Traveling is a beautiful thing – it’s good for the soul, good for the mind, and depending on how you travel, good for the body. It challenges beliefs, changes perspectives, keeps us present, and irreparably stretches our mind in response to new, challenging experiences.
From the perfectly planned and executed stay in Paris, to the most unpredictable excursion in Morocco where everything seems to go wrong, it’s beautiful. And while I love travel as much as I do, there’s a somber truth that I believe every traveler has a responsibility to acknowledge – that travel may be good for the individual, but it isn’t for the whole.
Modern day unsustainable travel wreaks havoc on entire populations and environments, leaving destruction in its wake. It’s a major contributor to both climate change and pollution, it destroys local communities, it devastates the delicate ecosystems that are so often the most frequently traveled to, and as a whole, is not good for our planet.
That being said, not all travel is created equal. Unsustainable mass tourism may be terrible, but there are other ways that you can see the world without a heavy carbon footprint and ways that you can offset any negative impact you may have – by traveling sustainably.
One of the most simple and effective ways to travel sustainably is to travel with the right stuff. The gear you bring along with you has a more profound effect than you’d think, so say no to disposable water bottles and yes to reusable alternatives.
Here is my tried-and-true sustainable travel packing list that’ll hopefully help you find ways to be a more eco-friendly traveler!
Finding a traveling backpack, suitcase, or duffle bag that is sustainable or plastic free is virtually impossible. Plastic is just so much cheaper to manufacturer with than natural fiber and is usually a good deal more durable.
But as more and more people become interested in sustainable travel each year, brands are starting to adapt and create products that cater to us, which is fantastic news! That means more consumer choices and less expensive prices – gotta love that.
WITZMAN’s is one of these brands. They make super durable canvas traveler bags that have a somewhat vintage feel to them. They give me Indiana Jones/old school expedition vibes, and I love it.
This 22-inch bag is one of their most popular products, and it’s a convertible backpack that can be turned into a tote bag, a shoulder bag, and a duffel bag. It’s made of high-quality canvas, has a ton of different pockets, and comes with a one-year warranty for the backpack itself and a lifetime warranty for the duffle shoulder strap that comes with it.
(If you’re interested in being even more sustainable, if you can find or repurpose old luggage from garage sales, thrift stores, or even your grandma’s house, DO IT!)
2. Day Bag
You’re gonna need a smaller bag to take with you throughout the day. Ounces add up a fast, and when you’re walking around on your feet all day, you’re not gonna be wanting to lug around your heavy main pack.
I’m partial to small backpacks rather than purses or totes because they are harder to steal and much more comfortable in long hours of use. One of my favorite day bags is Dime Bag’s Original Hemp Backpack.
It’s made of durable hemp fabric, which is one of the most sustainable natural fibers you can buy, that is resistant to tearing, ripping, and all kinds of physical abuse. It is the ideal size for a day pack, and comes built-in with a secret pocket that is perfect for storing debit cards, passports, and anything of value.
3. Toiletries Case
For a brief time when I first began traveling, I didn’t use a toiletry bag and instead opted to throw all of my products into my bag willy-nilly. That didn’t last long. They are a fantastic addition to any traveler’s checklist, and will save you the headache of having to ransack your carefully packed bag just to find your toothpaste. (true story)
This toiletry bag is made of RPET, a recycled fabric made of post-consumer plastic bottles. It has two separate compartments, the bottom which is waterproof and the perfect place to store toothbrushes and other wet items.
4. Packing Cubes
I never travel without packing cubes, whether I’m going on a week-long getaway to Cancun, or a three-month trek throughout Southeast Asia. The longer your trip is, the more you’ll appreciate how helpful packing cubes really are.
They make staying organized 10x easier, make getting something out of the bottom of your bag much less frustrating, and help you utilize all the space your pack has to offer – I can fit a ton more stuff in my backpack when I use packing cubes.
These cubes made by Northern Olive are my favorite. They’re made of 100% organic cotton, are built with a focus on durability, and come with four different sized cubes.
One of the best things about them is the brand that they’re made by. Northern Olive takes sustainability seriously – all of their products are made out of sustainable natural fibers, they plant one tree for every product sold, and they package all of their goods in 100% biodegradable and compostable materials.
