Seaglass, Shells, Seeds and Fossils. What to Collect while Traveling?
I've met a lot of folks who keep collections of things they pick up while traveling. It may be airport souvenirs, mementos or sometimes a very particular thing, like face masks or statuettes or tea cups. My experience is that the habit forces travelers to spend time searching for something they then have to pack in their luggage - the collection becomes a crutch.
I gave up collecting anything in particular a long time ago, and instead, Instead, I keep just two boxes of items I collect while traveling. All of these items are free, can be found anywhere in the world, and are very educational, especially once you start to explore the details of their existence.
From time to time, I'll pull one of the two boxes out and look through them with my son, whose questions sometimes force me to learn more about what exactly it is.
One box is labeled Native Artifacts, and the other Natural History. For me, this is a great setup, because it allows me to collect whatever I want and still have it fall into a general category of collection. It doesn't force me to collect anything in particular while traveling, but I can still add any of these items in my pocket just about anywhere I travel.
Native artifacts can include anything from arrowheads and native tools to items such as sea glass.
Natural history includes shells, seeds, seedpods, fossils, agates, thundereggs, dried crustaceans, pressed flowers and so forth. It should be said that many types of native artifacts are illegal to collect because they disturb potential archaeological sites. Many natural history items, such as living invertebrates or corals, should never be collected, and picking anything alive, including flowers, should be done carefully. I usually only pick live flowers on roadsides.
Collecting a few shells is, on its own, not all that rewarding. But building a habit of collecting related items over time actually teaches me a lot about those items. Here is a sampling from my small Natural History collection:
All fuzzy pink sombreros and eiffel tower statuettes eventually find their way to the garbage can. But a collection of unique artifacts and specimens is free, beautiful, unique and will entertain and educate for a lifetime. What do you collect while on the road? Let me know your thoughts on Facebook.