Of course, some state travel sites and local antique dealer associations offer similar help, as do sites such as AntiqueMalls.com. And I Antique Online offers some shopping directories too. But this currently mostly Midwest network of antique shops by state often makes it easier to start. Plus, each of the state sites has a FaceBook Page as well, which is especially nice for connecting to antique shops in your area. (The shops that have FaceBook pages, anyway.)
Since the shops must pay for placement at these sites, it’s a good idea to always ask the antique store staff what other antique shops are nearby as well as grab the other literature found in the shops so that you won’t miss anything.
The summer selling season was over. This year seemed consumed with flea and antique markets, plus we conducted more estate sales for clients than any other summer. We felt the need to relax.
Pick: How about a week in Florida, it’s warm and beaches are empty. Our choice is always to go in early fall. It proves to be a great time to go, when summer travelers are back home, children return to school and the arrival of Snow Birds is still a month or more away.
Grin: And the great seafood restaurants will not be crowded. Plus we could drive and shop along the way.
Pick: Do we ever go anywhere without stopping & antique shopping?
Grin: Not since you forced me into marriage, 40 odd years ago.
Pick: Well, yes, It has been 40 odd years. You plan the route down and I’ll make arrangement to rent a condo for the week.
And so I started by digging out the “Travel Guide to Antique Shops & Malls” published by Antique Week, which came with our subscription of their weekly newspaper. Our plan was to take a route we had not traveled “to see what we could see.” I also had their phone app, downloaded to my I-Phone.
Pick: I searched for a rental in Redington Shores, at a complex we already knew from a previous visit. I was set to start looking at “a route less traveled”, at least by us. With the help of a real paper map of the eastern half of the US and the section maps photo copied form the Antique Travel Guide, all laid out on a table, we went about trying to create a list of malls and shops to find the greatest treasure of the century, our Monet Moment.
The A.W. Travel Guide provides listings of stores by sections of the states, on our chosen route, along with informative advertising for each store in alphabetical order by city. I did find the copies of the section maps I photo copied somewhat difficult to page together, and align to my route, so I used a big folding map to highlight our total route and selected shops we wanted to visit along the way.
I must tell you, it is the phone app that was most impressive. Easy to use and free to download, it conveniently offers a very simple set of screens that allow you to select the radius in miles for your search, up to twenty-five miles distance. All stores registered in that distance are shown, and with a few clicks you will see each stores listing and the distance and direction from present your location.
Select a shop and the address and phone number comes up. That phone number can save you from traveling to a store on their day off or after hours. The next screen is a map of the store location and travel time. Touch the address on screen and a route map comes up. How cool is that? All this to decide whether a detour from your route is in your best interest, or continue on with your original route plan.
From our experience, the shop owners or staff of stores listed in the guide deserved our visits. All were well run shops, clean and well stocked, with staff helpful in finding and showing items we were looking to purchase. They listened to our stories of the hunt and shared their insight on what is selling in their area and the general condition of the antique market. Oh! And we were told where to get the best lunch in town, and the next shop we should not pass up.
Did the guide and phone app prove successful in finding great antiques? Well, our trip home was hastened by the fact that we could only buy stir sticks, nothing else would fit in the back of our van.
I spotted this clever display at an antique mall and I thought it would be great for use in the home too: a simple vintage wall shelf, with the vintage postcards in the little spaces for knick knacks — the vases and glassware keep the postcards upright.
Wouldn’t it be great to pair travel postcards with little travel souvenirs? It would be like a 3D scrapbook that everyone could see!
Of course, you don’t have to be limited to postcards or travel items; any ephemera of a similar size would work. Antique trade and advertising cards paired with related smalls; vintage paper and fabric bookmarks with metal bookmarks; baseball cards with signed baseballs in cases — nearly endless ideas!
(I would advocate placing the postcards and other ephemera inside those firm plastic sleeves first, to keep them protected.)
I remember luggage from the old movies. Big trunks, body size standing up and deep enough for a couple of bodies. Inside were drawers and a full closet with a mirror.
When I started planning for my first big trip as a kid I wanted one of those. My Mother and I went shopping for my first luggage (of my own!) I was looking for one of those big trunks. Even though I had no idea how I would cart that trunk around on my own, I was already having the adventure of planning everything I would pack into it!
I didn’t find a big trunk. But I wasn’t disappointed. I got a new suitcase, vintage 1970’s, blue, with tiny wheels. Mine was pretty plain and practical, none of those handles that extend out, no extra pockets on the outside to stash secret treasures or books to read. It’s long gone now. On some kind of trip of it’s own I guess.
Later, I wanted a suitcase like my Grandmother’s. It was plain brown with a broken handle. It’s only real charm were stickers from all kinds of places. I don’t know if she had been to all of them herself or if some came from other family and she kept adding to them that way. I do know that she came from Ireland as a young woman and went out to BC as a married women with her husband and children. After that she moved back to Ontario again, when I was already born or at least heading that way.