5. Zero Waste Deodorant
I consider myself a bit of a zero waste deodorant aficionado. I’m naturally very sweaty, and unfortunately my sweat doesn’t smell like roses, so I’ve tried many, many of them. My favorite used to be Native’s Coconut Vanilla, but as much as I like how well it works and how good it smells, it’s packaged in single-use plastic.
My new go to is Pack & Leaf’s Coconut Vanilla Deoderant. It smells just as good and prevents body odor just as well as Native’s, is packaged in 100% percent compostable material, and is 3.7 fluid ounces, or approximately 4 month supply of deodorant.
6. Solid Shampoo & Conditioner
There’s a ton of reasons to switch to solid shampoo and conditioner – they’re more sustainable, they last longer, they take up less space, they aren’t subject to TSA liquid limits, and they’re easier to carry around while traveling.
HiBAR’s Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner are the ones I use. They’re both packaged and shipped in zero waste materials and my bars typically last me at least 5 months, making them perfect for long-term travel.
They’re also sulfate-free, paraben free, silicone free, phthalate free, and cruelty-free. If you have curly hair and are interested in the curly girl method, these both meet the ingredient qualifications.
(Just a quick tip that I’ve learned from personal experience – make sure you dry them after each use so they last as long as possible without getting mushy)
7. Zero Waste Dry shampoo
Dry shampoo will come in handy if you camp, backpack, or go to remote locations frequently. You’re not always going to have access to running water, and I prefer to have a non-oily scalp whether I can bathe or not.
Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve’s is one of the few zero waste dry shampoos I’ve ever been able to find, and it’s the one I like the most. It’s got a pleasant, unobtrusive citrus-mint scent, it’s packaged in a 100% cardboard paper tube, and unlike some of the others I’ve tried, it doesn’t leave me looking like I’ve sprinkle powdered sugar all over my scalp.
8. Solid Facial Cleanser
Solid facial cleansers are convenient for the same reasons that solid shampoo and conditioners are. Unfortunately though, the large majority of bar soaps will do nothing but wreck your skin, so you can’t just go to your local pharmacy and pick up the first bar of soap you see. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you. I’ve tried a ton of different facial cleansing bar soaps, so I can save you the pain and money of having the sort through them.
I’ve got sensitive, oily, dehydrated, acne prone skin in addition to both rosacea and eczema. The only solid facial cleanser that I’ve used that didn’t completely strip my skin or cause breakouts is Drunk Elephant’s Pekee Bar. (CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar was also great, but it caused me to develop closed comedones, so I had to give it up.)
It’s good – really good. The bar is infused with blueberry extract, marula oil, honey, and glycerin, and it gently cleanses the skin and leaves it feeling balanced, which is quite the feat for a bar soap. It’s got a skin balanced pH of 6.5 and is soap-free, which are the reasons it doesn’t strip your skin the way most bar soaps do.
In relation to sustainability, all of Drunk Elephant’s products are cruelty free and have naturally sourced ingredients, they have multiple sustainable skin care lines, and they’re Pekee bar is packaged in cardboard.
9. Sustainable Moisturizer
Just as you should wash your face at least once a day, you should moisturize along with it. This is especially important if you do cleanse your face, because even with the most mild soap you’re still stripping the skin of its natural oils, so if you don’t replenish your skin with some moisture it won’t be happy.
There’s next to no zero waste moisturizers on the market, and the ones that are available don’t have the best ingredients or formulations. In this case, I think it’s best to focus on buying from a sustainable brand, rather than settling for a product that’s genuinely not good, and probably won’t end up being used.
Benton’s Deep Green Tea Lotion is one of my favorite lotions of all time, and I use it almost daily. It contains green tea extract, centella asiatica extract, houttuynia cordata extract, glycerin, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E, and a bunch of other great ingredients.
All of Benton’s products are cruelty free and EWG green level certified, they ship all of their products in 100% biodegradable sugarcane Packaging, and they recycle agricultural by-products in the manufacturing of their goods.
10. Zero Waste Makeup
I like wearing makeup. It feels good, it gives me an instant boost in confidence, and watching it all come together in the mirror is a fun process. I sincerely wish that everyone will get to experience it at least once.
When I’m traveling, I don’t always do my whole makeup routine. A lot of the time I just opt for some foundation, blush, and a little mascara. One of my go-to sustainable makeup brands is juice Beauty. They’re vegan and cruelty-free, are made with organic ingredients, they package they’re goods in sustainable materials, and they donate a ton of money to multiple different charities.
