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Simple Must-Have Travel Items from a Travel Founder

Hey there! I’m Tara, the founder of Conscious Travel Collective. I’ve not only worked in travel for years, but I've loved to travel since forever! Along the years I’ve picked up some simple, tried and tested items that make travel easier and more enjoyable for me. There are just a few things that I don’t ever skip in my packing list and I want to share these with YOU!

Read to the end for some Bonus tips from my 67 year old mom!

Tara posing in front of wines at a vineyard in Catalonia Spain
Tara in Spain for a travel convention with the canvas laptop bag she's used for 10+ years (thanks to good packing) and the waterproof jacket she just bought before a hike a few days earlier (thanks for poor packing) The lesson is with every trip we learn something about how to pack better!

Travel Item #1 - A backpack purse

I always always have a backpack purse! It’s such a versatile item for storing all of my critical items.

Why a backpack “purse”, and not a backpack?

Fair question! I make this differentiation because of the size, and functionality. Tiny little cafes in Europe (or NYC for that matter) aren’t great for having a bulky backpack in tow. Plus, the bigger they are, the more likely you are to fill them up, and that gets heavy, leading to exhaustion, and you don’t want that on your holiday! I like the designs they are trying to be purse like for when I’m going to a nice restaurant, or dressing up, my bag still fits my overall presentation, and I don’t have a super casual bag with a nicer outfit.

*Important note – I bring more than one bag to use once I've arrived. I will also bring along another bag for my laptop (again something not too big) and a little reusable, compact bag for shopping that can live in my purse. Since I often work while I travel, I like the laptop bag as a separate item, in order to allow for my backpack purse to be small. Since my laptop and cords won’t fit in the purse, I bring a second bag that rolls up when not in use.

What do I look for in a backpack purse?

I especially love the bags that have a hidden or secure space for items I want to keep extra safe, a little pocket that’s inaccessible from the outside, so I’m not worried about my bag being exposed in crowded areas to potential pit-pockets, etc. That wearing your bag in the front is not a cute look, and doesn’t let me get up close to all the stuff I want to see, which is usually pastries! Plus, when I’m in a teeny tiny bathroom stall and there is no hook to hang a purse, at least I know I, don’t have to place my bag on the floor (gross).

For folks who aren’t looking for a bag that is “purse-like”, you can opt for a small backpack with the hidden pocket, that can be dressed up or dressed down and you’ll be in good shape! I know people who use a fanny pack, and to them I say bravo! Big kudos to y’all. I can’t manage to get my “essential items” reduced down enough for just a fanny pack on most days, but I’ll keep working on it.

Travel Item #2 - Sweatsuit/ lounge clothes

I always have a pair of sweat shorts, and a sweatshirt. If I need to run down to the hotel lobby in a hurry, pop out for a quick coffee or if I’m just lounging around my room, this is such a great item to have on hand.

It really doesn’t take up much space. I tend to travel very light and this is something I am always so glad that I have. Unlike some other things that I only wear once, this is something that I get use of almost daily.

And wouldn’t you know, I’m in my BNB in Italy right now, wearing my sweat shorts and sweatshirt, as I write this blog!

Four men, visible from below their shoulders to above their ankles, each in monocular sweat outfits

Travel Item #3 – An airtight bag

Somehow the suitcase which is very neat and tidy when I leave home, never fits quite as nicely when I’m repacking during travels. The last thing I want to do is haul around an extra bag of stuff that once fit in my luggage. This gets tiresome fast when going from town to town. Luckily, I have a tool for just this occasion!

I like to keep an airtight bag in my luggage (no, I don’t start with anything in it because that would defeat the purpose of making more space later). I’ll pull this out when things get messy and I need to gain a few inches in my bag. I can squeeze a little bit of extra room and make sure my zippers don’t bust.

When does this come in handy?

There are lots of time when you might want to buy a little extra space. Currently I am traveling during a tricky time as far as packing is concerned since it’s between the seasons of spring, and summer. I have a few items I’ve been wearing for the colder days that I probably won’t need for the next few days so it’s great to have an airtight bag I can place these items.

A few different brands make bags that can be rolled, and sealed to pull all the air from the bag, creating a lot of space. (Be careful not to get a bag that’s too big, otherwise it can get really heavy and create a new problem for you)

Another time to pull out a compression bag is at the end of trip. Toss in all your dirty laundry, zip it up, and make room for something to bring home! I’ll be coming home with local Olive oil and local sea salt that I wouldn’t have had room for if not for those extra inches.

Conscious Travel Collective designs immersive travel for small groups who want to experience travel through the eyes of locals, and seek to meet their hosts from a place of reciprocity, for an exchange that’s meaningful and authentic!

For more on our approach to travel or to schedule a complimentary discovery call, connect with us here

Travel Item #4 – A little bit of laundry soap