We went on family trips, sometimes my Grandmother took trips with us. I never noticed her getting stickers for that suitcase then, but I was just a kid. There was a lot I didn’t notice and a lot I did notice. We were in dozens of US states up and down starting from Ontario and ending up back there eventually. We took drives out to BC in a big, huge camper which we delivered to Red Deer, Alberta and then took the train the rest of the way. She may have added more stickers to that suitcase all along the way.
She’s been gone awhile now. I don’t know where the suitcase is. I never would have dared to go looking through her things, it just wasn’t something I would have felt right to do and I know she liked to have her things left alone. I don’t have any truly firm beliefs about what happens after we die. But, if we get to choose I think my Grandma would be keeping up with what we are doing and yet, I hope, she takes a few road trips too. Pack up her suitcase with the essentials and enjoy her sense of adventure forever.
Thinking of taking a family vacation by car this year so you can go antiquing along the way? Getting there is half the fun — or at least half the story you and the kids remember (complain about?) years later. Below are 10 tips for creating a great family road trip — with a heavy emphasis on journaling or scrapbooking to preserve your memories.
A quick word about my emphasis on actively collecting souvenirs and journaling (or blogging) during the trip: It’s an excellent way to provide each member of the family with some much-needed “down time” and individual attention. It slows things down, allows events to be savored more “in the moment, “which makes for much better memory building and sharing later.
1. If you have a destination in mind, a place where you’ll be spending some time, call ahead. Not only for a guaranteed hotel or motel reservation, but for antiquing too. Search online and through your saved booklets, fliers, and antiquing publications for antique shops and malls in the area you’ll be visiting. Call to snailmail to verify hours and dates open (some smaller shops may be closed for their own vacation time) and ask them for a list of other shops in the area. (This can be done with any attraction or shopping plans.)
2. Road trip music. Yes, each kid over the age of four will have his and her own individual Mp3 player or other gadget, but I’m talking about shared music for sing-a-longs. Make a “family mixed tape” with each member of the family suggesting a handful of songs to be burned or downloaded to the compilation audio. (I heartily recommend including some Three Dog Night and folk music!)
3. Along with your usual antiquing gear, make sure you have all chargers, cords, memory cards, etc. for your cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, audio players, etc. packed.
4. But don’t only count on your gadgets. You’ll hit places without cell phone service to upload photos, no WiFi spots for travel blogging from the road, etc. So bring along pads of paper or — even better — a few of those blank journals for the family to write diary entries in. Not only is this a way to record in the moment, but you’ll have paper pages for scrapbooking — and nothing beats the feeling of sitting down together and turning the pages to share the memories. Plus you’ll have another family project for when you return home.
5. You’ll want to take photos — lots of photos. Having a few of those disposable film cameras is also nice. Not only as a backup for technology issues, but waiting for the film to be developed and gathering to share the photos is fun too. Plus, younger children you don’t wish to entrust with the care of expensive gadgets can still carry around a camera to take pictures with.
6. Don’t only rely only on GPS; bring actual maps. You can more readily see your options, your spouse or navigator in the shotgun seat can more easily assist you, and paper never hits zones without service bars *wink* Plus, you can mark maps with your own notes and include those pages or panels in your scrapbook. (Including an angrily circled “got lost here!” lol) And isn’t the whole point of vacation to take those roads not traveled?
But Keep It Flexible:
7. Include plenty of time for spontaneous stops. When kids have had enough of each other and the close quarters, take a pit stop to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, or enjoy a roadside treat. Keep whiny and sullen kids entertained by looking ahead on the map to help make decisions or rock picking (especially if you have a rock polisher!).
Even if this means you end up with a destination much closer to home, you’ll all have more fun if your pace and agenda is more relaxed.
8. Speaking of spontaneous souvenir hunts… Challenge or inspire the whole family to collect souvenirs for your travel scrapbook. Along with taking photos, have family members snap-up promotional pieces like brochures and place mats from the places you visited. (Multiple copies are a good idea.)
Other souvenir possibilities can be handmade, such as doodling the huge roadside Paul Bunyan statue, sketching every breakfast, or handwriting a diary page of the silliest things said that day.
9. Take as many of the smaller roads as you can, go through as many smaller cities as you can. Not only is the scenery more beautiful, the speed limits lower (resulting in better gas millage and increased safety), but here’s where you’ll find all the fun — and old — roadside attractions. Don’t fear that this will limit your antique shopping; many of the smaller towns do have antique shops. Heck, you’ll even be able to find local flea markets, farmers markets and even rummage sales this way!
As history-loving’ geeks, we find winding your way through smaller towns also means quaint and interesting local historical societies often many of these are free to visit or have a very small suggested donation. (Note: Purchasing postcards from historical society museums and small attractions helps support them — and your family’s journal of your trip!)
10. Always bring swimsuits. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, it never fails that there will be swimming or some water attraction along the way. Don’t dampen the fun; make sure everyone brings a swimsuit along. And mom, remember those towels!
Scan from a page in one of my vintage scrapbooks (crayon and ephemera glued in).