My Five Favorite Ideas for Easy Collectibles

Cali Carper
December 1, 2021

Part of what makes home feel like home is decorating your space. Maybe you’re used to barren walls spare a single poster, or you’re like me and you decorate with a photo collection of your friends. Either way, or in any alternative, making a space your own is vital to creating a comfortable, welcoming, and safe harbor. This is especially true for when you’re thrown into a hotel in a foreign country. 

Maybe you have a tendency to pack heavy, also like me. You want to bring lots of books, trinkets, wall hangings, and your favorite LED lights, but you’re worried about packing it all away in that suitcase. Save the few can’t-live-without items and tuck away the rest safely back home. In reality, you’ll be bringing much more home with you than you’ll need to bring abroad, so it’s more feasible (and will save you the stress later) to pack less and assume you can buy the rest here. 

Tip: It’s always worth it to keep in mind what you buy here you either have to donate, trash, or bring home with you. Anything from tupperware to the extra pack of socks you buy. Remembering this while out-and-about will help with budgeting abroad as well!

But what I really want to share in this blog are the creative ways I’ve discovered to memorialize my time spent in Europe while also innovatively using my treasures to create a safe space in my room. As a bonus, I’m including great ideas from others in my program I wish I’d thought of myself. Here are my top five ideas for collectables abroad!

1. Postcards

This is a personal favorite inspired by my childhood best friend. It has become my goal to collect postcards from every city I visit, but especially every country! Every tourist shop has basic stock postcards, but if you want authentic and old school memories, I suggest visiting markets. I’ve collected items from churches, museums, markets, palaces, and more. Although I’ve been too nervous about poking holes in my cards, they are still a wonderful addition and hidden treasure in my room.

2. Jewelry

Accessories often make the outfit, and trust me, once you see Amsterdam’s street style, you’ll need to step up your game! The markets are an avenue to the local insights on style, budget, craft, and talent. They are vital if you want to tap into the local talent, and especially fruitful when it comes to handmade jewelry! As far as decorating is concerned, you can play around with how to incorporate your most prized pieces.

3. Tickets/Passes

Simple enough and straight off of every Pinterest travel board. I’ve saved every ticket, plane and train, to tack up on the boards in my room. Although not much has been added to my collection, the sporadic pinned up tickets remind me daily of the wonderful travel experiences I’ve had during my semester with IES Abroad Amsterdam

4. Books

 I thought bringing books from home was essential, but they’ve only sat on my desk shelf gathering dust. I had nothing else to decorate with, and what would two books do? I decided to start collecting more, at least one from each country I visit. As a comparative literature major, this was a must. I now have a modest ‘shrine’ with my Dutch, German, French, and English books stacked in an impressive arrangement. 

5. Film or Disposable Camera

Full credit to my program friends for this idea. Throughout the semester, my friends have carried around cameras to capture our best and most beautiful moments. Of course, our phones can no doubt take pictures, but there is a certain ambience and beauty that phones can’t capture. Plus, you can get your film developed here! This way you not only have a unique aesthetic in the streets, but you have plenty of options for decorating.

The real trick is to express your creativity in whichever form suits you! 

More Blogs From This Author

Cali Carper,

Money Management and Budgeting Abroad

Having financial concerns about living and surviving abroad? I offer some general and Amsterdam-specific advice for how to limit costs in the areas that matter...

View All Blogs

Cali Carper

<p>Hi there! I’m Cali Carper, a small-town Wisconsin girl who enjoys her book collection, dance, fashion, thrifting, knitting, and thinking critically. Currently, I’m a fifth-year student at Penn State studying Criminology and Comparative Literature with minors in Korean, Asian Studies, Sociology, Global Studies, and English. When I was a first-year student, I spent a summer abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. In my last year, I’ll be traversing Europe for a semester during my study abroad trip to Amsterdam, where I’ll participate in the Law &amp; Criminology program at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Penn State University
Hudson, WI
Comparative Literature
Criminal Studies
Explore Blogs