Our Favorite Tips for Keeping a Travel Journal

Travel journals are a fun and creative way to remember your most meaningful travels. While I record my favorite tips, tricks, and locations here at A Friend Afar, I knew I wanted to start a handwritten journal to record how these destinations make me feel. Starting a travel journal was something I thought about for a long time before I started writing because I was worried that I would start one and then quickly give it up or forget to write in it. I did a lot of searching through Pinterest for inspiration, and I was honest with myself about what would work for me and what would not work. Below are my favorite tips for starting a travel journal and keeping up with it as you seek out more adventures.

Our Favorite Tips for Keeping a Travel Journal - www.AFriendAfar.com

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Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Travel Gift Guide: Travel Coffee Table Books

We couldn’t resist one more round up of our favorite gifts! This time we’ve pulled together our favorite travel coffee table books, and we’ve included a fun variety of art, photographs, and home decor that reflect some of our favorite travel experiences.

Travel Coffee Table Books - www.AFriendAfar.com

Our Favorite Travel Coffee Table Books

Great Journeys – Travel the World’s Most Spectacular Routes by Lonely Planet
This gorgeous travel coffee table book will have you yearning for a few months off of work so that you can embark on an epic trip. It covers routes from the original Tour de France to Marco Polo’s exploration route. Get ready to add a few new trips to your bucket list!

National Geographic – The Covers by National Geographic
It’s no secret that we’re in love with National Geographic magazines around here. This collection of covers spanning the magazine’s 125 years inspires us to learn more about the places we travel to and the people we meet.

Nomad by Sibella Court
Sibella is our style icon, and we love how Nomad inspires us to bring our travels back home with us. Isn’t it wonderful how decorating your home with souvenirs big and small can take you back to your travels?

Jutaku: Japanese Houses by Naomi Pollock
Japan was one of our first loves, and we’re fascinated by how modern and traditional architecture manage to blend seamlessly. This gorgeous travel coffee table book showcases 400 homes that epitomize modern Japan.

59 Illustrated National Parks by Joel Anderson & Nathan Anderson
We just fell in love with The Anderson Design based out of Nashville, TN. Meagan even bought a print of all of the National Parks for Stephanie for Christmas. You know how Stephanie loves her parks! Anderson Design Group creates some amazing vintage-inspired travel posters – I’m sure they’ll have your favorite spot – and this book contains all of the national parks posters as well as fun facts and a history for each park.

Graphique de la Rue by Louise Fili
Our new found love of France (yeah, we’re a little behind – it’s because we were focused on Asia or Africa) cannot be underestimated. This gorgeous book captures one of the many things that make strolling the streets of Paris so special – the art of Paris’s signs. It’s perfect for your friends that are Francophiles, graphic designers, or just art lovers.

Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska
As cartography enthusiasts, we can’t get through a gift guide around here without including a map or a globe, and this travel coffee table book is an incredibly fun find. The gorgeous illustrations detail the history and cultures of countries and regions. It’s perfect for travelers of all ages!

Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky
Just as Great Journeys has us daydreaming about extreme voyages, this book has us adding new locations to our bucket list solely for the sake of “do you know anyone who has been there?!? Neither do I!” Visiting exciting and remote places that none of your friends have heard of will make you quite the explorer. Just adding them to your bucket list will make you feel like one.

You can see our other favorite travel gifts here, here, and here! And don’t forget to give a little back while doing all of your holiday shopping. We rounded up some of our favorite international charities to give you some ideas.

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Top 10 Gifts for the Traveler: Home Decor Edition

Looking for the perfect gift for a travel addict? Whether they travel often or they’re more of an armchair traveler, here are our favorite home decor gifts that bring the world back to their home base.

Travel Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

Our Travel Gift Guide to Bring the World Back Home

Travel Gift Guide: Rifle Paper Company City Coasters - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

These Rifle Paper Co. Cities Coasters include chic illustrations of London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo. We use ours for parties and at the office.

Travel Gift Guide: Cities calendar - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

A similar gift that we just couldn’t resist is this great calendar, also by Rifle Paper Co. We love that you can frame the illustrated maps after you use it.

