A trip, whether across the world or to a town a few hours away, can expose you to fresh design ideas and new finds. Traveling may not only win you a stylish souvenir to display in your home, but studies have shown that it may even make you think more creatively, especially when immersed in a different culture. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're traveling so you can tap into that creative energy and easily incorporate your finds into your space once you're back home.
Start a collection (especially one that's free!)
If your itinerary includes any time spent lounging seaside, starting a collection will probably happen without you even trying. Beachcomb for shells, driftwood, and sea glass (just be sure to grab only empty, critter-free shells and follow the area's collection rules). When you return home, introduce the finds into your decor—even if your style is anything but coastal. Place a specimen under a glass cloche or leave just a small bottle of sand on a living room shelf to remind you of the trip. If your destination is miles from the beach, there's still plenty to collect. Personally, I love picking up matchbooks from restaurants or bars—their designs reflect the place's aesthetic, and they're typically left in a big bowl near the door so I can snatch one up on my way out.
Take (At Least Some) Photos Without People in Them
When you're on a trip with loved ones, it's easy to start snapping photos of everything you're doing together and forget to take a moment to appreciate a new landscape. Be sure to capture some images of the surroundings, whether it's a forest, shoreline, or cityscape, without any people in them. After the trip, these images tend to work really well for DIY projects (plus, you don't have to worry about whether your friend's eyes are open in the shot). To take the best outdoor photos, shoot during "the magic hour," or the hour before sunset, when the light is soft. For the same reason—harsh light is not an amateur photographer's friend—slightly cloudy weather is better than full-on sun. Flattering, diffused light is basically mother nature's version of an Instagram filter, and it works for both people and scenery. When the trip's over, follow Darkroom and Dearly's tutorial to turn the images into coasters you'll use every day, or find more display ideas in our roundup of vacation photo projects.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Inspiration—Everywhere!
The world is your personal Pinterest board, and inspiration can pop up anywhere, not just in an art museum. Restaurants, cafes, shops, parks, and street art (like the geometric mural in L.A., above) can all teach important design lessons. Pay attention to colors and textures, materials you haven't seen before, and shapes you like. Document your finds through photos, notes, or sketches so you can look back at them later. Who knows, the vibrant blue of a wall in Santorini may just inspire you to repaint your house.
What are your favorite things to collect and take photos of during your travels?