paintings in various places and do a lot of photography that I use later in my professional lectures. Photos and videos give me a great visual record of the wonders of the world. I find it interesting to see photos from 20-30 years ago, how places changed, and how my view of them is changing as well.

Lex Hes, Expedition Leader, Naturalist & Wildlife Photographer


After I've visited a place a few times and I've come to understand a little of what makes a particular country tick or what is typical of that country, I try and look for an art object that reflects something of that. So, I have a toy Citroen taxi brousse from Madagascar, a model of a man riding a bicycle with a bag of charcoal on his back from Zambia, Herero women dolls dressed in traditional outfits from Namibia, a model of Mozambiquen refugees crossing a bridge with all of their belongings on their heads from Mozambique, and so on my bookshelves.         

I also love my travel photography and have built up a large collection of wildlife images over the years, some of which hang on the walls of our home. I think it is because we wildlife photographers have this belief that the best wildlife photograph has never yet been taken and our goal is to get it.

 Brent Stephenson, Expedition Leader & Ornithologist

People Brent Stephenson met

Although I am a keen photographer and have hundreds of thousands of photos, I have none of my images on the wall in our home. For the moment, the little knick-knacks and things I have picked up around the world are reminders of my travel, as is contact with the people I have shared these adventures with.

And like Pepper—we birders are strange bunch—we are often thinking about our travels when we see birds and other wildlife on a daily basis. When we see particular species, remembering the time we saw that bird or mammal for the first time on a trip.

I think as humans we are naturally hunters (hence the travel photography and bird lists) and collectors (knick-knacks and mementos). And one day, when I am past traveling, whether that be because of old age, changes in society, or I get to the point where I would prefer to stay home with family and friends, then I will have little physical and mental reminders of all the great times and wonderful people I have met.


We hope that this peek into the home lives of our leaders and experts have provided you with some insight into how you can keep your passion for pushing the boundaries of travel and exploration alive and burning. And we’re not done yet. Far from it. Our leaders and experts will continue to offer up their wisdom, know-how, and expertise on bringing travel into the home in part two and three of this blog series, as well as a host of digital learning experiences in our Armchair Explorations series. 

Stay tuned and stay safe!