Their Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation is awesome. It’s got some killer ingredients like safflower oil, aloe vera juice, glycerin, olive oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The coverage is buildable, leaning towards full, and it’s got a dewy finish that leaves you looking glowy.
11. Toothpaste Tablets
Solid toothpastes are more convenient for travelers and more sustainable than their liquid counterpart. They’re almost always packaged in little to no plastic, take less space, and aren’t subject to TSA liquid regulations. You can easily fit an entire year’s supply of toothpaste tablets in a small reusable ziploc bag with room to spare, and I’d 10/10 recommend them to any traveler.
Colgate Anywhere Travel Toothpaste Tablets are my go-to. They’re packaged in a recyclable glass container and are one of the few solid toothpaste that I’ve found that contain flouride. Colgate is also working on a refill option, which I’m super excited for. (what’s better than recyclable or biodegradable packaging? Being able to reuse packaging you already have!)
And, despite there being a bunch of misinformation being thrown around about how fluoride is the devil and you should avoid at all cost, please remember that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water, and that it is the only known substance that is able to prevent cavities.
It is crucial for dental health and there’s a reason it’s still added to water today – it’s just that good at preventing tooth decay. If you don’t believe me, know that the CDC found it to be so effective that they deemed it one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
Dental disease has been proven to increase your risk for all kinds of health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and even dementia. So please, please take care of your teeth and make sure to brush with a fluoridated toothpaste at least once a day.
12. Reusable Toothbrush
The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every three months. This means that before I switched to a reusable toothbrush, I should have gone through roughly 100 toothbrushes throughout my life. Multiply that by a few billion and you see the picture.
Disposable plastic toothbrushes are no good, and we’re lucky to live in a time in which we have other options. For instance, we’ve got electric toothbrushes and bamboo toothbrushes. While they are very different products, they both have their positives and negatives.
Compostable bamboo toothbrushes have been the recent craze, and while they’re 100% a better option than disposable plastic toothbrushes, they aren’t perfect. They do cut back on plastic waste, but their bristles are still made of nylon, so they aren’t plastic-free. They also aren’t amazing for the environment – when biodegradable material breaks down in a landfill, it produces a ton of methane, which is even more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, I’d instead use an electric toothbrush that you can use for at least five years, and once your toothbrush has called it quits, send it to a proper recycling facility that can safely handle electronics. Keep in mind that they aren’t perfect either. You have to replace the heads on them roughly every 3 months, so that’s plastic waste that can’t be avoided.
Either one is better than normal plastic toothbrushes though, so pick whichever suits you best. I choose to use an electric toothbrush, primarily because they’re so much better for your teeth than manual toothbrushes are.
If you decide to do the same, you don’t need anything fancy, a simple electric toothbrush like Oral-B’s Pro 1000 will do the trick. It’s got a rotating head for maximum plaque removal, has a built-in timer, and has a pressure sensor that automatically stops the toothbrush if you’re brushing too hard.
13. Wet Wipes
Wet wipes come in handy more often than you’d think – water won’t cut it after eating really sticky finger food? Wet wipes. Need to freshen up after a mid day hike? Wet wipes. Need an on-the-spot stain remover? Wet wipes.
I take them on most of my trips, and the ones I purchase the most are Surviveware’s Biodegradable Wet Wipes. They are 100% biodegradable and are unscented, alcohol-free, and hypoallergenic. What keeps me coming back is their size and durability, though. They’re the perfect size cloth for a full body wipe down, and they don’t disintegrate in your hands like some of the other biodegradable wipes I’ve used.
They’re also super cheap, which doesn’t hurt.
14. Reef Safe Sunscreen
Sustainable sunscreens are becoming easier to find, but many of them have terrible product formulations that I refuse to recommend.
One of my favorite brands is Raw Elements. They make awesome zero waste sunscreens, and all of their products are organic, reef safe, cruelty free, and contain only non-nano zinc oxide as their UV filters. (in case you don’t know, most chemical sunscreens are bad news)
Their Face and Body Sunscreen is my go-to zero waste sunscreen balm. It’s SPF 30, non-irritating, and doesn’t break me out. I use this balm on my body, hands, and décolletage, but not my face. (I like a more lightweight facial sunscreen). It was designed to be used on the face though, so if you don’t want to carry around two different sunscreens, this will kill two birds with one stone.
