Ten brilliant ideas for your travel collection by Gadling readers

Items for your travel collectionDo you have a travel collection? I do. I collect thimbles everywhere I go. I like to put them in an antique wooden drawer which has been repainted and hung on the wall, and I hope one day my grandchildren will play with them and ask me what the different destinations were like back when I … could see/could walk/had teeth.

Collecting something small on your travels is budget friendly (unless you collect something extravagant, but that’s up to you) and makes finding your souvenir a lot of fun. It’s less like looking for a needle in a stack of needles, which is what looking for “something special” can feel like, and more like a quick, satisfying errand you can check of your list in no time. If you only stay in destinations for a short time, a travel collection is gratifyingly doable, and you’ll be able to relive your amazing journeys (and remember the ones you totally forgot about) for years and years.

We wanted to know what you collect, so we asked our readers on Facebook what they collect. We received some brilliant responses and wanted to tell you what some of the best were, in case you haven’t started your travel collection yet!Ten brilliant ideas for your travel collection by Gadling readers

1. “Cookbooks.” — Bunny
2. “Christmas ornaments.” — Nicole
3. “Shot glasses.” — Kekama
4. “Magnets.” — Joseph
5. “Postcards.” — Dionne
6. “Labels from Pepsi bottles.” — Rachael
7. “Bells.” — Angela
8. “Coffee cups.” — Elizabeth
9. “Beer bottle openers.” — Joe
10. “Maps.” — Evan

We loved that people have fun with it. Some of the stories associated with collections include: “Every time someone from my shared office travels out of town (for work or pleasure), he has to send back the most blatantly PhotoShopped postcard he can find. We have most of one wall covered so far,” from Meg, and: “The Christmas ornaments are a wonderful way of reliving my travels each holiday season as I set up my tree and the cookbooks are useful and fun all year long. The rocks go on my windowsill where my grand-daughter plays with them and sands go into the pot for my 12′ Norfolk Island pine,” from Bunny.

What do you collect? Want to join in the conversation and possibly be quoted in our next Facebook article? Visit Gadling on Facebook.

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[Photo by Annie Scott.]

Fake gems and minerals sold to tourists in Namibia


More and more adventure travelers are discovering Namibia, a nation in southwest Africa that offers deserts, beaches, safaris, and hikes. Unfortunately this rise in tourism has led to a rise in tourist scams. Namibia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Isak Katali, has warned miners to stop selling fake gems and minerals to tourists. Mining is big in the country, and many miners are independent prospectors who scratch out a difficult and hazardous living from the rock.

One way to make extra money is to sell their finds to tourists. This has proved too tempting for some, and they’re using their specialized knowledge, and the average tourist’s cluelessness, to fob off colored glass as precious stone. While most miners are honest, buying minerals and gems in Namibia has become a tricky game. Mr. Katali says this has already hurt tourism and the country’s reputation.

Namibia is certainly not the only country where cheap imitations are fobbed off to unsuspecting visitors. People will fake pretty much anything if they think it will sell. When visiting the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in Syria, I was offered a “genuine Roman coin” made of aluminum! Back in 2008, Italian police broke up a gang selling fake Ferraris.

Have you ever bought something overseas only to discover later it was a fake? Share your tale of woe in the comments section!

[Image courtesy Arpingstone]

Now Open: the Pentagon’s super secret art collection


Did you know the Pentagon collects art? The United States military began taking an interest back in 1840 and today, the total collection counts more than 15,000 pieces produced by some 1,300 actual American soldiers. Most of these artists are self-taught, enlisted military personnel and depict the sights and scenes of life in the armed forces–often at war and often in other countries.

I got a sneak preview of the exhibit a while back and was amazed by the talent and emotion depicted in the collection. From Vietnam to the Gulf War to Iraq and Afghanistan–these paintings explore an insider’s view of war, sometimes tender and sometimes horrific yet utterly lacking in propaganda or modern media. One artist even painted on canvas torn from combat tents because that’s what was available in Iraq.

Interested travelers can get a taste of our nation’s long-hidden art reserve in Philadelphia, where 300 pieces have been chosen for a special exhibit, Art of the American Soldier at National Constitution Center. The show opens today, September 24, 2010 and runs until January 10, 2011, after which it will begin a national tour.

(Attack at Twilight; Roger Blum, Vietnam 1966)

Postcrossing celebrates five years of postcard revolution

There’s something very special about sending or receiving a postcard. It’s one of the simple joys of travel, yet in the age of email, Skype, and social networking, you’d think the old-fashioned postcard would have become a thing of the past.

It hasn’t. Thanks to Postcrossing, a postcard trading organization, postcards are undergoing a revival. Postcrossing turns five years old this week and in that short time it has racked up some staggering statistics–more than 4.7 million postcards have been sent by more than 190,000 members to about 200 countries. Those postcards have logged 25,771,990,953 km. That’s 643,093 laps around the world!

One odd aspect of Postcrossing is that most correspondents are complete strangers. Postcrossing wants to start a “postcard revolution” by getting people to start sending more postcards, not just to their friends and family, but to random fans around the world.

Postcrossing is free to join. Members put their address into a secure database. When you request to send a card, another member’s address is sent to you. Once your card is received and registered, you’re next in line to get a card from another stranger! It’s a lot of fun and a good way to spread international friendship and teach geography to your kids. I and at least one other Gadling blogger are Postcrossing members. So if you’re tired of only receiving junk mail in your mailbox, give Postcrossing a try.

In case you’re wondering, this is the mailbox just outside the post office in Harar, Ethiopia. That’s the left arm of yours truly sending some cards to my son and some fellow Postcrossing members.

The naughty postcard museum

The British have always been famous for their humor, both dry wit and the naughtier brand. One man who combined the two is being celebrated in a new museum that opened in Ryde in the Isle if Wight yesterday.

Donald McGill, Britain’s “king of vulgarity”, illustrated thousands of postcards over an almost sixty-year career. He was best known for simple double-entedres like the one pictured to the right. He also has the distinction of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most sales of an individual postcard–one featuring a bookish man and an attractive young woman sitting under a tree. The guy peers over a volume and asks the girl, “Do you like Kipling?” to which she replies, “I don’t know, you naughty boy, I’ve never kippled!” That sold more than six million copies.

One of his most popular, and most controversial, shows two men admiring an attractive woman as one says to the other, “She’s a nice girl. Doesn’t drink or smoke, and only swears when it slips out!”

In the age of Internet pornography these barely qualify for a PG rating, but in Britain before the Sixties they shocked stogy traditional sensibilities. In 1953 many local jurisdictions raided the shops selling his postcards and burned any they found. The next year at the age of 79, McGill had to face what the museum’s curator called a “show trial” for obscenity. He got off with a fine, but the ruling almost killed the saucy postcard industry.

The Donald McGill Museum website is still under construction but shows some more examples of McGill’s work.


Photo courtesy Donald McGill via Wikimedia Commons.