Picture of Rich Pagen's porcelain koi chopstick stands from Japan

Travel at Home Series: Part 2

Zegrahm Expeditions|May 26, 2020|Blog Post

Related Blog Posts

We hope you enjoyed reading part one of our Travel at Home series and learning how Zegrahm’s intrepid expedition team is “traveling” during these unprecedented times. As fellow explorers, like-minded adventurers, and lifelong learners, we know that many of you bring travel into your own homes in similar ways. 

Please enjoy another candid tour of our leaders’ mementoes and memories. We hope they will make you smile, reflect on your own travels, and perhaps offer some inspiration to dream and plan for the future.

Rich Pagen, Conservation Biologist  

Picture of Rich Pagen in traditional African clothing

Travel is, in my home, less by way of physical things I have collected on my travels, but more through the collection of memories in my head, especially of the people I've shared the adventures with. With that said, a quick glance around my apartment reveals field guides to tropical marine fishes; an old yellow float that certainly at one time was connected to a lobster pot off of Massachusetts, which I found on a remote Cape Cod beach; and a pair of porcelain koi chopstick stands from Japan. Even those of us who claim to not shop or collect sometimes accumulate some very nice memory aids along the way.

More and more these memory aids become important, as our list of places we’ve visited becomes longer and longer, and at times the details of the trips blend together. A quick look in my closet reveals some items that fit that description perfectly, as they are not necessarily clothing items I wear with any frequency, but they make me smile nonetheless: a matching bright blue West African shirt and pants set; a men's kimono from a shop in Otaru, Japan; a pair of faux leather sandals I procured at the central market in Douala (Cameroon) when my luggage didn’t make the flight and took a week to arrive.       

I let my experiences take me…and end up with objects that bring me back to places I've been and the people I was with.

Lisa Wurzrainer, Cruise Director      

Picture of Lisa Wurzrainer travel postcards wall

I think it is important to bring my travels home to my family so they understand where I am going and why I am leaving. So, for many, many years now, I have sent a post card—usually just one per trip—home to my family. I always arrive back home long before the post cards, but we still look forward to their arrival (sometimes MONTHS later!). This then prompts my family to ask questions about my travels and indirectly teaches them more about the world. I have all of these post cards up on a bulletin board in my home office where I get to enjoy them every day!

Stephen Fisher, Historian     

My wife and I are lucky to have lived in a few different countries and traveled through dozens. Bits of our lives lay all around the house—a large traditional Japanese table sits on top of a Moroccan rug in the lounge and my desk is made from a Japanese tatami reed mat. Our shelves are piled with a mix of gifts, decorations, and mementos from places we’ve traveled and even our wardrobes contain items we’ve picked up over the years.

When I’m preparing for a trip or restless for a holiday, I travel in a different way—planning from my desk and exploring with Google Maps. It’s not any substitute for the real thing, but it whets my appetite and gives me good ideas when I do get out on the road.

I take too many photos and do too little with them when I get home, but occasionally I’ll look through them on my computer. Zegrahm trips are excellent though, because the photo log is not only a great souvenir, it’s also a good way to share the trip with my friends. 

John “L J” Yersin, Expedition Leader

Picture of LJ's water buffalo carving

I bring home artifacts that remind me of where I have been and the people I have met. I love it when I go to places I know and even more so to places that are new to me. Sulawasi, is a superb island. I remember traveling to Torajaland and when we stopped in a village, I noticed a carver just starting on a flat piece of wood. Through our interpreter, he told me what it was going to be—water buffalo with Torajaland houses and forest. I said that I would buy it…and he said that it would be ready in about three weeks.  Two weeks later it was finished and looked fantastic, I handed the money over and went to take the carving, but he grabbed it back and cut his name into the back of it.

Bob Quaccia, Biologist          

On every trip, I write a travel journal. I enjoy going back and revisiting experiences and remembering who I had them with. Since this is expedition travel and weather conditions are unpredictable, we sometimes find ourselves doing Plan B. The travel journal records the skill of our leaders to find amazing alternatives that can be quite memorable!

