Create your own travel memories

Re-create vacation memories with sensory reminders (Image by Royalty-Free/Corbis)Not all vacation memories come in the form of photo snapshots. Not all souvenirs are found in gift shops. You can establish your own souvenirs of your vacation or weekend getaway by re-creating and re-stimulating the senses.

I just returned from a weekend escape at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California. It was an all-too-quick, but wonderful little getaway – a change of scenery, simply to relax and recharge. I didn’t book any expensive spa treatments and I didn’t take out my frustrations on a golf ball. But I wanted to remember those relaxing “ah” moments. Through my travels, I have found the best way to do that is to bring back little sensory mementos.

Even maps and brochures can bring back vacation feelings

Sight. Obviously all the photos, videos, brochures, postcards will bring back those great vacation feelings immediately. Just upload all the images to your computer and push play. The brochures, maps and cards you picked up at the concierge desk will fill in the blanks if you want to refresh details about your visit. Even my hotel site map from my weekend will bring back some pleasant thoughts of our gorgeous morning walks along the gardens, golf course fairways, tennis courts, spa and playground. Another ideas: Get creative. Remember the way your towels were arranged or folded in your hotel room? You can do the same in your guest bath at home. Like a gallery print from the lobby? You can undoubtedly find one very similar online for your home. Sometimes just simply arranging your seashells in a clear vase or desk lamp pedestal will send you back to your getaway.

Sound. This is a good memory jogger. Most people will remember old songs then recall the accompanying circumstances and situations linked to those songs. On our first night of our Rancho Mirage weekend getaway, we heard a really nice Fireside Lounge performer, Michael Keeth. His music put us into one of those “please-suspend-this-moment-in-time” mind frames. We were perfectly content to listen to the acoustic guitar music while sipping our drinks. We didn’t want to leave. But we were able to get one his CDs. Now we have musical reminders of that wonderful evening.

Candles, soap, lotions are perfect souvenirs

Smell. So many fragrant plants and flowers surround the gardens and golf course at the Westin Mission Hills. Sometime I may want to re-capture that same fantastic aroma to recall a garden walk or morning breeze on the balcony. So I’ll do a little research: identify the origins of those scents and purchase them to enjoy later. Taking home the complimentary hotel hand and body lotions will produce a similar, less dramatic reaction. The same fragrances will remind me of an extra long vacation shower or a bubble bath soak. I like Westin’s fresh White Tea Aloe bath and body collection, so I’ll use it during the hectic work week. The fragrance alone will send me back to my October getaway weekend at the Mission Hills. Other suggestions: buy a candle, sachet, spray or diffuser oil from your spa resort to put in your office. What a great instant de-stressor!

Taste. Ever have such a fantastic dinner — you just had to have the recipe? Just make a simple inquiry. Many chefs will share their most requested dishes, and many bartenders will be happy share their signature drinks. Or if you like experimenting in the kitchen, just try to re-create the dish at home. Investigate possibilities of bringing back or shipping regional delicacies. Check resort websites for posted recipes or online booksellers for cookbooks. It would be nice idea to again share that special honeymoon vacation dinner on your anniversary.

Find resort bedding in online catalogs

Touch. No, I’m not recommending packing up hotel towels or bathrobes. But an increasing number of lodging brands offer linens, bathrobes and other merchandise to guests through a “home collection” catalog or website. Westin, Marriott and Hilton all do. Then you can order that big thirsty bath sheet or snuggly duvet cover for your own home.

Going forward, I’m going to strive to be creative about ways to bring home vacation memories — no more wasting money on cheesy key chains, refrigerator magnets or shot glasses!

Find AzGetawayTravel.com on Twitter and Facebook.

One-stop shopping at Globe’s Pickle Barrel Trading Post

Pickle Barrel Trading Post's array of metal flowers

I’ve found it. I found the perfect place to buy everything you thought you could never find, never needed or for that matter — never even knew existed — it’s the Pickle Barrel Trading Post in Globe. Probably some of you already are familiar with the Pickle Barrel, but to those of you who haven’t yet been there, please don’t miss it. It’s a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

From the street, this historic Globe tourism icon holds a prime shopping property on Broad Street, a concrete-blocked, corrugated-roofed reminder of a bustling, booming mining town. At first, the building seems out of place on the perimeter of the historic downtown area, but when you drive around to the front entrance of the store, it’s clear why Pickle Barrel is a popular shopping destination.

Metal Petal: A perfectly planted flower bed at Pickle Barrel Trading Post

If, after “antiquing” through the whatnot shops of Globe and the this-n-that stores of Miami, and you still haven’t found that special something, you may locate it at Pickle Barrel. Upon arrival, stroll through gardens of ornamental metal and wood: copper, bronze and wrought iron sculptures. Every imaginable kind of lawn decor is found here. Fountains, planters, gazing balls and weather vanes make up a kind of obstacle course for an entire colony of soldered metal ants, spiders, scorpions and butterflies. Don’t worry there’s a path up to the entrance, so you’ll be safe.

Pendleton blankets and pillows at Pickle Barrel Trading PostAfter stepping inside the Pickle Barrel, you immediately get the sense that this store is indeed a forum for ‘deal hunting.’ It’s all worlds of imaginable shopping combined: second hand merchant, gift boutique, antique mall, attic storeroom, furniture gallery, general store, Indian trading post, Southwest-Mexican art barn, Arizona souvenir shop, bargain basement and flea market.

Rock and gem display case at Pickle Barrel Trading Post

Take your time to look. If you glance around too quickly at all the merchandise you’ll get what’s known as “shopper’s eyestrain” – the pain acquired when one’s eyes constantly focus and refocus, moving from close objects to faraway objects. And I’d recommend bringing keeping your cell phone in close range in case your spouse gets sidetracked and decides to explore the opposite side of the building. There are so many nooks and crannies, kiosks, display cases and shelving units, it’s easy to get lost. You’ll find a full range of merchandise: from those items you see practically everywhere – like Leanin’ Tree greeting cards, to other items harder to find – like antique beer and “fillin’ station” signs. Please be warned of the effects serendipitous shopping has on your wallet.

Fedora or 10-gallon, felt or straw - Pickle Barrel has hundreds of hats

I would recommend Pickle Barrel Trading Post to any Arizonan – full-time resident, winter visitor or regular tourist — and anyone doing some early Christmas shopping for those ” folks back home,” because you’ll find gifts and souvenir favorites such as turquoise jewelry, silver belt buckles, Bolo ties and Red Rock landscapes. Everything that can be manufactured and marketed that defines Arizona or the Southwest can be found at the Pickle Barrel. And then some.

A saddle or skull from Pickle Barrel will round out your decor

Note: Pickle Barrel allows shoppers to bring in their “well-behaved pets,” so you don’t have to leave the pooch at home. Pickle Barrel Trading Post is open daily except Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Find AzGetawayTravel.com on Twitter and Facebook.