savvy souvenir shoppers, FLiP W July 2014

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine July 2014.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine.  You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

flip cover july 2014

“Savvy Souvenir Shoppers

By Aeri Rose

There is a fine art to souvenir hunting and becoming an expert shopper takes some serious practice.   Of course, there is no wrong way to shop- if it makes you happy, you’re doing it right- but to get the most bang for your buck, and the biggest prize for your pesos, follow these five tips on your vacation this summer.

Tip #1) Seek the Authentic:

Most tourist stops and downtown walks are well canvassed by souvenir shops filled with inexpensive mass produced imports making a cheap parody of the local cultural arts and staffed by jaded and hardened sales clerks. Try not to shop here; except maybe in Finland, where they have made it a point of stocking their souvenir shops with goods from local artisans.

Instead, try to seek out the authentic: local craft shows, artisan boutiques, and traditional workshops. Never pass up the chance to walk through a street festival!

Sometimes finding these gems is a matter of trial and error until you stumble into the right shop. Once, on a hunt for hand painted ceramics in Cefalu, Sicily, I poked my head in countless stores and found nothing but the same low quality plates, until at long last I found a shop owned by two brothers who threw the pottery and painted the pieces right there in a workshop in the back.

Sometimes finding these gems takes as little effort as a well-placed question at the hotel reception.  In Gorёme, Turkey, on the hunt for, funnily enough, more painted pottery, I found myself overwhelmed by the choices until a local tour guide took me to the next town over where a centuries old workshop was still buzzing away, happily carving out red and white clay from the riverside and turning it into incredibly detailed, hand-thrown, hand-painted pieces of functional artwork.

Don’t settle for parodies when you can find the real deal! Enjoy the hunt as part of the experience!

Tip #2) Consider Logistics:

Speaking of pottery- beware fragile products and delicate tokens that do not travel well.  There are few things sadder than opening your suitcase at home to find a pile of brightly colored gravel where once there was a bowl, or finding your clothes have become a purple soggy mess when once there was a bottle of wine. If you just have to have that fragile thing, and nothing else will do, consider shipping your prizes home. The extra cost of recruiting an international shipping company, like UPS or DHL, to transport your fragile treasures is worth the reward of getting them home in one piece.

And size matters! When packing for a trip, always remember to leave a little extra room for new things.  Then, once on your trip, remember how much extra room you have to fill.  No one wants to be stuck trying to pack up an hour before departure only to find that unlike Mary Poppins their suitcase is not going to magically grow to fit everything they want to bring home.

It is best to buy things that are small but poignant, can be compressed, are sturdy enough to make the trip, or flexible enough to make packing a breeze.

Otherwise you must consider logistics when making your purchases- to pack and carry, or to ship and pay.

Tip #3) Admire the Practical:

Perhaps it is a more practical treasure you are after.  Pick up an extra jacket, scarf, or hat for a chilly evening and be reminded of your trip every time you wear that great accessory at home. Answering “Bolivia” instead of “The Gap” when an admirer asks you where you picked up that trendy new piece can be a great conversation starter.  Or browse the kitchen gadgets isle at a local department store for fun and interesting gadgets.  Pick up olive pitters from Greece, metal chopsticks and bamboo dumpling steamers from Korea, or tiny caviar spoons from Russia.

Remember that anything can be a souvenir as long as it reminds you of your trip!

Tip #4) Authentic Does Not Mean Expensive:

Some of the best souvenirs can be free! Dried leaves and flowers from a hike, ocean smoothed pebbles from a stone beach, sketches from a train, and printed and framed photographs from a trip all make wonderful memories and gifts.

Consider sending postcards!  They are an inexpensive yet delightful way to show someone you’ve been thinking about them while adventuring. After the trip, spending the time making a poster collage is a great way to look back on all the photos taken and memories made.

There are quality authentic souvenirs and trinkets to fit any budget!

Tip #5) Souvenirs are memories, not scavenger hunts:

The most important thing to keep in mind is that souvenirs are not meant to be conquests checked off of a “to do” list.  If you know you will never use it, don’t get the fur hat just because you’re in Russia. Souvenirs are tokens meant to be a reminder of a great trip.  So when traveling, buy things that reinforce those memories in the making.

Wait to make purchases until you’ve learned about the unique place you are visiting and you’ve experienced the richness of that new place.  What do the local cultures take pride in producing? What experiences have they wanted to share? Enjoy seeing those cultural treasures pop up again and again. And then when you find that perfect piece, buy it, even if it is out of your budget, because you might never get a second chance to buy it again.

C’est la vie and happy shopping!”

