Welcome to the final blog in Zegrahm’s Travel at Home series. By now, you’ve surely identified a “travel collector twin” among our leaders and have learned new ways to bring travel into your homes in the future.
We can’t wait until the day when the Zegrahm family can set-off together yet again to explore remote shores, wander down ancient streets, marvel at natural wonders, experience new cultures, swim among vibrant, tropical fish, taste exotic new flavors, hear the roar of a lion in the wild, and spot rare and endemic birds in the forest.
Until that time, join your expert expedition team one last time as we travel at home!
Shirley Campbell, Social Anthropologist
Despite thinking that I am not much of a shopper, when I look around my house I see evidence of my “shopping” habit. I like to think of it more as “collecting;” the odd carving, basket, fabric, and sculpture. When I am “on the road,” I keep an eye out for the unique, something that I know represents the cultural context of the people, linking their past with their present.
I have masks from the Sepik; Malanggan from New Ireland; baskets from Micronesia, Tonga, Mozambique, and South Africa; ceramics from Zanzibar and Vietnam; a tree fern sculpture from Vanuatu in my garden; and a carved turtle collection from all over.
I enjoy collecting things that are connected to what people did in the past. Searching for these signature “artifacts” means that I do not bring a lot home with me. But when I do find that special item, I make every effort to get it home. Having these special gifts in my home gives me many "aha" moments every day.
Merel Dalebout, Naturalist
I started keeping a travel journal when I first started traveling in my late teens and never stopped. These travel journals include writings, various bits and bobs that I pick up (e.g. tea labels, map fragments, beer labels), quotations from whatever book I am reading at the time, and sometimes a selection of dodgy pen and ink sketches. I so enjoy taking the time during my travels to find a quiet moment to sit and write and perhaps draw, to reflect on my feelings and thoughts and experiences. It is in that process of reflection, which for me often takes the form of journaling, that I feel I get so much more out of the incredible travel experiences I am lucky enough to have.
Amber Medkiff, Travel Director
My home is a memory lane of my travels. Just about all the things that surround me come with a memory and an emotional connection. Being surrounded by a curated collection of my travels has created a peaceful, relaxing environment that helps me keep the fire going for my next adventure. There is not a room in our home that does not have something that I have brought home from a trip.
My highlights usually involve the great collection of Buddhas and prayer beads that I have collected. I make it a point to try and have each one blessed by a Buddhist monk prior to bringing them home. They create an air of safety, peacefulness, and calm to get me through every day. I have a terra cotta warrior from Xian that guards our house. A sculpture of Quan Yin from Japan protects our garden. I love books and have a huge collection from my travels—everything from The Maharajahs Jewels of India to the best wines and olive oils of India. I treasure everything I have from my travels—they bring me so much joy!
Annette Kühlem, Archaeologist
My entire apartment is full of objects that I brought home from my travels. I can't look anywhere without seeing something that reminds me of the wonderful places I've visited and worked. Apart from the objects, it’s the memories about the people who I interacted with that I bring home with me. This is especially true for the many carvings that my friends and coworkers from Easter Island and the Marquesas have made for me over the years. Not only are they beautiful and unique pieces of art, but it’s their meaning and the expressions of friendships that they hold that make them important to me.
Apart from carvings, there is a beautiful tradition in Polynesia that is gifting shell necklaces when a person leaves an island. It’s flowers to welcome you and it’s shells to bid you farewell. I have saved all those shell necklaces, because they are more than a parting gift—they are a promise to return.
Mark Brazil, Ornithologist
I rarely buy stuff, preferring to bring back samples of local foods that travel easily and pack small without adding too much to the weight of my luggage. Recent purchases abroad have included a jar of a favorite jam (diddle-dee from the Falklands), pickle or chutney (lime and mango from Sri Lanka and India), local teas and coffees (from Finland and Colombia). When I travel to new places, I often take furoshiki with me as gifts. These beautifully patterned Japanese wrapping cloths pack light, and take up less space than a T-shirt and can be used in so many different ways. Not only do they make great gifts, but they make great contact points with local guides, specialists, lodge owners and so-on—bringing a little of my home to theirs.
Ron Wixman, Cultural Geographer
When I was 17, my partner Steve and I were considered the two best male Balkan folk dancers in the US and Canada. As such, we were invited by the leader of the Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble (Filip Koutev Ensemble), so we went to Bulgaria, where we fell further in love with Balkan folk dance, costumes, and culture. For about 10 years we spent our summers in various countries and collected costumes, folk music, dances, etc. Steve and I became well known throughout the US and Canada (as Ronnie and Steve) in the 1960s and early 70s as we travelled back and forth to Eastern Europe and brought back dances and taught them. Ever since then I have collected costumes from various places to which I travel. I had 70 Macedonian, 40 Romanian, 25 Croatian, 12 Albanian, and a variety of other costumes, of museum quality. Since then I have donated my museum quality costumes.
