4 Expert-Approved Tips to Decorate Your Home With Items From Your Travels

living room interior decorated with many worldly souvenirs and plants

Luisa Brimble / Unsplash

No matter your age, experience, or part of the world you reside in, chances are, you have positive memories of travel. This doesn’t have to mean that you’ve been to all corners of the earth. Sometimes the most beautiful trips can happen in your country—even in your city of residence or hometown. But anyone who travels (frequently, or even occasionally) knows that there is something to be said about the experience.

When you travel, you open up a part of yourself underneath the surface—often, you are pushed out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to learn a new language and customs, dress differently, or take on an identity that best fits the place you are exploring. It's fair to say that traveling can be a life-changing experience.

Whether you identify as having wanderlust, were recently bit by the travel bug, or are casually thinking about planning a trip in the future, here are tips from design and art experts on how to bring travel to the heart of your home.

1. Tell Your Travel Story Through Your Design

Living room decorated with items from travel

Meg Lonergan

Every adventure has a story. Whether you jumped from an airplane or simply tried a different food in a new area, your travels share how you’ve grown, what you’ve accomplished, and the places you’ve been. And as you design your home, these travel moments can (and should) be a major element. 

Your home should tell your story.

"Our homes can be modeled after the look and feel of our favorite locales, calling on architectural elements, color palettes, and unique fixtures and finishes that transport us back to a dreamy destination," says interior designer, Meg Lonergan. "When we can’t make structural changes, it’s time to call on all of the senses... Play up scent with candles and soaps you bring back from past journeys, weave in found elements and antique furnishings, and layer authentic textiles like rugs, blankets, and bedding throughout your home."

Rather than travel items only being a small part of the design, Lonergan pushes for these elements to be an integral consideration when it comes to how a room or space is set up. Small décor items, photography, and art, for example, can be incorporated into the theme colors, provide a much-needed accent, or offer a comforting reminder of another time and place.

"One of my most treasured pieces of art is a photo of a New Orleans oyster bar that my sister captured," Lonergan says. "Every time I see it, I immediately go back to the day it was taken and all of the memories that were made!"

2. Create an Ever-Growing Gallery Wall

people sitting in front of Travel map on a wall

Must Do Canada

Gallery walls can be used to display your travel adventures and show your personal growth. When you’ve only been to a few places, it shows the excitement of your first trips. As you travel more, your wall grows—and so do the memories and experiences.

Matthew Bailey, founder of Must Do Canada, takes a non-traditional spin on the gallery wall with a 3D wooden map. Bailey and his wife, both avid travelers, have been to six continents, 42 countries, and all of Canada. And although their home is littered with memorabilia from all their adventures, the map often receives the most praise.

Whether you’re a world traveler or not, having an area designated to sharing the places you’ve been (and the locations you hope to go to someday) can inspire and create a truly unique element in the heart of your home.

3. Find Items That Connect With Your Guests

person looking at a photo in a book

Allison Davis

Your travels will always be uniquely yours. And while that’s incredibly special and should be honored in ways that make sense to you, there’s definitely an element of connection that can be built when your items reach out to others or bring them into your experience in a meaningful way.

Rather than opting for a photo on a wall, Allison Davis, wedding and lifestyle photographer and author of Revealed at the Edgeencourages people to invest in something that will showcase beautiful destinations and elements of nature in a way that others can connect to—a coffee table book!

"Adventuring along the entirety of the American West Coast, I sought to capture the wild and natural beauty of the coast in a near mile-by-mile story," Davis says. "Car-camping, living simply, traveling light on the 3116-mile trip, I wrote as I photographed the beauty of the world in a time of loss. I wanted to bring into focus the inspiring beauty and wonder of the rugged landscapes of the coast."

After traveling the entire West Coast, Davis collated a collection of images, paired with reflective journals for her book. The breathtaking photography has helped her not only share where she has been and the experiences she’s had but to relate to everyone that she welcomes in her home.

This is a perfect idea for bringing your most treasured memories to the heart of your space—whether you invest in a book of an area you love or create something of your own.

4. Remember That Your Display Doesn’t Always Have to Be Fancy

marble statue next to fruit on counter in kitchen

Siren Betty Design

Bringing travel to the heart of your home doesn’t mean you have to purchase expensive furniture to display the items you have collected. "Collectibles don’t necessarily have to be treated like museum exhibits,” says Nicole Alexander, principal and founder of Siren Betty Design

Although there’s often pressure to display items as centerpieces or prominent items on a wall or shelf, there’s something beautiful about putting your treasured travel items in unremarkable locations. 

“Place [your collectibles] among everyday items,” she says, “[For example] a marble vessel next to the shampoo on a shower shelf or this statue alongside a bunch of fruit in the kitchen. Now every time this client goes to her fruit bowl, she's reminded of the wonderful market in South Asia where she found the statue.”

Ultimately, how you decide to bring travel to the heart of your home is really up to you, but the more you can naturally and purposefully incorporate these elements and bring them into the space with joy and intention, the more special these memories will be.