Travel Gift Guide: Bolga Baskets from Ghana - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

Stephanie was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, and the famous souvenir from her region was the Bolga Basket. We love how they bring so much color and character into our homes!

Travel Gift Guide: National Parks Print - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

Stephanie’s been visiting a lot of National Parks lately, and this map is the perfect gift for any National Park fanatic who can’t get enough of the outdoors!

Travel Gift Guide: Chalkboard Globe - - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

Meagan collects globes, and while these aren’t her typical vintage globes, they’d be so fun! We love the idea of putting your next location on them. Next stop: Morocco!

And this one from CB2 is such a fun alternative to your typical corkboard map!

Travel Gift Guide: Ideal Bookshelf Travel Print - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

A little art is always a great idea! This fun print by An Ideal Bookshelf includes classic books of travel and adventure to inspire your next trip.

Travel Gift Guide: Nomad by Sibella Court - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

An absolute favorite, this beautiful coffee table book by Sibella Court has given us so much inspiration for how to display our most precious souvenirs.

Travel Gift Guide: Bolivian Pillows - Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

We’re suckers for bringing home textiles when we’re traveling, so naturally, we fell in love with these beautiful Bolivian pillows at Project Bly. We think you’ll love their entire store!

Travel Gift Guide: Hammam Towels Best Gifts for Travelers - www.AFriendAfar.com

Stephanie just got back from Istanbul and picked up some of these colorful Turkish towels at the Grand Bazaar. You can score some for yourself or a friend here.

Check out more of our favorite gifts for travelers here and here!

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Wanderlust Style: Vintage Maps as Decor

A few weeks ago we shared with you how we use vintage suitcases to bring that wanderlust style into our home. We love vintage maps as well, and we wanted to share some of our favorite inspirations, including a great DIY that currently graces our living room.

Vintage Classroom Maps in Home Decor

I just adore vintage classroom maps! Their faded colors, tattered edges, and wooden dowel rods for hanging give them so much character. I also love when the maps are old enough that their subject matter has changed – maybe they feature the Soviet Union or the Territory of Alaska. My husband and I have a large classroom map of the world entirely in Spanish. It adds so much character to our guestroom.

Maps in Home Decor - Vintage Classroom Map Collage - www.AFriendAfar.com

[Sources: Top: Conversation Pieces; Bottom: Country Living, Apartment Therapy, Shelterriffic]

Vintage Maps as Wallpaper

If you’re looking to make a really big statement, I love the idea of maps for wallpaper. You can either get a large scale mural of a world map or a city map like the black and white map of London below, or you can make your own “wallpaper” by hanging maps in a collage all over the wall.

[Sources: Majesty MapsThe Inspired Room]

Maps in the Bedroom: Headboards!

As I mentioned above, my husband and I have a giant Spanish language world map that was once used in a classroom. Lucky for us, it’s the same width as a queen-sized bed, and it now serves as a headboard in our guestroom. We hope it inspires sweet globetrotting dreams for our guests.

[Sources: Urban OutfittersMy Favorite and My Best, The Painted Hive, and 47 Park Avenue]

Other Great Examples

The map collages on the slanted ceilings shown below fascinate me. What a dreamy and unexpected idea! Since I’m also a collector of globes, of course, a vignette of globes in front of a large-scale map also caught my eye.

[Sources: Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, and Elle Decor]

And one final idea for you: the vintage-style map of Italy below, which we purchased at Paper-Source, was my husband’s and my gift to each other for our second anniversary. I used cotton thread to stitch our honeymoon trip along the train routes in Italy. The hearts mark the cities that we visited: Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Sewn Map DIY - Maps as Decor - www.AFriendAfar.com

Do you have any maps decorating your home? Tell us about them in the comments!

 

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.
Suitcase Collage - www.AFriendAfar.com

Wanderlust Style: Vintage Suitcases as Decor

I’m heading in a different direction today on A Friend Afar. I’ve been sharing all of my stories from France lately, but today I’d like to share with you one of the ways I stay inspired by travel when I’m at home. In addition to framed photographs from our trips and souvenirs like textiles and ceramics, we have a few vintage suitcases in our home. Our suitcases are stacked on a vintage luggage rack and serve as a nightstand in our bedroom.

