Something I really love about travelling is the shopping - I can never resist a good market or a browse around a boutique filled with delicate handmade crafts. There's something beautiful about the way so much effort is put into the creation and sourcing of such wonderful products. It's just so pure when you come from a world of mass-produced fashion where everyone dresses the same and personal style can sometimes lack a bit of soul. I've always much preferred something a bit quirky, something not everyone else wears - I love clashing colours, bright prints and vibrancy that reflects my personality. When I traveled in Asia, the markets filled with tie-dye, patterns and colours were made for me, the delicate shall bracelets and coloured anklets were the stuff my dreams were made of and the cheap prices allowed me to reinvent my image every few days.When I was in Australia, even when things were a touch more expensive, I couldn't resist the lure of a beautiful handmade jewellery shop in Darwin that has given me one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Never leaving my ankle, this dainty silver piece was handmade and holds some of my most precious travelling memories close to me wherever I go. It's amazing really how a well chosen memento can transport you back to a moment in seconds, how it can transform your day with just a glance by reminding you of happier times. Something handmade always seems that much more precious because of the time, effort and heart that has been poured into the creation of it. It just seems so much more special because it is a handcrafted reminder of not only the place, but the people who created it and the history behind it.Santorini was surprisingly a hidden gem when it came to shopping after warnings it was an expensive island. I actually found the shops very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the items on sale. And actually having a suitcase with me instead of a backpack for once - it seemed rude not to indulge! While there didn't seem to be any markets to browse, there were several shops and lovely little jewellery stalls scattered around Perissa, where we were staying. My favourite item of the holiday was without a doubt my mermaid dish, pictured at the top, it is absolutely beautiful and perfect for holding all my favorite jewellery. I love the shimmering shell and it was a total bargain for something that will fit beautifully with my room at home and make a perfect present for friends. For any other mermaids out there, it's a perfect reminder of those gorgeous ocean blues when you've had a long day at work or the weather is kind of crappy at home.Everywhere you go in Greece there are shops selling handmade sandals, wallets and bags, and usually I'm not very interested. But when I stumbled across a little shop full of some of the most beautiful, and quirky, handmade sandals I've ever seen - plus a real-life cobbler whipping them up in front of my very eyes - I just couldn't resist! This shop was amazing and I decided to treat myself to a new pair of sandals which are already the most comfortable shoes I own and I know I'll have for a very long time. The cobbler was so friendly and even made my mother and I matching bracelets to wear with the shoes. The whole process of watching him create these beautiful shoes from pieces of leather and fabric was just amazing, and it was so lovely to witness as you were buying the shoes. It really gave you a sense of where the shoes came from and made them that much more special.Further along the seafront we discovered a little shop with some of the most beautiful dresses, jumpsuits and jewellery adorning the rails inside. A total mish-mash of creative, colourful trinkets lined the shelves, including some rather odd items such as decorative penises, and a host of gorgeous decorations for your home and even photo albums. I couldn't resist trying on this beautiful dress, and I found an amazing jumpsuit and dress for my mum, plus I treated her to a cute little bracelet as a reminder of the holiday. The staff were so friendly and put the emphasis on the handmade elements of the clothes and jewellery within the store, that was what really sold the items to us, the fact that they were one-of-a-kind with only one of each in the shop. That's something you really struggle to find back home where everything is available in every colour and size, so it just means everyone has one.If you're looking for a handmade gift that is just a little bit more personal, why not try Forever Handmade - they focus on using centuries old techniques to create modern looking accessories. This post was a collaboration with Forever Handmade, but as usual, all views are my own.
What handmade treasures have you discovered while travelling? Which purchases have become treasured possessions?
