remembrance of travel past

As we prepared for our life of travel, we gave away most everything we owned.  Books, food processor, TV, down comforter, and so much more… It all came down to money. The expense of storing all of those things for the many years we planned to travel would cost quite a bit more than it was all worth.

It took a great deal of time and effort to give it all away, and, as we left on our trip, we were determined not to accumulate a lot of “souvenirs” on the road.

At the start of our travels, we spent 3 months in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand and didn’t buy anything to bring back for ourselves.  That took resolve.  By the time we reached Cambodia, we found a little something that we both wanted and needed.

We’d been carrying a photo of our 4 grandchildren with us.  Putting the photo into very small, silk frame without glass would be perfect for tucking into our suitcase while we traveled – and perfect for displaying on our nightstand in places we stayed.

As we traveled with so few possessions for such a long period of time, we felt a certain “lightness.” We knew that feeling would slowly melt away with each new purchase.

The first 3 or so years of our travel, we found a few treasures worth tucking into our suitcases: a small number of seashells in New Zealand, a porcupine quill and a few flamingo feathers on the ground in Africa.

We also received gifts along the way.  Our hiking guide in Morocco, Rashid, gave each of us a memorable gift.  The hotels where we stayed for some days in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia gave each of us scarves that we love to wear. Our hosts in Whangaparaoa New Zealand gave us a Maori peace symbol.

And the hotel where we stayed for 10 nights in Cusco, Peru gave us a this charming llama family as a parting gift.

We tucked away napkin rings, a gift from Bahia Bustmante in Argentinian Patagonia.   Those will most definitely be used.

We were thrilled when an opportunity came to replace an item of our clothing.  Joe found a very lightweight blue shirt in Cambodia.  Beth found linen pants on Crete in Greece. After a visit to a soap factory in Corfu, Greece – we became faithful users of their olive oil bar – perfect for dry skin.

Finally, our trip to South America a few years ago forced us to reconsider our strict limitation on “souvenir” purchases.  We visited the studio of Miguel Andrango, one of the best backstrap weavers in Ecuador.

The prices for beautifully woven pieces in his studio shop were quite reasonable, and we knew that we would regret not having a woven piece for a someday-in-the-future home.  We bought one, and that was just the start.

We purchased a little clay hand in Peru to rest on an open book.

More textiles were purchased in Peru (photo) and on a later trip to Laos and Cambodia.

We consoled ourselves, having made more “souvenir” purchases than we initially intended to, but also knowing we made relatively few purchases over our many years of travel.  Many of our purchased items were useful and not merely decorative.  The relatively small amount spent supported craftspeople in lesser economies.

After more than few purchases, we prefer to think that what we have brought back are “remembrances” of these 6 years of traveling.  The gifts, found objects, and purchases made have continued to serve as a reminder of the far-away places and the wonderful, generous people we met.


June 2019

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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15 Responses to remembrance of travel past

  1. Sarah says:

    I love this! I find buying souvenirs for my family as a way of bringing a piece of where I was back to them ❤️

  2. timetomosey says:

    Hello – At some point in the recent past my wife (Kanchana) and I (Dean) stumbled onto your website. It’s been a pleasure following along with you guys throughout your travels. We find your latest post to be very timely as we are retiring this week (Friday 28, 2019). We are at the end of a 3 year plan to get rid of all our possessions, sell our home, move into an apartment, retire (early) and move to Thailand (where my wife is originally from). We are lucky to get started fairly young, I (Dean) just turned 50 and my wife is 54. We have covered everything in our travel website (including our past travels to Thailand & Southeast Asia.

    Thank you for sharing your life and being an inspiration!

    • What a wonderful story! And congratulations on your careful planning and work. We wish the same wonderful years of fulfilling and rewarding travel that we have experienced. We’ll look forward to reading about your adventures.

  3. We don’t buy much when we travel either. I prefer to spend my money on delicious specialty foods. It sounds like you are settling down again after so much travel. Looking forward to hearing more about that.

  4. icelandpenny says:

    Oh yes, the heady liberation of less stuff and more flexibility … But do I detect a past-tense context for the travel? Are you again settling somewhere?

    • Yes, we are. (Aren’t you clever!) The whole story will be an upcoming future post. I’ll leave you in suspense….

      • icelandpenny says:

        Oh you tease… Well, I look forward to your next phase, and the ways in which years of travel have sharpened your eye and your senses – I wonder how all that will enrich how you view and react to a more “settled” life? I bet it makes that life deeper, fuller…

  5. We did the same thing for our recent 20 months traveling. We only replaced necessities, and only purchased 2 souvenirs in our last city. It was difficult at first, but after a few sites, it was refreshing to not have to look in shops for that ‘perfect’ item.

    • We didn’t spend a lot of time in shops until friends joined us. Once we joined friends who were actively shopping, it was quite easy to slip back into that old pattern. A lesson learned by us…

  6. Marti Weston says:

    Always such fun to read, and as an extra bonus, I get the joyful feeling that I, too, have traveled to these amazing places.

  7. I know exactly what you mean by “lightness” when shedding your possessions as we too experienced that same feeling during the year it took us to sell and give away our stuff when preparing to travel full-time. After you go through that and then tote around all your possessions in a suitcase, you no longer look at things the same way. The precious souvenirs that you’ve tucked away during your years of travel will no doubt be cherished for the memories they bring you of places and people you’ve met along the way which makes them absolutely priceless! Anita

  8. plaidcamper says:

    Beautiful items, and I doubt there are many travellers out there who travel as lightly as you!

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