Discovering Local “Treasures”
Whether heading off on that winter getaway or planning a vacation later in the year, looking for those special “finds” is often a key, and very enjoyable, part of the travel experience.
No matter where you travel in the U.S. or around the globe often there are some obvious choices. However, there are other items that represent the locale’s true creative heart and it is worthwhile to make the extra effort to discover these.
Where to start? A great deal can be learned through online research before leaving home, following Twitter hashtags, checking out Pinterest, and more. Nothing, though, beats walking once at your destination and speaking with the locals.
The latter is how I found one of my favorite places, Nina Catrina’s store by Ana Pena, in Punta De Mita, Mexico. Items are one-of-a-kind, with the designs inspired by Mexico’s vibrant colors and interpretation with a twist of its traditions.The concept here is an open cage, believing birds should not be caged, spray painted gold. Inside is a tiny frame, where the bird would be perched with the word “freedom” written there.
It always helps to recognize local craftsmanship. For example, when I had the opportunity to go to Mumbai for business a few years ago, the first items I came across were Buddha statues and enamel bowls. However, what I then noticed were many beautiful scarves.
While quality is certainly a consideration, sometimes it is fine to just enjoy the beauty of such colorful and surprisingly intricate designs.
Similarly, when visiting a city like Paris there are obvious choices — fashion items, wine, food, crystal, etc. However, shopping becomes much more of an adventure when taking the time to visit one or more of the city’s iconic flea markets (and suggest looking for local “events” wherever you travel). It’s from browsing the aisles that I began a collection of French antique toys and banks. These become intriguing decor objects when back home and always good conversation starters.
Adding to the appeal of these flea markets is having the opportunity to interact with the locals, including both sellers and other shoppers. They can be a great resource for finding additional places to search for more unique finds. One tip is when you are where a foreign language is being spoken keep a small dictionary with you, either as a book or phone app, to make it easier to conduct your transactions.
Another place where I have been fortunate enough to participate in these kinds of exchanges is at the Los Dominicos Artisans Village in Santiago, Chile (but again there are many similar opportunities right here close to home, and look at our Favorite Resources for more ideas). Items found there are all high-quality, handcrafted gifts and artwork, with the opportunity to both see local artisans hard at work and to learn more about the history of these crafts.
By buying directly from the artists you can usually make sure you are paying a fair price for your purchase and even more importantly you are making sure that that the money you hand over directly rewards who is putting in the hard work (and contributing the talent).
Also, when you walk around and see an item in a number of different shops it’s not unique. No matter what, though, buy what you love and you’ll enjoy it back home for years to come.
These are just a few ideas and examples of what we’ve experienced. We’d love to hear more about yours (just enter your comment below). Also, to share you own finds just use hashtag #way2finds when posting to Instagram.
As always, happy hunting!
comments powered by Disqus