My Seven-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items

My spork and reusable napkin – perfect for travelling.

Just because 2016 is over, doesn’t mean I want to stop my experiment of living and travelling without using plastic.

Travelling plastic-free in particular, remains as a goal that is quite high up on my list. I would also like for it to remain as a permanent feature on this blog. Good thing I have jurisdiction over what goes on it, eh?

So, I’m putting together a little series in this month of January, which is aimed at helping you green up your travels, with as little effort as possible on your part.

I’ll also be posting tips on the Birdgehls Facebook page – give it a like and follow along.

I appreciate several things about the following items. The most obvious one is that they help reduce my plastic output. They’re also pleasing on the eye and can save you a wad of cash over time, which is quite lovely too.

Related: How to travel responsibly, without blowing your money

So, if you’re wanting to reduce your environmental impact on the world, here are some items I recommend for eco-friendly travel.

Are you looking to go green this year? Here are my seven-odd favourite eco-friendly travel items.

Pack your own water bottle

Bottled water really has to be the biggest con of the last few decades – particularly when you’re encouraged to buy it in places where the tap water is drinkable.

I never travel without my own bottle, my favourite of which are made by S’well, although Klean Kanteen are a close second. Pretty and practical, all at once.

Don’t forget to empty them when going through airport security – you can always fill them up on the other end. If you can’t find filtered water (shame on airports that don’t offer this service), then ask a staff member at a restaurant or bar to fill it up for you. At worst, I get them filled up on the plane itself. Although this is still coming from bottled water, I figure I’m at least saving several plastic cups in the process.

Bring something to sterilise water with

Of course, there are many countries you will travel to where the water will be undrinkable, least you want to contract some kind of horrible stomach disease. That sounds like fun – I know I enjoyed having that happen when I travelled to Cuba early last year.

I’ve used a SteriPEN or iodine tablets in countries with undrinkable water. However, this won’t help so much in cases where the water is brackish. In this circumstance, you’ll need it to be filtered, which is where bottles like Clearly Filtered or a reader’s suggestion of Lifestraw come in handy.

I admittedly have mostly travelled through countries that have fairly decent drinking water, so I’m still working on this one. Or, I’ve been in situations (like when I was horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan) where there was no water other than bottled water, as it was at the remote yurt camps we were staying at.

So, the jury’s out on which products are most effective, but I think a filtered bottle should definitely keep you covered.

TSHU napkins have long been an obsession.

A hanky can also double up as a napkin

One item I do swear by and always take travelling are my TSHU hankies (handkerchiefs).

They’re everything I love about a product – reusable, made with love by a small company (Canadian, in this regard) and attractive, to boot.

As a chronic sufferer of allergies with a silly immune system, I always need to have a hanky on hand. These babies have saved me from having to purchase countless packs of tissues. I also use them as napkins and wet wipes, in a pinch.

Try to boil them after use and before washing, to keep them sanitised. Although I’m guilty of not doing this often enough and I haven’t dropped dead, yet.

Bring a spork, to use in lieu of plastic cutlery

How handy are sporks?! Rhetorical question, as the answer is very.

They are a street-food lover’s dream implement, as they can be used to eat ice cream, as well as fork noodles into your gob. I also like to use mine when travelling long-haul, to avoid plastic cutlery.

Best of all, as they don’t have a serrated edge, you can take them in your carry on. Security staff may question them, but they’ll let you through once they see you’re holding an amalgamation of a fork and spoon, not a knife.

Bring a spork so you don't have to use plastic cutlery whilst on the road #SustainableTravel Click To Tweet

Cloth bags for snacks on the road and a tote for shopping

I’m so glad totes are totes in fashion because I was totes stoked to find this totally cute tote. I’m done now. Promise.

Anyway, I use the tote for shopping, or in lieu of a purse. Honestly, finding a shopping bag that has a strap that goes across the body has revolutionised my life.

Along with the tote, I have a collection of cloth bags that I use for food shopping (particularly at farmer’s markets) and small cloth bags for snacks when travelling.

I’ve had some people in certain countries (here’s looking at you, Switzerland) refuse to put food I’ve wanted to purchase in the bag, because it is considered “unhygienic”. In those cases, I’ve usually just opted to go without. I didn’t need that chocolate, anyway.

My KeepCup is quite possibly my favourite reusable item.

An on the go, reusable coffee-cup, for flights and well… coffee

I really, truly love my KeepCup and not only because it’s Australian-made. It’s become one of my go to items for travelling, or even just taking a cup of tea with me on my commute to work (when I used to have a job, lol).

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, think about how many cups you can go through in a year… a week… even a day. You can drastically reduce your waste output with this one, single and simple swap to a reusable coffee cup.

I’ve used mine on planes as well, for juice, water and even red wine! I always get positive comments on it from members of airline staff, which is nice.