I also take pictures on the trips but some of my favorite ones have been generously shared with me by our skilled guests. I have these running on my laptop as my screen saver. I can't tell you how many times I've sat staring at these memories!

Nadia Eckhardt, Expedition Leader   Picture of Nadia Eckhardt's travel souvenir, a West African carving

Over the last decade, I have tucked under my arm and hand carried home from West Africa some fabulous wood carvings, mostly masks, some musical instruments, lots of beaded items of all shapes and sizes, and handwoven baskets. I love going to new countries and finding something unique to add to my collection!         

I used to love taking photographs until I realized I am not a great photographer, so I decided to focus on purchasing unique souvenirs that have a story or memory attached. Every mask in my home, mainly from West Africa, has a history and a story. I make a point of trying to purchase from the wood carver directly. After gorilla trekking a few years ago in Rwanda and then Uganda, half way through our hike (before we even got to the gorillas), one of the guides opened his backpack filled with carvings and he said, “This is what my brother does to make a living.” Once we got down the mountain, we all piled into the little shop and all bought carved wooden gorillas. 

My many big and small trinkets are like photographs to me. I remember the wonderful experiences and many voyages with my colleagues and smile thinking back of when, where, and who I purchased each item from.

Tese Wintz Neighbor, Expedition Leader     

When I was in my 20s, I kept my trips alive by writing in travel journals and taking a zillions slides. I occasionally wrote some travel articles or photo stories that were published in different magazines or newspapers. Now that I am in my 60s, I try to write haikus every day (shorter than journaling entries). I still take a zillions photos. Although it is very time consuming I like to put together my photos and haikus. I love the creative process—and the end product as a way to keep the trip alive. 

T.H. Baughman, Historian     

My favorite souvenirs to bring home are tea towels and carry bags. Every time I use the carry bag from Ushuaia, I remember how wonderful it is that Ushuaia went cold turkey on plastic bags several years ago.

Through the years, I have bought many DVDs and CDs. I listen to music on car trips; the DVDs I almost never watched until this current crisis—and I am watching them now. I am also re-watching the DVDs from trips that are included in the Zegrahm photo logs. The best way for me to bring something from my travels is to chat with one of my colleagues on the phone, or occasionally over dinner.

Rich Jacoby, Marine

Picture of Paella by Richard Jacoby

When I travel, I like to visit hardware stores and grocery stores; these are the stores that serve the daily needs of a community, and tell a great deal about a place and the people that live there. Local foods, spices, snacks, chocolates, or drinks are great “souvenirs” to bring home and share with friends and family. The smells and tastes of a faraway place are a powerful way to bring you back there.    

Our family trip to Spain germinated from a late-night craving for paella. In Seville, we wandered into an ancient ferreteria (a hardware store, not a ferret shop) where we found paella pans, ranging from single servings, to monsters six-feet across. Clanking through train stations and airports with a pair of paella pans was a pain in the neck, but a good paella is a fantastic anchor for a tapas party with friends. I could have bought a paella pan online when I got home, but what’s the fun in that? 

Madalena Patacho, Marine Biologist           

Looking around my apartment I can find little details that can take me from Antarctica to the Arctic and from America to Asia. Arts and crafts that take me back to incredible places we visit and the amazing people we meet.

I see a wall full of photos; some CDs from Iceland; a placemat with Newfoundland sayings and one with penguins; an Aldabra mug; some wooden figures from Principe; a table cloth from Bolivia; and two small ceramic plates from Vietnam. But the real treasures are in my kitchen. My fridge always has chocolate and drinks from many places.

Something I love to do when traveling is to get into a grocery store or a supermarket and see what is there. I have spices and flavors from many places. My latest addition was vanilla from the Seychelles. I don't go specifically looking for souvenirs…But if there is something small, something tasty, or exquisite that will bring me back to the moment, it will go home with me.


What do you collect during your travels? We’d love to hear what you collect and why! Please send a brief summary, and photo if you like, to info@zegrahm.com, with “My travel souvenirs” in the subject line.