It’s a beautiful morning in Edmonds and Petra Rousu’s shop, The Savvy Traveler, is full of customers preparing for their next adventure. Whether they’re off on a European adventure, a relaxing beach vacation, or a more rugged trek, the store is a trove of clever travel accessories and packing essentials.
“We search for new, unique, and practical items that make traveling easier,” said Petra, who started The Savvy Traveler in 1997. Seeing the world has always been Petra’s passion. She started traveling as a teenager growing up in Germany and has been on every type of adventure, from safaris to cruises. To date, she has visited more than 60 countries.
“I was never able to find all my travel needs in one place,” she recalled. So, she was inspired to create a store that is a one-stop shop for clothing, accessories, and luggage. Petra designed it to provide the necessities for traveling in as streamlined and convenient a way as possible, all while keeping an eye on good design. Indeed, many of the products in The Savvy Traveler are both stylish and functional. The large clothing selection is a perfect example. Each item must meet a rigorous set of criteria before it makes into the store, said Alexandra Rousu, Petra’s daughter and the store manager. Every piece, from flirty dresses and sophisticated tunics to versatile tanks and sweaters, or men’s button-downs and pants, must be quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and wrinkle-resistant. The fabrics are polished, but technical, and selected with layering in mind.
“Our clothes can get you just about anywhere, from a day of sightseeing to a fancy restaurant in the evening,” Petra added.
The Savvy Traveler also has a wellstocked luggage section with bags in a range of sizes — all chosen, according to Petra, because they offer the best quality for the best price, blend style, and functionality. Each piece is easy to carry and incorporates a slew of features, including thoughtfully placed pockets, durable material, and even, for select lines, a lifetime guarantee.
The selection of handbags and purses is equally impressive, with a similar emphasis on quality, style, and practicality. Many bags are anti-theft and offer slash-proof straps and zipper keepers that make it difficult for thieves to access your personal belongings in crowded areas.
Petra, Alexandra, and other staff members invite customers to try on clothing and test out bags. That’s an important step when choosing something as essential as luggage, and also an added benefit that sets The Savvy Traveler apart from online retailers. “Retail has changed tremendously over the last few years with the onslaught of choices that are offered to consumers online,” Petra said. But the ability to test out products in person, ask knowledgeable salespersons questions, and shop a selection of products curated for quality are advantages unique to businesses like The Savvy Traveler.
“Specialty stores fill a niche that online retailers and big box stores can’t fill: service and experience,” Petra said. “We help our customers select the right products for their needs. They get expert advice and service.”
This focus on service is evident in the Saturday seminars The Savvy Traveler offers. The store hosts experts in regional travel topics as diverse as Uncharted Peru and Sensuous Southern Italy, as well as language classes. “It is a great way to educate yourself about a country you are considering traveling to,” said Petra.
The Savvy Traveler’s most popular seminar is all about packing. Petra and Alexandra share their expertise on packing smart and light. They help take the worry out of one of the more stressful aspects of travel, while also turning their customers on to the array of ingenious travel accessories they offer. The impressive range of products includes Petra’s favorite, packing cubes, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes to help keep a travel wardrobe organized. “You don’t need to repack,” Alexandra enthused, “just restack. It’s like playing Tetris in your suitcase.”
It’s this sense of fun and adventure that makes The Savvy Traveler not only a practical stop when preparing for a journey, but also a great place for travel inspiration. Petra and Alexandra’s wanderlust is infectious. “It is fun to share our recommendations and outfit our customers for their adventure,” said Petra. “Being an independent store and catering to the special needs of our customers is a very satisfying and rewarding experience.”
112 5th Ave. S., Edmonds, 425.744.6076, savvytraveleredmonds.com