What’s in my travel backpack?
My list of important items in my backpack for international travel to coffee and tea growing regions
One of the joys (and job requirements) as a tea and coffee buyer for Allegro Coffee Company is visiting our suppliers to strengthen our relationships at origin. Oftentimes these trips require lengthy plane and car ride(s) that range between 4 to 48 hours. Thus, we must be prepared to travel healthy, ready to combat or relax into whatever comes our way.
The obvious travel toolkit items
My travel toolkit consists of some pretty obvious items: noise-canceling headphones, eye cover, book, Emergen-C vitamin packets (both the ZZZ’s kind and the Immune System kind), old-lady constricting circulation socks for long plane rides, large scarf/wrap, tea, coffee, translator app, notebook, raincoat, flip-flops, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, Benadryl and/or Dramamine, two small bottles of travel size vodka, and sometimes social focused reading like People/US/Star for quick and easy entertainment.
The not-so-obvious travel toolkit items
Some items in my travel toolkit are not so obvious, and require some explanations:
- Cupping spoons. As a coffee and tea buyer this is our tool to taste the cups of delicious coffee and tea. We taste to evaluate flavor, quality, and potential use. Cupping spoons are silver plated to cool the liquid and also to not impart flavor onto the brew.
- Yoga Toes. Keeping myself centered and spiritually calm is super important during these long trips. There are language challenges, long car rides, food surprises, concerns for the business and the relationship, and sometimes hard conversations. But a calm spirit and honoring each other’s intentions and hard work usually will help get through any challenging situation. Likewise, for me, this daily spiritual practice keeps every day a new adventure.
- Smiles and laughter. This is the easiest way to communicate, especially if there are language barriers. We smile to greet and welcome each other. Laughter creates a lightheartedness in tricky situations and is an opportunity for us to bond.
- An adventurous, learning and sharing spirit. Visiting a new growing region, discovering a new varietal, and exploring a new culture is fascinating to me. It’s hard to put a price tag on learning something new and returning to share with our Allegro teams so they can experience and understand the hard work and efforts it takes to produce our coffee and tea. It can only be experienced.
- Flexibility. Often times we end up in places unexpectedly, for long periods of time and don’t know what will happen next. We just have to settle in and be open to what is in store for the day or the transportation mode that may or may not be working and enjoy each other’s company. Usually, this is where the two bottles of vodka comes in handy.