It lasts for a long time and doesn’t run, even when exposed to water or high humidity, and comes in a durable metal container that is easy to carry around. Some of its ingredients include organic sunflower oil, green tea extract, black tea extract, hemp seed oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, vitamin E, along with tons of other goodies.
15. Eco-Friendly Bug Spray
I live in the Southern United States, and from mid-spring too late autumn, I can’t even open my front door without a mosquito slipping in. That wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except that for some reason, mosquitoes love seeking me out. You can only imagine how bad it gets when I’m traveling or camping in peak bug season.
If mosquitos like the taste of you too, and you like to carry bug spray, Repel’s Plant-Based Spray is a more sustainable alternative than your average insect repellent. It’s deet free and uses oil of lemon eucalyptus to repel insects. (which might sound ineffective, but has the CDC’s seal of approval)
It’s not greasy or sticky, smells good without being overbearing, and every time I’ve used it I had a huge decrease in overall amount of bug bites. I don’t use it too often because I usually just wear long sleeves and pants to deter bugs, but if it’s too hot outside or I’m going to be swimming, this is my go-to bug spray.
16. Hair Brush
Sustainable hair brushes are hard to find. There are many wood brushes, but their bristle pads are almost always made of synthetic rubber, which isn’t biodegradable. There is one zero waste brush that I know of that is made of 100% biodegradable cornstarch, but you can’t use any heat with it or it will melt.
Instead, I use a nice wooden comb. They’re biodegradable, I’ve had the same one for years and it still looks brand new, and they’re less bulky than hair brushes, which makes them perfect for traveling.
I prefer wide tooth combs that have a handle because they untangle well without snagging my hair, and are more convenient to use with blow dryers. This one made by Onedor is handcrafted and made of 100% green sandalwood.
17. Safety Razor
Investing in a metal razor is an easy way to cut out plastic while traveling. Unlike disposable razors, metal safety razors are meant to last a lifetime. The only thing that ever needs replacing are the recyclable double-edged blades, which results in much less waste being created.
They’re also more gentle on the skin, reduce the chance of nicks and cuts, and will save you money in the long run. You don’t need anything crazy fancy, just a simple metal safety razor will do. This one is affordable, comes in three different colors, and is made of durable zinc-alloy.
18. Zero Waste Floss
I had nonexistent dental hygiene habits and care throughout my adolescence, and it resulted in significant tooth decay. As a result, I now take dental hygiene very seriously. I brush at least twice a day, I floss twice a day, I chew sugar-free gum in between meals, the whole shabang.
Flossing in particular is important for me. Due to teeth crowding, not flossing is what caused the large majority of my cavities, so I’m extra vigilant about it now. When I first started buying sustainable goods, floss was one of the first things I bought – I used to get these bundles of floss that came in a glass container, and they worked well. I realized quickly though that the glass container was not travel friendly, and switched over to a floss with a metal container.
This floss made by Me Mother Earth is the one I use now, and I love it. The floss itself is made of bamboo, activated charcoal, candelilla wax, and peppermint essential oil, and it’s 100% biodegradable. A single bundle contains 33 yards of floss, which is just under a hundred feet, and the package comes with two of them.
The container that you put the floss in is made of rainbow stainless steel, which is honestly one of the reasons I bought it – I like the way it looks. One of my favorite things about this floss though, is that the brand who makes it donates 10% of all their profits to ocean and environmental conservation, and they package all of their goods in 100% plastic free materials.
19. Zero Waste Lip Balm
I have a bad habit of unconsciously licking my lips anytime they feel dry, which leads to even dryer lips, more licking, and so on, so forth. It’s a vicious cycle, and the only thing I’ve ever been able to do to prevent having perpetually chapped lips is layer on a thick layer of lip balm so my lips never feel dry.
And it works. I always have lip balm on me, whether I’m lounging at home, at a pub in Dublin, or hiking in the middle of nowhere. One of the sustainable, zero waste chapsticks that I’ve tried and actually liked is Farmstead Apothecary’s Lip Balm. The occlusive barrier it creates last a long time, so I don’t have to reapply as often as I usually do with others.
It comes in four different flavors, is packaged in 100% biodegradable materials, and uses exclusively organic ingredients in its formulation.