==================================================================================================Have you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Five years and over two dozen countries later, Erica Hession is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery which awaits those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Erica can be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as an artist and entrepreneur. To follow Erica on all her adventures, check her out online at aerirose.com or travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.

 flip july 2014

making your dream travel plans into a reality, FLiP Magazine October 2014

This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine October 2014.  FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine.  You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!

flip cover oct 2014

“Making your Dream Travel Plans into A Reality: It isn’t a dream vacation: it’s an unplanned adventure!

By Aeri Rose

The problem with dreams is that we think they are almost impossible to achieve. We put dreams on a pedestal and think about them fondly and frequently, but with a certain amount of aloofness and pragmatism, being pretty certain they will never come true. We can dream of being the queen of a floating cloud island, but unless we find an unmarried king with a decent cumulus that dream just will not come true.  We can dream of being the most famous Martian designer, but until we master interplanetary space travel, those catwalks will have to go without our fierce alien styles.

We should not dream about a vacation because travel is attainable. You CAN go on those trips you’ve always wanted to go on. You can and you will, as soon as you stop dreaming and start planning. In order to start planning successfully, there are a few misconceptions we are going to clear up right now. Don’t ever think you can’t travel because:

  1. You can’t afford it.
  2. You can’t go if no one will go with you; it isn’t safe to travel alone.
  3. If you travel alone, you’ll be lonely.
  4. You can’t decide where to go.
  5. You can’t leave right now.

Let me explain.

  1. You can travel, because travel does not have to be expensive.

Many budget travel bloggers, myself included, can talk for days about tips and tricks for frugal tourism.  For a smattering of those tips you should check out my blog www.travelingwithaeri.com. I can promise you that there are trips to fit every budget.

Saving for your trip does not need to be scary either.  A couple of friends once told me that they were having trouble saving for a trip they wanted to take until they put it in perspective.  They asked themselves what the trip was worth to them. Turns out it was worth more than soda.  So they gave up soda, and every time they felt a craving or thought about buying a bottle of pop, they would put that cash into a jar.  And sooner than you would believe, they had kicked an unhealthy habit and had a jar full of potential adventure.

  1. If you act smart, being alone in their country is no worse than being alone in your own.

Traveling alone is not asking for trouble. It is not the dangerous and intimidating experience your grandmothers want you to think it is.  Not all strangers are trying to lure you into their vans with candy. Most strangers are perfectly nice people going about their day just like you would be if you were home.

I have a few strategies to get comfortable with a new place, like to timing my arrival so there is still daylight, and taking a walk around the area to orient myself as soon as possible; but beyond that, don’t be afraid to explore! Ask for directions! Get a little lost wandering off the beaten path. That’s often where the best memories are made.

  1. “To Old Friends, New Friends, and Strange Places.”

I have raised my glass to this toast many a time, in many a place, with many a face.  Travel is your chance to get outside your bubble. Travel is more than looking at the architecture and geography of a place; it is about getting a feel for the culture too! Go introduce yourself to someone new! Smile at the bartender, get a drink at the hotel and chat up some fellow travelers! Ask the locals where you should eat and then invite them along! You might never see these people again, but there is comfort in knowing that there are people half a world away that you forged a genuine connection with.

But remember to take time to be alone too. Don’t be afraid to sit quietly on the bus and stare out the window. Remember the way the countryside looks as you ride past. Capture the serenity of a solo sunset and you’ll be able to access it the next time you’re surrounded by stress and chaos.

  1. This isn’t your only trip, it is only your first trip.

Don’t put the trip on a pedestal. Don’t you do it! Get it off of there! This doesn’t have to be the perfect, best, trip-to-end-all-trips trip.  It just has to be your first trip. Pick somewhere sort of interesting, and sort of in budget, maybe sort of nearby, and go for it. It might be great, it might not be what you expected, but no matter what it WILL be an experience to remember. You’ll learn from it. You’ll find things you love and things you hate. And you’ll discover that you are capable of so much more than you thought. And the next time you plan a trip it will be that much easier to get your butt out the door, and you’ll have that much more confidence in yourself, and that much more enthusiasm for the world around you.

  1. No time like the present.

There will never be a perfect time to go. There will never be a time when you have no deadlines at work, no significant others (people, pets, or plants) requiring your attention at home, and no other expenses demanding your hard earned dough. You will never get ALL your ducks in a row. So just leave them in a pile and get out there! Do it for yourself. All your ducks will be waiting for you when you return.

Now it’s your turn to decide what travel is worth to you, and recognize your own strength and independence. Don’t dream of cloud kingdoms; plan your next adventure instead. Travel is attainable! Go get it, girlfriend!

=====================================================================================Have you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Five years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri can be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as an artist and entrepreneur. To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at aerirose.com or travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.”

flip oct 2014