Vintage Suitcase Nightstand - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

Here’s a nightstand similar to ours. [Source: Home DIT]

Vintage suitcases are easy to find at antique and thrift stores and are often very affordable. I always love finding ones with monograms, stickers of locations, and old airline luggage tags! I like to imagine where they went and what air, train, and ship travel was like back then! Suitcases are a great choice for vintage and global DIY furniture because you really can’t go wrong! Just stack them high or low for side tables or even just for displaying vignettes. They also serve as hidden storage, so for smaller homes or apartments, they are the perfect choice! I’ve gathered some of my favorite ideas below.

Suitcase Stack - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

I love this stack of vintage suitcases holding a vintage globe. Perfect vintage wanderlust style! [Source: Charity Chic]

Suitcase Stack Nightstand - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

Another bedside table, and I love the old camera placed delicately on top. [Source: Style Me Pretty Living]

Suitcase Coffee Table - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

Don’t limit yourself to side tables – these larger pieces of vintage luggage make a great coffee table and conversation piece! [Source: Eye for Design]

Suitcase Shelf - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

Here’s an interesting twist! This suitcase is attached to the wall as a shelf, and it makes a great nightstand with its pockets and storage space! [Source: Design Sponge]

Suitcase Table - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

I love these matching suitcases as a low side table in a living room. Since they’re stacked lower to the ground, the room still feels spacious. [Source: Style Me Pretty Living]

Suitcase Medicine Cabinet - Wanderlust Style: Suitcases as Decor - www.AFriendAfar

How fun is this suitcase medicine cabinet? They just added a mirror and attached it to the wall. So easy! [Source: Blake Sloan]

Here are a few more of my favorite ideas for displaying vintage suitcases around your home.

Do you have any suitcases that you use for storage and decoration? Tell me about them in the comments!

1. I love the plant sitting on top of these beautiful suitcases. [Source: Eye for Design]
2. See how easy it is to make a side table with storage? [Source: Globally Gorgeous]
3. Potted succulents and old books are displayed in these pretty suitcases. [Source: Apartment Therapy]
4. You can even paint your suitcase for a fun and quirky piece of furniture. [Source: Apartment Therapy]
5. What a lucky find these Louis Vuitton suitcases were! [Source: Victoria Pearson via Apartment Therapy]

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.
baskets

Home Decor Idea: Bolga Basket from Ghana

I love collected home decor items from my travels, and some of my absolute favorites are my baskets from West Africa. They’re functional, colorful, and remind of a time in my life that I’ll always treasure. I lived in the Upper East region of Ghana for two years where I was a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher. The famous souvenir from the regional capital of Bolgatanga are Bolga baskets, which are made by local artisans not just from the city of Bolga but also surrounding villages. They’re handwoven from elephant grass and provide Ghanaians with economic opportunities.

Home Decor Idea: Bolga Baskets- Bolga Basket- www.afriendafar.com #ghana #handicrafts

I use this colorful Bolga basket to hold some of my favorite travel magazines!

There are many places to buy Bolga baskets online, but if you’re interested in supporting a project that goes above and beyond the fair trade model, check out Blessing Baskets.  A volunteer I served with worked closely with this non-profit that exists to help reduce poverty in the countries where it works. I was able to visit her village to meet some of the artisans, watch them work, and of course buy baskets! They developed what they call a prosperity model that pays the artisans at least 2.5 times the Fair Trade wage, allowing for financial independence through entrepreneurship. In addition to providing income for the artisans, the project helps empower women and in Ghana built a school for girls. I try to be intentional about my purchases and like that a simple basket not only brings economic empowerment but also education to girls.

Stephanie grew up road-tripping across the U.S., but her first flight was to Australia, and she’s been hooked ever since. She lived abroad in Thailand, where she met Meagan, and in Ghana with Peace Corps and has been to over 30 countries on 6 continents. She travels for the adventure, the stories, and nature.
5 Steps to the Perfect Staycation - www.afriendafar.com

How to Plan a Staycation

Have you ever just really, really needed a vacation, but traveling to a far-flung place, or even just a few hours away, was just not in the budget?  Wanderlust always gets the best of me, but more often than not, a “quick weekend away” can really, really add up! Last fall, my husband and I planned the “ultimate staycation” in Atlanta. We took a Thursday and Friday off of work with relaxation and exploration in mind.  Since we knew that we’d end up napping on the couch all weekend if we didn’t have a plan, we set up some ground rules, and they made our long weekend incredibly exciting! We saw our city of over a decade with entirely new eyes! How’s that for wanderlust?

