Female Adventurer and TV Producer Tara Foster Shares Her Best Packing Tips

Adventurer Tara Foster

Hey guys! I’m Tara and I’m a TV Producer by trade. I’m an American by birth and Australian by choice! Right now, I’m travelling around Europe! I’m a massive fan of travel and consider it one of my hobbies! I also like to write the crazy stories about my life on my blog Taraustralis.com.

I’m a pretty laid back person who is moderately chilled out about things. I think travel has calmed me a lot because you gotta be really accepting of different cultures and personalities when you’re travelling on your own.

Adventurer Tara Foster

How and why did you get into traveling?

Oh Travel! How did I start? Well, I remember only going on one holiday with my parents in 1988 to Disney world and that was the first and last time we ever went on a holiday together. My parents just weren’t that into travel and at the time, I didn’t know that I would be into travel as much as I am now.

Then, when I was a little older, I went to Spain for two weeks over summer with my high school Spanish class. Since we were together as a group, I wasn’t really immersed into travel and culture as much as I am now. But, this was a great start to get me going.

I then went a semester abroad to London. That was an interesting experience because I was still pretty shy. But, I think that really sealed the travelling bug for me is when booked flights to Australia. I had a lot going on in my life at the time and really needed a change of scenery, so I bought a return ticket to Australia and became a solo traveller. The flight from the USA to Australia became a total life changer because the guy sitting next to me offered me a job in Sydney, Australia. I literally signed my life away on a serviette on a Qantas flight somewhere over the Pacific.

Australia was such a fresh and new territory, I just wanted to explore.. and then I started to go to even cooler places and do cooler things! I’ve traveled around Australia exploring the outback… went across America 44 days in a van where and I basically flipped the seats down and built a bed in the back at the carpark of the home improvement store. I’ve also been lost in the muddy jungles of Borneo and just recently bicycled around Ireland for three months as a non-cyclist. I was just a girl who wanted to go on an adventure, but the only difference with the one was, I brought the social media audience with me by using my social media channels and the hashtag #AroundIrelandOnAPushie!

Adventurer Tara Foster

How do you prepare for your adventures?

I don’t really prepare for my adventures. “Pushie” is the only adventure I really prepared for because with “Pushie” I actually had to train. I was not fit at all and I was scared to death to cycle alone in Ireland, but knew I could do it with proper prep and training.

As for other adventures, I pretty much wing it. I find cheap flights, a few nice hostels and I just go. I hardly do any research because I find that sometimes it ruins the adventure. I just go, talk to the locals and let it all unfold in front of me. Whilst I was in Estonia, I went walking around and at around lunch time I found the visitors centre. They had a tour in about 15 minutes and I had the time, so I said, ‘why not!’ Normally, I’d never do a walking tour because it’s not really my thing, but this accidental mistake was one of the best ones I have ever made because the tour guide was amazing!

I don’t really read books but I do surf the web a lot and ask questions on Twitter. As for gear, I’m a MASSIVE fan of my backpack! I seriously hate rolling bags. They’re a pain and they hurt your wrists. I also recommend getting those soft packing cells to section off your clothes. It’s just easier to grab the red cell because you know it’s got clean shirts, or the green cell because it’s got toiletries. I’ve got a bunch of them. Also, you don’t need to buy them.. a lot of companies or when you go to an event give out small bags that work just as well. I’m a massive fan of them!

I kinda just travel anywhere I feel like. This year was an interesting one because it was the year of couch surfing for me. I met so many people on my travels that I spent most of this year on people’s couches in far flung regions of Europe. What I like about this is, you get to see what they see from their point of view. You wont get that on a bus tour.

Adventurer Tara Foster

How do you finance your travels?

I get this question a lot. And I gotta say, anyone can travel.. it just depends on what your level of comfort is. I’m an extremely low budget traveller and I am not flashy at all. For example, I slept on a polish sheepskin named Steve on the floor of a castle in Claregalway. Seriously. That night, I paid nothing for accommodation.

Another friend of mine who lives in Germany needed a house sitter for ten days, so his sister came by and gave me the keys and I had free accommodation. I just needed to bring in the mail and not burn the house down. I also have no shame in staying in hostels. There’s a lot of really awesome ones out there and this is where I meet a bulk a really cool like-minded travellers. I also feel much safer staying in a hostel than in dodgy cheap motel. So, mostly my money goes on food. Sometimes, people out of the goodness of their heart offer me meals, too. Sometimes, I get the occasional adventure if I just write about it – but that’s pretty rare.

