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Travel Shopping


Published: 12/02/2013

by Kimberley Seldon

For many of us, marvelling over local crafts, furnishings and foods is a major part of the whole travel experience. If you’re like me, you’ll agree that nothing compares with the satisfaction of buying at the source. Here are some of my favourite suitcase splurges – those little gems that pack easily and forever remind you of a favourite destination. 


1. Original artwork should be at the top of every traveller's shopping list. Unframed pieces are nearly indestructible, fit easily into suitcases, and carry fond memories for years to come. Sign the back with details of the purchase and you’ve got a treasured family keepsake.


2. Pottery and porcelain are worthy (though fragile) take-home choices. French Barbotine, Spanish Majolica and Japanese Aritaware or Imari can be called into practical service or simply enjoyed on display once you get them back home.


3. Antique boxes are widely available in a variety of materials, such as wooden boxes with inlaid marquetry, tortoiseshell, shagreen and lacquered finishes. Larger antique boxes were a precursor to the laptop, allowing travellers to keep stationery, ink and quills close at hand when far from home. Today’s collectors look for boxes that once held toiletries, stationery or tea.


4. Serving trays lay flat amid folded clothing and are always welcome gifts back home. Regional examples might be made of tole, acrylic, wood, pewter or silver, depending on locale. For a cost-effective gift, hit the local grocery store. They often have regionally designed trays at a fraction of design shop prices.


5. Copper cookware with its mellow glow adds a classic French accent to the kitchen.


6. Antique textiles and lace can be purchased at antique shops and flea markets. Once home, they can be framed or used to create decorative pillows.


7. Dishtowels or bedding fashioned of linen, cotton or hemp are easily transported. Vintage examples often feature embroidered details or monograms.


8. Local delicacies such as jam, pâté, cookies and tapenade can be savoured for weeks following a trip. I search for beautiful sugars wrapped in unusual packaging, infused with lavender or decorated with fanciful details, to give away as hostess gifts throughout the year.


9. Leather-bound books, though they are quite heavy, can be found at flea markets and fairs for reasonable prices.


10. Chandeliers, sconces and lanterns from Europe, Asia and Africa can easily be re-wired to suit North American standards or converted to candle use. A large 10-light chandelier would probably cost around $400 to re-wire, a pair of sconces somewhere around $60-$80.  


Kimberley Seldon Design Group offers consultations and full design-build services. For details, visit

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