20. Menstrual Cup
If you’re a woman of reproductive age who isn’t on some sort of birth control that’s halting her periods, one of the most sustainable feminine hygiene products you can use is a menstrual cup.
There are other options such as reusable tampon applicators and reusable pads, but they’re not as practical for a traveler. You have to wash reusable pads in between each use, and because they’re so absorbent, it’s much harder than cleaning a menstrual cup. I really like reusable tampon applicators, but in order for them to work you have to have cotton refills to insert into them, which means they’re useless without them. They both also take up a lot more space.
This is why I prefer using a menstrual cup when I travel. The one I use, and the one I recommend to anyone who is hesitant about the idea of a menstrual cup, is Flex’s Menstrual Cup. What makes it so special is that it’s built with a loop at the end, and when said loop is pulled, it breaks the suction seal of the cup and makes removal so, so much easier.
If you’re at all nervous about using a menstrual cup, but still want to give it a try, get this one.
21. Reusable Shopping Bag
Plastic bags are being phased-out all around the world. There are several countries that have outright banned them, and many others who have adopted some form of legislation to regulate them. Even a few US states, including New York, California, and Hawaii, no longer allow their use.
And it’s no surprise why. They’re nearly impossible to recycle and often end up wasting away in delicate environments after being carelessly discarded. So why depend on them while traveling, when you can pack a reusable shopping bag? They’re cheap, and if you get a good one, will last you much longer than any plastic bag will.
I use bags that my Momma made for me, but if I didn’t, I’d use a simple bag like this. It comes in 34 different colors and is made of 100% recycled cotton.
22. Reusable Water Bottle
One of the easiest and most effective ways to travel more sustainably is to drink from a reusable water bottle.
There’s not a lot of good reasons to be consuming plastic bottles anymore – not when there are tens of thousands of reusable options that are not only better for the environment, but will save you money in the long run.
For those of you who are on a budget, you can find them at pretty much any major store for $10 or less. If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks on upgrades, you can nab a bottle with a built-in water filter, insulation, or an LED temperature display.
I recommend you get one with a built-in filter like the Grayl GeoPress. That way, even if you don’t have access to clean water, you’ll still be able to stay hydrated. It can make even the sketchiest water safe to drink – untrustworthy tap water? No problem. Random puddle during your hike? Absolutely.
It filters out viruses, bacteria, protozoa, sediments, microplastic, heavy metals, and a variety of harmful chemicals. The replaceable filter it comes with is good for 65 gallons, and it only takes eight seconds to clean 24 ounces of water.
23. Reusable Produce Bags
Going hand-in-hand with reusable shopping bags, using natural fiber produce bags is a simple way to cut down on plastic. If you’re a long-term traveler or someone who enjoys cooking while on the road, they’ll come in handy.
Instead of using the flimsy plastic bags offered at most supermarkets, invest in a set of 100% organic cotton bags. They’re eco-friendly, cater to a sustainable lifestyle, and don’t break the bank either. I prefer canvas ones like these over mesh ones because they’re more sturdy and they prevent your food from touching anything questionable on the way to your accommodation.
24. Reusable Containers
Bringing some sort of reusable food container with me when I travel is crucial. I don’t like having my food choices restricted, and enjoy being able to grab a can of soup from the grocery store if I want, knowing that I’ll be able to heat it without having to scrounge for a microwave-safe container.
Not only does it give you more freedom in the food you choose, it’s a great way to cut down on plastic usage. The more you use them, the less Styrofoam and single-use plastic you use. My favorite type to bring are collapsible containers like these because they’re super easy to pack.
(Quick tip: If you decide to get food at a street food stall, often they’ll be willing to use your reusable container instead of their single-use ones. Just ask!)
25. Reusable Ziplock Bag
Ziploc bags have come in handy more times than I can count, and I consider them an essential in every traveler’s pack. That being said, single-use plastic baggies are not the way to go.
I know they’re convenient, but that ease of use comes at a cost. They’re so convenient for the same reason they’re so environmentally unfriendly – they’re disposable. That means you don’t have to worry about cleaning them, but you do have to worry about where they’ll end up.
Instead, consider getting a set of reusable silicone storage bags like these leak proof ones. They’ll last you a long time, you won’t have to worry about spilling stuff in your bag, and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re storing food responsibly and sustainably.