5 Steps to the Perfect Staycation - www.afriendafar.com

Follow these tips to plan the perfect staycation!

1. No cooking! We set this rule so that we’d feel pampered all weekend and try out new restaurants. This was especially fun for breakfast! We tried new breakfast restaurants, new doughnut shops, and new coffee shops all around our neighborhood! [Ok… If you love to cook, set a rule to try new recipes. We just didn’t want to clean the kitchen…]

2. Eat at new restaurants! We didn’t eat at any restaurants that we had been to before. Atlanta is a huge city with an amazing culinary scene, and we had so many restaurants that we’d been wanting to try. We knew it’d be way too easy to just go to our tried and true spots, so we cut those out entirely.

3. Have a Progressive Dinner! Have you had a “Progressive Dinner” before? If not, it’s typically where you visit multiple people’s homes for different parts of a meal during the holidays. We changed it up to restaurants for our staycation, and it made Rule # 2 even more exciting! Be sure to add it to your plans!

First, pick a restaurant with great cocktails and small plates for your appetizer course. We headed to H. Harper Station, which we’d heard so much about, and noshed on their bacon caramel popcorn while enjoying an old fashioned. Then, head to another new place for your next course! We tried out The Pinewood in Decatur for dinner, and their fried chicken with cheddar and herb waffles changed our southern-food-loving lives! If you still have room, head somewhere with exciting desserts next! It was off to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for our first taste of their amazing ice cream flavors. We hit up 3 new restaurants, had a much longer date night than normal, and had an amazing time!

4. Go where you haven’t been! We are rarely tourists in our own cities, which means that there are so many neat places that we never explore. We checked out historic sites like Oakland Cemetery. We did a tour of the Braves stadium and clubhouse. We found some new shopping destinations, and some great outdoor areas like the Chattahoochee Nature Center and new sections of the Beltline.

5. Don’t forget to rest a little, too! It is a vacation, after all!

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Spin the Globe

“and we laugh and laugh and all I know is at this moment I feel like I can do anything I want and be anyone I want and go anywhere on the globe and still call it home” ― Kirsten Smith, The Geography of Girlhood

“and we laugh and laugh and
all I know is
at this moment I feel like
I can do anything I want
and be anyone I want
and go anywhere on the globe
and still call it home”
― Kirsten Smith, The Geography of Girlhood

When my friends come over, they say my husband’s and my home is so very “us” in every way. I think what they mean is that we decorate with our travel photos, our souvenirs, our vintage maps, and globes. If we aren’t traveling, we’re thinking about it, and we like for our home to inspire us each and every day. We like for it to remind us of the other places we’ve called home and the places that have made an impact on our hearts.

I came across this awesome artist recently, Wild and Free Designs. That sounds like us, doesn’t it? Wild and Free! She takes vintage globes and paints beautiful quotes on them that inspire you to dream and explore. It’s something that I would love to do, but even though I have the ideas, I consistently fail at hand-lettering. She, however, is amazing at it. Check out her shop and her Instagram for more of her amazing work!

You know you want one.

Do you have any of her globes or similar ones? Did you make your own?

[This is not a sponsored post. I just really, really love her work. All the photos are from her website as well.]

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Beautifully Illustrated Maps

We are always on the look out for maps of all sizes and styles. A large, classroom-style world map, labeled entirely in Spanish serves as a headboard in our guest room. Maps of our honeymoon location, Italy, grace our master bedroom walls. Tracing journeys on city and country maps is a favorite and easy way to remember our trips. Let’s just say that you can tell we like to travel as soon as you look at our walls.

This illustrated map from artist Antoine Corbineau caught my eye immediately. Click the map for more of his great city illustrations. He really captures the personality of each city!Madrid Map

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.