In addition to this, my hobby is embroidering authentic Romanian and Macedonian blouses and chemises. Among the costumes to be on display at the Mary Hill Museum are a number of those that I have embroidered. A Romanian and a Macedonian ethnographer who saw the costumes that I embroidered told me that they are among the finest of their types. I am now embroidering a West Ukrainian chemise. My main activity to keep my sanity on long flights is to embroider.
When I travel with Zegrahm, I look for beautiful embroidered costumes in places like Vietnam, India, and Turkey, and kaftans from Uzbekistan. My home is like walking through a museum— everything on the walls and floors reminds me of my trips.
Terence Christian, Archaeologist
I am an obsessive collector of books. Old, new, hard cover, soft cover, pamphlet, it doesn't matter. To me, reading the written word is to view the world through the eyes of a local—to experience their home as they see it or to see it the way they want the outside world to see it. Reading printed material from around the world reminds me of past travel and makes me daydream of travel to come. Some of my favorite books are in languages I do not understand; looking at the photographs and illustrations while trying to understand the text word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, and page-by-page brings me closer to the people of the past and the present who sought to preserve and to educate about their unique culture. Locally published books both simultaneously shrink and expand the vast world we all share.
Amanda Charland, Archaeologist
I love buying yarn and knitting books from all the different places that I travel to! I am an avid knitter, and love the different colors (both natural and dyed) and textures from the different breeds of sheep found all over this lovely planet of ours. The books contain amazing patterns that reflect individual cultural styles and techniques.
My latest project is a sweater (or jumper for those from the UK). This wrap sweater is made out of Manx Loghtan wool which is pure, undyed wool produced from the flock at the village of Cregneash, Isle of Man. The books come from Lerwick and Fair Isle, Shetland in Scotland.
There is something very satisfying about turning a single string of yarn into a piece of fabric that I can wear. The garments that I knit act as wearable souvenirs that I can bring with me on my future travels to keep me warm and cozy!
Lynne Greig, Cruise Director
I love shopping and have been collecting things on my travels for 25 years! My house looks more like a museum than a home with all my artifacts. My mantra has always been, “If you see something you like, get it!” You will regret it if you don’t and may never have the opportunity again.
I have carvings, rugs, runners, and pillowcases all over the house. I have textiles, rugs, and baskets from all over the world; Vietnamese embroidery which looks like a painting; earrings from every country I have ever visited; masks, shields, carvings from Papua New Guinea, Africa, and the Asmat; drums from the Sepik River; carved polar bears and dog teams from the Arctic; a reindeer parka worn by the Koryak people of Kamchatka; and wire baskets from Africa. My glass ball collection, old fishing floats from Japan, fill two huge baskets and the larger ones sit outside on my deck.
It doesn’t matter how big or small the piece was, I somehow managed to get it home—from a huge Asmat shield to a 12-foot wooden giraffe, to mother of pearl wooden tables.
Every room in my house reminds me of one of my adventures!
Matthew Whyte, Art Historian
Wherever I travel to, I always make sure to bring home some of the local cuisine. Whether it is a cured meat, a jar of specialist honey, a locally-produced beverage, or an oil, I always try to experiment with what I have discovered once I return home. I am not a person who takes a lot of pictures, so I try to bring some of the culture I have experienced home with me. This almost always involves food.
Food is friendship, community, art, music, science, magic, all on a plate! You can travel the world in your kitchen. You can revisit your favorite places and get a taste for something new. We all suddenly find ourselves with so much free time. Even for those of us working from home, we are suddenly in our house for hours at a time—use this to try new things! Suddenly that perfect ragù alla Bolognese which takes eight hours to slowly simmer is not an impossibility! Carefully kneading dough and searing flatbreads over a barbecue to create the perfect Turkish kebab is a most attractive way to pass an evening. Ditch the scrambled eggs and whip up some huevos rancheros or a Spanish tortilla. Food has the amazing ability to trigger memory and release serotonin—we can reap the benefits of travel from our plates!
We hope you enjoyed this three-part series on how our expert expedition team brings travel into their homes. We also hope it has evoked memories of your many globe-trotting adventures and has inspired you to travel again when that time comes.
If you haven’t yet done so, please tell us what you collect throughout your travels. Just email us a brief summary of what you collect, why you collect it, and photo if you like, to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “My travel souvenirs” in the subject line.