The Trips and Tips That Inspired These Designers’ Excellent Travel Bags

They created their Kickstarter projects because they love to explore, so naturally they have some great advice for fellow adventurers.

Jake Orak (right) with master weaver Shamji and facilitators Pankaj and Meena in Bhuj, India.

Several of this month’s standout Kickstarter Design projects are travel bags made by peripatetic creators. Their passion for adventure inspired projects that support international artisan communities, source sustainable materials, and help on-the-go creatives have amazing trips. So we asked some of them — Adam Saraceno from Peak Design, Fabian Stein from WAYKS, and Jake Orak from Ethnotek — about their favorite travel experiences and tips for hitting the road.

Peak Design’s Adam Saraceno Doesn’t Sweat Planning

Peak Design has launched eight camera-carrying projects on Kickstarter. The Travel Line backpack is the team’s first foray into travel-specific products, but it fits with the simple utilitarian vision that’s always been close to their hearts: help photographers take their gear on the go.

Whether you’re at home or abroad, great photography often demands spontaneity. That’s why Peak Design makes products that help you carry all your gear and have it handy — fast — when you spot a great shot. That affinity for spontaneity is also probably why Adam Saraceno eschews detailed planning when he travels. “The best trips often have the least amount of preplanning,” he says. “Winging it can be super rewarding.”

There’s a crucial difference between planning and preparing, though. Saraceno doesn’t make an itinerary for every hour of his day, but he’s learned to go into travel experiences with some rudimentary understanding of the culture. He’s found it particularly helpful in his favorite destination, Japan. “I’ve learned that making an effort to learn the local language goes a long, long way,” he says. “Folks appreciate you taking an interest in their culture, and you’ll radically improve your ability to connect with people. Learn ‘hello,’ ‘nice to meet you,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘sorry,’ ‘cheers,’ and, if you can, whatever the local slang is for ‘awesome.’”

Winging it also gives Saraceno more opportunities to switch up his schedule, take care of himself, and squeeze in some extra time at air-conditioned bars. “I’m a sweaty guy, and when I go somewhere warm, I sweat. Frequent pub stops makes it more tolerable.”

The Travel Line is live on Kickstarter through September 20, 2018.

WAYKS Cofounder Fabian Stein Packs Light, Travels Slow

The siblings behind WAYKS, Fabian and Leonie Stein, wanted to make a travel bag that takes some of the pain out of packing and unpacking on the road — “especially when you’re checking in and out frequently,” says Fabian. The WAYKS ONE travel backpack’s modular design can morph to fit every part of your adventure. Sling it around as a slim daypack, tote your camera or lunch in the “cube,” or zip the pieces together into full-size luggage. And all the adaptable parts have plenty of well-placed pockets and pouches.

But while many design products, especially those aimed at travel, focus on getting more done, Fabian says he hopes the WAYKS ONE can help travelers slow down. His favorite vacation was a campervan road trip through western Australia; it taught him not to rush through experiences. “There are so many great places to see, so many things to tick off the bucket list, but it really just spoils the experience if you rush from one spot to the next. If you find a nice place or meet lovely people, allow yourself to hang around a bit longer. Pack light and smart to stay flexible.”

He adds, “I used to overpack, but over the years I really learned how to downsize, and now everything I take fits into the WAYKS ONE.”

WAYKS ONE is live on Kickstarter through October 3, 2018.

Ethnotek Cofounder Jake Orak Explains the Art of ‘No’

The husband and wife team behind Ethnotek, Jake and Cori Orak, have made a mission of sourcing artisan textiles from villages across Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. After the success of their first backpack project, they’ve returned to Kickstarter with ETK OPTIKS, a camera bag with a variety of decorative front panels that you can switch out to fit your mood, outfit, or adventure.

The artisan-focused product line gives the Oraks plenty of opportunities to work with craftspeople and merchants around the world. Along the way, Jake picked up a valuable piece of advice on how to say no to persistent street vendors — a skill he’s put to good use in his favorite travel destination, India.

“A local told me that if someone keeps asking or pushing you to buy something, give them money, or come to their shop, simply place your hand on their shoulder and say ‘no’ with a smile and a calm tone. It works immediately. Every time, I receive a simple head bob and smile, and they casually move on. The friend told me that it’s the touch that bridges the physical barrier. Eye contact, a smile, and a soft tone shows seriousness in a non-threatening way. And the simple ‘no’ makes it clear that you aren’t interested. I’ve tried it in other countries, but it only seems to work in India so far.”

ETK OPTIKS is live on Kickstarter through October 13, 2018.

Katheryn Thayer

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