After 16 hours in the air to Johannesburg, and countless hours spent observing, chatting, and sleeping on each other's shoulders in the WFP caravans across Mozambique & Madagascar, we pretty much consider ourselves travel pros.
We also, of course, packed lots of FEED bags for our journey - some that weren't even launched yet so we could test them out. The one we found ourselves reaching for again and again, as we navigated life on the go, was the Swingpack. It's so slim that we were all able to fit one into our very full suitcases, and the pockets were so perfect for keeping our passports, phones and cameras at the ready.
In honor of the launch of our favorite travel bag, we're sharing a few of Team FEED's travel tips and favorite moments from our journey through southeast Africa this summer.
Lindsey, Senior Marketing Manager
Favorite Moment: "Getting to travel with WFP staff to remote locations where they are overcoming so many obstacles to deliver school meals. Their passion and dedication really inspired me."
Travel Tip: "Making an itinerary for long flights helps 16 hours in the air feel less daunting, and helps make sure I fall asleep and wake up at the optimal time for feeling energized on day one. I made a pretty intense itinerary for my flight from Madagascar to JFK, scheduling work, reading, Netflix and sleep....and then accidentally air dropped it to everyone on my flight. I like to think it was a game-changer for my fellow passengers."
Favorite Moment: Realizing that even though we don't speak the same language, we could all still communicate with the kids through the international language of thumbs up and peace signs.
Travel Tip: "Pack light! When you are on the road, you want to make it easy to pick up and travel to new locations. I don't like to have a lot on me during the day either - just the essentials. Hence, the Swingpack is a perfect choice!"
Nico, Director of Finance
Favorite Moment: "Playing soccer with the kids in their school yard, outside of Tete. They were so enthusiastic and excited."
Travel Tip: "Always roll your pants, never fold them."
Lauren, CEO & Founder
Favorite Moment: "Hard to pick just one, so I am going to say three. One was traveling with the whole FEED team to experience our giving. I loved our conversations in the long car rides and over dinner every night. Second, was playing with kids at the schools we were able to visit. After they all received their school lunch, the kids' energy levels were much higher. They'd start to mimic what we would do, so singing songs like "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" became really engaging. And third, I loved shopping in local markets in Mozambique and Madagascar for unique, handcrafted FEED Finds that are now for sale in our store in Brooklyn (and soon to be online in our Holiday Gift Guide)."
Travel Tip: "A good travel pillow with optimal neck support, a back-up battery pack, large pouches to keep things organized (I packed FEED's oversized animal pouches of course), and a good crossbody bag (like the Swingpack). We were on the go non-stop for almost two weeks, so without these items, the journey would have been more difficult."
Jen, Production Manager
Favorite Moment: "After spending the afternoon with the kids, a boy came up to our van as we were about to leave. He asked me to roll down the window and when I did, he asked us to come back the next day so he and his family could cook us Frango (a chicken dish in MZ). I was so moved that this child, who was food insecure and dependent on WFP school meals daily, wanted to share the little he had with us. I will never forget that moment. It was a beautiful reminder of the good nature that is innate in most people. I will carry that with me forever."
Travel Tip: "A great travel pillow is a must! I packed two - a compact one to beef up the pillow game at hotels, and an inflatable pillow, which saved me on the long flights and car rides. It is my new favorite travel accessory and I use it shamelessly."
Megan, Marketing Coordinator
Favorite Moment: "Playing patty cake with some of the younger kids at the second school we visited in Mozambique. They were a little unsure at first and nervous because we couldn't actually communicate, but they caught on and soon there was a crowd of little hands being held up around me, wanting to clap and play and learn."
Travel Tip: "Two things. First, layers!! Maybe it's just me, but I am always cold. The plane is freezing, after a few hours in air conditioning, cars are freezing, hotel rooms are freezing. In any climate, I always pack tons of layers. And don't forget the layers for your feet, aka fuzzy, winter socks, for the plane. Secondly, a daily bag that's easily packed and that has a lot of secure pockets to keep your passport, phone, wallet on you and close by. The Swingpack is perfect for this."
Sarah, Graphic Designer
Favorite Moment: "Visiting the schools and having the chance to interact and play with the kids. It was so awesome to see that even without a common language we could still bond through dance or games. Kids will be kids anywhere."
Travel Tip: "Don't bring too much stuff!! Also, make sure you are familiar with your airline's luggage restrictions to ensure check-ins go as smoothly as possible - especially with small regional flights."
Kristina, Vice President, General Manager
Favorite Moment: "Getting to see firsthand the impact that FEED has made in children's lives around the world and sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with the entire FEED team."
Travel Tip: "Don't judge me! My must-have item for our 16 hour journey was an inflatable foot rest - it made SUCH a difference for me."
Melissa, Senior Sales Manager
Favorite Moment: "My favorite part of the trip was seeing the schools and spending time with the kids. They were full of so much energy and job, it was so incredible to see what an impact the school feeding program has."
Travel Tip: "I try to always travel with a sleep mask. There always seems to be some sort of light on during flights (even night flights), so this is the best way for me to get some sleep."
Kirby, Art Director
Favorite Moment: "Of course my favorite, favorite moment was engaging with the kids and seeing their smiling faces running towards us when we pulled up in the WFP van. But as FEED's art director, I have to add that creating the stunning content that came out of this trip, working with our photographer and videographer to capture the beauty of the people and the landscape, was unlike any experience I've ever had. It was so incredibly rewarding, especially now that we've seen everything we created."
Travel Tip: "Advil. PM. That is all. Beyond that, for traveling around from place to place, a crossbody bag is key. Especially since I was often holding lenses or helping our videographer with the video equipment, I needed my hands free, but my essential items like my phone and passport nearby. The Swingpack is so light you can barely feel it. As a bonus, the colors look great with almost any look."
Sarah, Kristina, Emily, Jen and Stef in a school yard in Mozambique.
Lindsey, standing by a jumper plane in Madagascar.
There were a LOT of FEED 1 Bags on this trip - this one is Megan's, all packed up and ready to go at JFK on the morning we departed.
Lauren dancing with kids in Mozambique (notice the FEED 1, told ya we brought a lot of them).
Melissa bonding with a student at our second school visit in Mozambique.
Emily, connecting with peace signs. The kids absolutley loved seeing photos of themselves and taking selfies, it's something they don't get to experience often, or at all.
Lauren and Lindsey, walking in Madagascar.