As a designer, you can live in fear of the words "we are going on vacation and thought we would pick up a few things for the house." Shopping while travelling can be a great thing or a tragedy, often time what looks great in a store in Venice, when you get it home , looks like a garish souvenir. So, while I am a big fan of personalizing your home with things that you collect on your travels, I hope that these few pointers will help to avoid mistakes:
- Make a list of the things that you need, whether it be a cabinet or something for the shelves in the Living Room, good planning will always help.
- MEASURE! Be sure to take measurements before you leave, especially if you are buying for a specific place. Things have a way of distorting, when you are away. It is a great idea to carry a small measuring tape with you, as you may be travelling in a country that is in metric and don't rely on your own conversions.
- Take snap shots of the locations you have in mind. It will help you imagine what the piece will look like when you get it home. Maybe even bring some swatches of fabric with you too.
- Look into shippers before you leave. There are several large carriers that will pick up directly from the store and deliver it to your door, taking care of packing, shipping customs etc. This can relieve hours of red tape and stress on your behalf. I have used a company called Hedley's Humpers (http://www.hedleyshumpers.com/ ) several times throughout Europe and have nothing but good things to say. Once again though, plan ahead and contact them before you leave.
- Do your homework before you leave. Find out where the Antique districts are in the areas you are going to visit (competition in these areas often leads to better pricing), also store opening days and times can be somewhat erratic.
Most of all have a great time, shopping abroad can be a huge adventure!