26. Travel Cutlery
We gotta eat, whether we’re at home or traveling, and a large portion of us prefer using utensils when doing so. The issue lies in the fact that most travelers don’t bring their own silverware, and that most disposable utensils are made of plastic.
When you’re at a street food stall in Bangkok enjoying a papaya salad, you’re likely not going to be thinking about where your fork will end up or how much plastic you’re using. But let me tell you, it adds up.
This issue is easy to remedy, though – just get a set of travel cutlery. I prefer stainless steel ones like these because they’re more durable than bamboo, and will last way longer. They’re easily packable, come with a carrying case, and most importantly, are reusable.
27. UPF Clothing
Wearing clothing with ultraviolet protection is my favorite “sunscreen”. They are just as effective at preventing UV damage as traditional sunscreens, don’t have to be reapplied, only have to be purchased every few years at most, and will last even longer if you buy durable, high-quality products.
It’s especially important that travelers wear some sort of sun protection because they are often out in the sun for extended periods of time, and wearing UPF clothing is just more convenient than having to reapply sunscreen every few hours. Another great thing about UPF clothing is that it’s much better than normal apparel at temperature regulation on sunny days.
I buy nearly all of my UV protection apparel from Coolibar, one of the few brands that make uv protective clothing out of sustainable fibers.
All of their products are UPF 50+ (which blocks 98% of the sun’s rays), machine washable and dryable, and a large section of them are made of a cotton/bamboo-viscose/spandex fabric blend. They’ve got women’s apparel, men’s apparel, kids apparel, and accessories like gloves, scarves, masks, and umbrellas.
This long sleeve top is one of my favorite products from them. It’s lightweight, soft, super comfortable, and comes in 16 different colors. It’s a simple top that’s easy to dress up or down, which is what you want in a traveler’s wardrobe.
28. Sun Hat
Out of all the UPF apparel I own, sun hats are the ones that I wear most frequently. I wear them pretty much everywhere, unless I need to be somewhere with neat hair. Going for a day hike or a seven day backpacking trip? Sun hat. Grocery store? Sun hat. Picnic in a park? Sun hat.
Wearing them is an easy and effective way to prevent sun damage and premature aging, and I use them in combination with a facial sunscreen daily. They’re also a cute addition to any outfit if you find a stylish one, and will keep your head cool in even the sunniest weather.
This sun hat is collapsible and easily packable, making it ideal for travelers and backpackers. It’s made of eco-friendly recycled paper, is UPF 50+, and comes with a detachable chin strap, which is very important to me – I’ve actually lost hats before from strong winds, and now exclusively buy sun hats with straps.
One of the best parts of this hat, and the reason I recommend it so much, is the fact that it is adjustable. If you have a rough time finding hats that fit your head correctly, this one might just do you right.
29. Hair Ties
Hair ties come in handy for tying hair, organizing electronics, and all types of other random things. A more sustainable alternative to traditional plastic hair ties are these organic cotton and fair trade rubber ponytail holders. They are plastic free, 100% biodegradable, and built to last.
30. Hair Clips
When it comes to putting my hair up, I’m more of a hair clip kinda person. I’ve got curly hair, and clips don’t ruin the curl pattern the way that hair ties do, so I pretty much use them exclusively.
My favorite type of clips are metal ones like these. They’re sturdy, super durable, and I will last for years.
31. Sleep Mask & Ear Plugs
What do loud children on airplanes, a snorer in your shared hostel room, and midday sunlight have in common? That if you’re a light sleeper, you can kiss your chance of a good night’s sleep goodbye. Seriously though, if you aren’t a heavy sleeper who can sleep through just about anything, I’d recommend bringing an eye mask and earplugs.
I’m a comically light sleeper, so I’m pretty strict about the requirements my masks have to meet. They have to be able to block out at least 90% of light, have to have an adjustable fit, have to be comfortable, and have to be breathable. That might not seem all that unusual, but it’s harder than you’d think to find a mask that has all those traits.
Silk masks are favored by tons of people – they’re soft, comfy, and very sustainable. But despite how great they are, I’ve never been able to find a silk mask that effectively blocks out light. The mask that I currently use is this organic cotton blackout mask and I have only good things to say about it. It’s comfortable, lightweight, breathable, has an adjustable fit, and let’s me sleep comfortably in broad daylight.
As far as earplugs go, any reusable set like these silicone ones will work. Just don’t buy disposable foam ones!
