I’ve been itching to get out of dodge for a couple of weeks now. Traveling is one of River’s and my favorite things to do. Even if it is just a little escape to a we haven’t explored yet. We’re working on planning out some trips for this year and I wanted to take the opportunity to share our trip planning process, ways to travel ethically and some of my favorite goodies to bring with me on trips. 

Planning your Trip

Maybe you have a place in mind but not sure when is the best time to travel there. Or maybe you know you want to go somewhere just no idea where! River and I love using Skyscanner to budget and plan for trips. You can plug in a destination and see when is there cheapest time to fly to that destination or you can pick a time you want to travel and see what are the cheapest destinations to get to at that time. Seriously such a cool resource! 

Once you have a destination in mind though always check what the weather is going to be like. Tropical places generally have a rainy season at some point in the year or can have an extremely hot or dry season. Always make sure you thoroughly research past weather trends so you have a general idea of what to expect on your trip and so you can plan accordingly. 

Travel Ethically

I’ve just started to really dive into the topic of traveling ethically. It’s something that I’ve never really thought of before but the impact of travel can be very harsh not only on ourselves but the environment as well. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered from my research on ways to travel ethically. 

1 | Start in your own backyard
You don’t always need to jet across the world to get away. Try exploring in your own neighborhood, city or nearby towns. River and I love to walk on the weekends and explore the different neighborhoods of Portland. Not only are we getting a healthy dose of exercise but by walking or biking we aren’t adding any extra pollution into the air. 

2 | Cut Down Plastic Waste
If traveling within your country pack your own reusable utensils & cups/mugs. According to an article on National Geographic, 8.3 metric tons of plastic has been created in the past 6 decades and it takes 400 years for plastic to degrade. So when you’re traveling and thinking about stopping for a quick bite to eat try using your own utensils or glassware instead of accepting plastic portable options. Bringing your own dinnerware is also great for when you go on picnics! 

3 | Buy Locally
If you didn’t pack a lunch or snacks try to buy all of your meals from local business. Extra bonus points if they source their food locally too! This also goes for buying souvenirs. Try to find something that is made by hand by a local artist. Not only will the piece be unique but it will be something that you treasure for years to come. By supporting small businesses when you travel, you’re continuing to help that community thrive and flourish. 

4 | Stay in AirBnbs, Bed & Breakfasts or Family Owned Establishments
River and I love staying in Airbnbs or small business hotels when we travel because we always feel like we are getting a more local experience. This also ties in with supporting local businesses to further help the economy.  

5 | Do your Research
Before planning any activities do your research on the company to understand their own impact and any steps they are taking to better the environment. This is especially important when it comes to animal activities. In all honesty, River and I failed at this on our trip to Thailand several years ago and definitely went to some parks and “rescues” that were questionable. If we had done a little more research we would have definitely planned some different activities but now we are better prepared for when we go back again someday. 

6 | Volunteer
While looking for activities to do on your vacation also explore ways to volunteer while traveling. Not only is this a great way to give back to the community but can be a wonderful teaching experience for families. 



When packing for a trip the name of the game is keep it light. Here is what I like to bring in my personal item. 

1 | The Bag - I’ve been traveling with my Knapsack by Margaret Hennessey (pictured above) for the past year and love the ease it brings to my travel routine. Having a stylish backpack has been a travel life game changer. I’m able to have both hands free to deal with my carry on or other luggage or that americano that I desperately need for an early morning flight! There is enough room for all of my necessities but not enough room to pack every single thing I own! I feel like people always want as much room as possible in a bag to pack for the unknown. Instead I’m working on planning and being better prepared so that I only bring what I know I’ll truly need. Normally I would like an outside pocket for my travel documents and phone but since this is a backpack I feel much safer having these items inside. If I’m really needed super easy access I will also bring a fanny pack or super small handbag to wear across my front.

Margaret is graciously offering Thoughtful Closet readers $30 off their purchase of $250 or more! Just use code THOUGHTFUL30 at checkout. Be sure to check out the beautiful new colors and styles in her spring collection! Discount ends 3/31

2 | Book - I always always travel with a paperback book. An unforeseen circumstance can always happen to the technology you bring but not much can happen to a paperback book. Unless you decided to poor wine all over it or jump in a large body of water! 

3 | Portable Charger - I always have a portable charger in my bag just in case I can’t access a plug. River and I once spent several hours in a McDonalds over a pile of fries in NYC because our phones were dying and we were meeting up with friends later that night! Ever since then we both have portable chargers :) 

4 | Chapstick - I love this glue like chapstick by La Bruket. It is an organic lip balm, made from mostly bees wax, coconut & almond oils, that helps keep your lips smooth, nourished and protected. 

5 | Wallet - this is an obvious item but here are some ethical wallet options that I particularly love for their compact shape cuyana / the horse / the stowe

6 | Emergency Kit - yes this is so mom mode but I have a small bag that I try to keep with me at all times. It has band aids, medicine, a sewing kit, stain removal stick, Q-tips, an extra little bag for jewelry or other small items I may need to store, sunglasses, extra pairs of contacts, glasses, extra hair ties, hand lotion & some form of breath refresher. For the bag I love the Leather Travel Set by Cuyana. I use the large option for makeup and the smaller one for my emergency kit. 

7 | Snack - I’m trying to cut down on my salt intake when traveling to help prevent that uncomfortable bloating feeling you can sometimes get. So instead of salty snacks I’m opting for fresh fruit or unsalted nuts. 

Now for the luggage. River and I have had our luggage bags for several years now but when the time comes to get a new one here are some responsibly options:

Once you’ve decided on what bag you’re going to be traveling with you need to plan what to actually pack! For this there are several factors that you need to take into consideration:

Length of Trip

I personally like to use the 10x10 Challenge created by Lee from Style Bee to help make sure I pack light and efficiently. For my upcoming trips I’ll go more in depth on how I use this approach to pack but just in case you aren’t familiar with the 10x10 Challenge I explain the process in more detail here

I also include my makeup and personal items in my carry on so they aren’t in the way when I travel. 

SIDENOTE:  make sure to pack any liquids in a clear bag for TSA. Also no matter where you’re flying make sure you check out that airports security. I’ve had some countries that want you to take out any and all electronics in your carry on & personal items and some that have had different liquid volume requirements. Always check these regulations so you don’t have to throw out precious items! 

That is all I have for how to plan your next trip with intention and thought. If you have any upcoming trips that you’re excited about please let me know in the comments down below! 


This post was made in collaboration with the very talented Margaret Hennessey & I received the knapsack as compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions in this article are my own. I decided to work with Margaret because her brand values and process directly align with the values that are instilled in The Thoughtful Closet. Also, some of the links in this post do contain affiliate links. When you shop through those links I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Thoughtful Closet!