One of my biggest addictions, both in travelling and in life, is jewellery. I come from a fashion-loving family - my mum is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes and always buys one in every colour. My sister on the other hand works as a fashion buyer and only deals with the finest of clothes and the snootiest of brands. I've always loved clothes but I'm more about finding something quirky and unusual than about spending a fortune - when I came travelling I was made for spending my days in bikinis and my nights in floaty tie-dye creations. The colours and the materials were the things my dreams were made of - from elephant print hareem pants to brightly patterned dresses and floaty tops with colours rolling into each other. I have a serious love of brightly coloured and patterned clothes - to the point that often I'll struggle to find items that will go together in my wardrobe. Packing to come travelling with just a 65l bag was a toughie and I was torn between wanting to take everything and nothing at all with me - a big part of me was keen just to start over with fresh clothes and a new attitude. I ended up taking a bag stuffed with clothes and threw most of it away when I hit the shores of Thailand - realising the markets were packed with gorgeous colours and fabrics was just too tempting for a girl like me.As my travels went on, I stocked up here and there, buying things that inspired me from bags and bracelets to tops and dresses. I even had some amazing gifts from friends including a yoga pal of mine who picked out some of my favourite trousers of all time - great taste! I loved the way my clothes reflected my state of mind and they perhaps showed the biggest outward change other than the smile on my face - finally I didn't have to play at being smart or 'fashiony' - I could just dress as scruffy as I wanted and nobody cared. Basically it was like embracing the festival version of myself every single day - we're talking bright colours, tassels, patterns, glitter and FUN. And we all know how much I love the festival version of myself. However, it got to a point when I knew I had not long left in Asia and that I would still have to send a lot of my clothes home before hitting up Australia - I had to stop shopping for clothes and to stop filling up my already overflowing backpack and start finding other ways of collecting mementos. I chose jewellery - my other great love. From rings and bracelets, to necklaces and earrings, Asia is packed full of amazing, quirky jewellery that will appeal to all tastes. Before I knew it, my arms were full of bracelets and my ankles full of anklets, but when it came to arriving in Australia I decided it was time to shed several of them and to make a fresh start in this new land.For ages at the beginning I couldn't afford to shop - living in Sydney for a month then partying my way up the East Coast meant I had little dollar to spare on frivolities like clothes and jewellery when there was goon to be bought. Plus, as many of us backpackers would say to each other - we often wore the same thing on five nights out in a row because we were always with a different crowd and no one would know the difference. But by the time I arrived in Darwin and was earning a good wage from my two jobs, I started to get the itch to shop again. Trying to save as much money as possible - I limited myself to charity shops like Vinnie's (which actually had an amazing range of brand new clothing in top condition). But when it came to jewellery I just couldn't resist the stalls down at Mindel Markets, one in particular is held by Embella which quickly became one of my favourite jewellery brands of all time. Started up around seven years ago by Sally, who started making jewellery at seven years old, the brand is a unique design and jewellery business. Originally starting up in Victoria, Sally and her husband Ross toured the festivals with Embella products before taking a motor home on the road for six years, eventually ending up in Darwin where they fell in love the lifestyle. It's a brand that was made by travellers for travellers and I love the way the pieces reflect the feeling of being at one with the world around you. My favourite piece is my Earthgirl anklet ($49), pictured above, which never leaves my ankle, but I couldn't help my addiction to their rings and bracelets as well. Most importantly, I love that I have a special sterling silver piece of jewellery that will stand the test of time to always remind me of that special time in Darwin and all the people who I loved there. It's a brand that is made for girls who feel most at home with their toes in the sand and their heart in the waves.The other brand that has got me all excited is one I have stumbled across since I've been in the outback - I just happened to see something online about Wanderer Bracelets and I loved the idea behind them so much that I wanted to share them with you guys. A perfect gift for any traveller, or something special for yourself - I actually bought myself these two bracelets as a Christmas present and something to celebrate my year of travelling solo. The initiative was started up by a guy called Ben who quit his job, sold everything and moved to Bali in his twenties - a guy after my own heart! Driving up into a jungle village one day, he met Made and his neighbours who were incredible artists but didn't make enough to support their families. Their partnership sparked an international movement which sees them selling the bracelets to people all over the world. They are supporting an entire community while creating jewellery out of white buffalo bone - an all-natural sustainable source which also helps fight the ivory trade. All amazing reasons to support such a fantastic business. But even more special, you can get a bracelet engraved with custom coordinates of a place that is special to you - for me, it was the coordinates of my home in Norfolk, UK. It's something special that will always mean that my heart is where my family and friends are at home, even if I'm the other side of the world. As I said, a perfect gift for a traveller and so affordable at around $22 each. And I couldn't resist getting the mermaid tail bracelet to go with it, because let's face it, I'm definitely a mermaid. A perfect brand for travelling souls that know their heart will always remain firmly at home.
What do you think of travelling fashion - are you all about the tie-dye and elephant pants or do you prefer something more formal? Have you found any great boho jewellery ranges? What do you prefer as a memento of your travelling times?