32. Silk Sleep Sack
Not all accommodations are created equal, and if you travel frequently, it’s inevitable that sometime or another you’re going to stay in a bad accommodation.
Bugs, mold, dirty bedding, you name it. I carry a sleeping liner with me for this very reason. They’re like a sleeping bag, but are made of sheet like material. They take up next to no room, will keep you from having to lay on a dirty bed, and will give you a little peace of mind while sleeping in a sketchy room.
If you’re interested in getting a travel sheet, look for one that’s made of mulberry silk, like this one. Silk is one of the most sustainable fibers (it’s renewable, biodegradable, and uses less water and energy during manufacturing than many other fibers) and mulberry silk is the highest quality silk you can purchase.
Thanks to the properties of silk, this sheet is naturally hypoallergenic, excellent at temperature regulation, and gentle on the skin. It’s also machine washable, and once folded and packed away in its pouch, is only the size of and iPhone.
33. Laundry Powder
Another easy way to be more sustainable and reduce plastic usage while traveling is to wash your clothes with a detergent like Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder.
Traditional liquid laundry detergent is the most common clothing cleanser, and while it’s guaranteed to make your clothes fresh, it’s packaged in plastic and is wasteful. Laundry powders are a more sustainable alternative. One jar of Charlie’s Soap washes 100 loads of laundry and has a simple, yet effective formulation of only four natural ingredients. And, unlike some of the other eco-friendly laundry detergent alternatives, it actually works.
Using a clothesline is so much more sustainable than machine drying, both because it conserves energy and because it’ll make your clothes last 10 times longer.
Hang drying your clothes is particularly convenient if you’re a traveler. Clotheslines take up very little space, weigh next to nothing, and give you the freedom to wash and dry your clothes without access to a traditional washer and dryer. Just hand wash and hang.
This clothesline was designed for travelers. It’s retractable, has built-in clips, and comes with a waterproof carrying case.
35. Sustainable Earbuds
Headphones and earbuds are something that pretty much everyone uses now, especially travelers, and I didn’t find out until recently that there are more sustainable alternatives than your average earbuds.
House of Marley is a company that was founded to honor the legendary Bob Marley and his profound respect for the earth. They’re the most sustainable audio brand on the market – they use recycled and biodegradable materials, create long-lasting audio products that you don’t have to buy as often, and support global reforestation and ocean conservation via various foundations. I love them, and 10/10 would recommend their products to anyone.
Their True Wireless Redemption ANC Earbuds are made of bamboo, regrind natural wood composite, and regrind silicone. (which basically means material like plastic or wood that has already been processed once before, and is then recycled and ground up into pieces to become something new)
They’ve got a 5-hour battery life with noise cancellation enabled, a 7-hour battery life without noise cancellation enabled, and come with a charging case that holds up to 3 charges. I’m actually a big fan of that, because having a case that holds more than one charge is extremely useful when you’re a traveler.
They’re also sweat-proof, weather resistant, and have buttons for controlling different purposes such as playing, pausing, and changing music, as well as taking and ending calls.
36. Travel Towel
I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t leave the house without a towel. They are infinitely useful. They can be used as a makeshift sheet, pillow, blanket, scarf, bag, sunshade, cold/warm compress, tablecloth, hail windshield protector, and more.
I prefer linen towels over traditional cotton towels because linen fabrics are three times stronger than cotton fabrics, and they are more sustainable – fewer chemicals and less water are needed to grow and manufacture linen. This 100% linen towel is soft, durable, and highly absorbent.
37. Multivitamins, Painmeds & Antihistamines
Please bring multivitamins with you. Unless you’re carefully planning out each meal and limiting your take out consumption, a travelers diet isn’t exactly the healthiest. It’s better to err on the side of caution and take your daily vitamin.
On that same note, it’s a good idea to bring along some painkillers and antihistamines. I promise you’d rather have them and not need them, then need them and not have them.
Those are all of the items on my go-to sustainable travel packing list. I hope this list was helpful, and if there’s an item you think I’ve missed, feel free to let me know about it in the comments below!
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I 100% stand behind.
Hi, I’m Ash!
I’m a laid back traveler who loves experiencing new things and spontaneity. My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, skincare, and all things tea.
My biggest goal is to spread the word about sustainable travel and show everyone how easy it is to partake in. If you wanna learn more about that or get to know me better, feel free to click here.