I travel a lot for work and fun, and shopping while abroad is one of my favorite things to do. With all the idiosyncratic treasures out there to be had, and the thrill of the hunt, bargain, and score, I prefer shopping in foreign locales. Plus, the items I bring home evoke fond memories every time I use them. Here are the five souvenirs I always bring home in my suitcase.
1. Edible Items
I love tea and the magic of tea salons all over the world, so whenever I go somewhere, I seek out these hideaways. Tea is lightweight, makes a great gift, and instantly transports you back to that faraway place you purchased it in. I once bought 20 bricks of high-quality Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, and while the situation with airport security was interesting, I delighted in my rich brew for months because of my haul. Jams and honeys are also great options — just make sure to buy the small jars for easy carry-on.
Coated enamel trays are a great thing to be on the lookout for. Here I have a peachy-colored one with a giant magnolia painted on the center. Because they're metal, they are easy to stuff in the back of a suitcase or backpack. I use mine every day for snacking in bed, and they make a nice catch-all at a party.
3. Festive Tea Cups
Tea cups are small enough to schlep all over and then pack safely in a small bag on the plane. Because I drink so much tea (see tip number one!), I love the memories attached to each special vessel and how they remind me of the place we got them in, like flea markets, tiny shops, or fancy hotel bars (shhhh).
4. Silverware (Especially Spoons)
Spoons are small and travel really well. They're inexpensive and make a lovely treat for yourself when having a morning bowl of oats, yogurt, or soup in the evening. I love having a mismatched set of spoons, as I can always add to the collection or give one away if a friend falls in love with one.
I buy fabric from vendors and unlikely shops all over the world. Sometimes the coolest fabrics are hanging out in hardware stores, kitchen supply places, or general "junk/tacky" shops. I save on costly tablecloths and make tablecloths out of layering a few of these oddball textiles, always a dazzling effect and never typical. The one you see in my tea party was purchased in a little Italian convenience store — it was tucked amidst colorful paper goods (bought some of those, too!) and mesh cheese domes to keep the flies out. I love the priorities in Italy!