The most expensive part of travel for me would have to be the flights. Flying to and from Australia can cost an absolute BOMB, but there are sneaky ways to get around it. A lot of credit cards offer points, so I just play the game.. get the card, do whatever I need to do to get the points and then cancel the card. It’s very important not to acquire debt.

I also sublet my room back home out, too, so I don’t have to pay rent whilst I’m somewhere else in the world. It’s really just one big win!

Adventurer Tara Foster

Why is traveling important for you?

Travel is one of those things that you never really know what you’re going to get yourself into until you’re already there. I think it’s so important to see how the rest of the world lives…. to immense ourselves in their culture and to learn as much as we can.

Travel puts life in perspective. Like when we travel, we experience and meet so many people along the way. Travel gets us out of our comfort zones, and makes us try new things and ask questions. We are able to take these new experiences back home (wherever that may be) and make it a better place.

Adventurer Tara Foster

How do you bring your things with you?

I don’t. That’s the finny bit. After #AroundIrelandOnAPushie, I learnt how to pack incredibly light. “Pushie” forced me to pack light because I had to take three months of clothes and pack them into two tiny panniers. I just had no choice. I remember packing unpacking and repacking. It was a terribly stressful time doing that and worrying that I might not have enough clothes for Ireland. I think my friends were worried more for me, but I got there and everything I had with me was perfect! I actually think I overpacked a bit on that adventure! I could have cut back the five yoga pants to just two and also ditched the black gloves because they were too small for my hands, anyway.

For the bicycling adventure, I used two OverBoard bags and they were PERFECT! For normal backpacking around Europe or the jungle, I have my trusty green Deuter bag. I also have a much smaller Deuter bag for shorter visits or when the airline loses your luggage and you still have three weeks of travel and your bags went back to Australia – that’s a true story. The Deuter bags are pretty comfortable for my body type, so that’s why it worked for me.

My advice is, if you start out and have less in your bag.. keep it that way, don’t add more.. because someone somewhere will try and give me something to take back with you.

Adventurer Tara Foster

How do you organize things in your bags?

I just use packing cells to section everything off.. it makes it easier when I’m looking for things. I make sure to tightly roll everything as it makes it way easier for space. I also meticulously go though everything in my bag, and if it doesn’t have a function, it’s gone – it’s just not worth the weight.

I was only interested in waterproof bags when I went to Ireland because I knew that I’d be out in the elements sometimes for six hours cycling around. I actually had a full set of waterproof clothes thanks to Shower Pass and I absolutely swear by their gear.

Backpacks these days usually come with a cover and I’m not really out in the weather long enough to really worry about getting a waterproof bag.

Adventurer Tara Foster

How do your bags and gear hold up?

I’ve had my green bag for over five years, and I haven’t had any issues – believe me, it’s been everywhere, too. The Overboard bags were covered in rubber so they will last well and truly over a lifetime. They even survived when I face planted into a parked car and the bags when flying off the bicycle.

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

I wish I had my solar panel charger again – that got stolen in a hostel but would be great for trekking around. I mostly use my iPhone for photos, so having that solar panel was genius.

These days I’ve got the whole packing thing down pat and I’m really not precious over anything. If I don’t need it, I don’t bring it with me.

Adventurer Tara Foster

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

Oh man.. this is do or die for me – iPhone charger. I once had four. I’ve recently thrown two because they’ve lost their charge but I just invested in another one I recently found at the airport. Mitone MITPP41 – it’s cheap, it’s small and it packs a punch for charging my phone.

I’m also a fan of the Kathmandu packing cells. They’re fairly cheap and last a long time. Or, worst case, you can always use those freebies drawstring bags when you go to events.

What is your best advice for other travelers?

Don’t be shy to talk to people. Don’t be afraid or too snobby to stay in a hostel. And try travelling alone. You’ll surprise yourself. Some of the best adventures I ever had was when I was travelling solo.

Adventurer Tara Foster

What will the future bring?

I’m not really sure what the future brings because I’m really just a girl who likes to ‘wing it.’ I’ve discovered that we don’t choose adventures, adventures choose us, so who knows what will be next. I’m excited to find out.

Visit Tara on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

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