Limit sanitary waste with a menstrual cup

One of my favourite plastic-free items is my Lunette Menstrual Cup, which I’ve been using for almost two years and has saved me over $130 AUD in the process.

I hated packing stacks of pads and tampons into my bag when travelling (or trying to find some on the road) and don’t get me started on the bloody tampon tax, either. My cup slips into my toiletries bag, taking up little to no room and has saved my sanity on countless occasions. Take that, Australian government, with your endless disappointments and aggravations!

I’ve also trialled THINX Period Underpants. I don’t use them alone, but together, the two products have my periods covered.

Related: THINX Period Underpants are perfect for travellers

So that’s it. The items that I always pack as a self-professed “green traveller” that have saved me money and limited the amount of plastic I use on a day-to-day basis. Most are small and pack away neatly and all can be taken in your carry-on, if that’s the way you like to travel.

Tune in later on this month for more posts about sustainable and plastic-free travel. And I know I sound like a broken record, but don’t forget to follow along on Facebook.

What are your favourite eco-friendly travel items?

This post contains affiliate links, to the products I use myself and therefore recommend to all other green travellers! Thank you for supporting my war on plastic.

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60 Responses to My Seven-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items

  1. Promise Chika Maxwell January 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    I totally agree with you on the use of hanky rather tissues, can really save a lot on that. Your Keepcup looks lovely and pretty handy. Knowing that you can also use it for wine is just the deal!

    • LC January 6, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

      Haha yeah just wash it out and off you go again… and again… and again!

  2. John January 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    It’s amazing when you stop and think about how much waste we generate in everyday life, and how much that increases when we travel and everything becomes disposable. Excellent ideas in this post! I don’t know if you are a straw user, but you can buy stainless steel straws to replace plastic too.

    • LC January 6, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

      I hate straws more than anything else in the world, haha so I just request not to have one. It works.. sometimes. Thanks for the comment, John.

  3. Julia Antoinette January 7, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    I’m so impressed on which items you travel with. I personally like the water sterilization, but I don’t know where to buy it in the Philippines!

    xoxo,
    Julia Antoinette
    http://juliaantoinette.com

    • LC January 7, 2017 at 6:52 am #

      Yes, very good question. These things should be made more readily available.

  4. Marge January 7, 2017 at 2:00 am #

    I think you’ve inspired me a bit, when I read about your post about living without plastic, I’ve started to unconsciously find stuff for my apartment that are not made of plastic. I am also thinking of getting the menstrual cup. My friends think it’s hard to use but I am willing to give it a try.
    Marge recently posted…2017: The Year We Should Stop Asking for EasyMy Profile

    • LC January 7, 2017 at 6:53 am #

      You should! I love mine. It’s a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s super easy to use. I barely even notice it now and all I have to do is empty it morning and evening. Plus all the money saved is a good incentive.

  5. neha January 7, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    Wonderful. You are doing a great job there with the eco friendly travel items. If all travelers opt for some of these items the world will have so less waste produced on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing. Hope it inspires others
    neha recently posted…2016 โ€“ Our Travel DiaryMy Profile

    • LC January 7, 2017 at 6:53 am #

      Thanks Neha, me too.

  6. Johna January 7, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    Amazing! I have started doing this actually. I started investing in eco-friendly travel items. Some are quite pricey but I know they’ll save me some money as the years go by hehe.
    Johna recently posted…2016, The Year That WasMy Profile

    • LC January 7, 2017 at 6:54 am #

      They do! It’s with paying for quality.

  7. Tara January 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    You’ve got some good ideas here. It’s second nature for me to carry a water bottle and a handkerchief, although I can’t imagine spend $34 dollars on one. I’m not a fan of sporks, and I’ve had regular forks taken away from me by the TSA. I love that you are committed to not using plastic. We try really hard at home, but it’s so much harder when we travel.

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 4:41 am #

      Haha yeah, I like them but they’re not for everyone. That’s pretty irritating about the TSA! I had the Australian equivalent put my bag through again, then laugh at me when they realised what it was. but travelling domestically around Oz is nothing like travelling domestically around the States…

  8. Christine January 7, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    What a great list! I always have a foldable bag in my purse and a water bottle when we travel. Love the spark idea and the beautiful napkins. Will have to fret some of these for our next trip.

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 4:43 am #

      A foldable bag and water bottle is a great addition. Glad that there are some additions that you like.

  9. Erica M Poyauan January 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    I admire your enthusiasm in advocating a life without plastics and I wish I have the will to avoid it completely or at least lessen my use… So far, I can only try utilizing eco-friendly bags when shopping and coffee tumbler for to go drinks… I’ll try to do what you do but I’m not sure if I’d be able to use a menstrual cup… thanks for setting an example! Keep sharing posts like this!
    Erica M Poyauan recently posted…How I Got my Japan Tourist Visa in the PhilippinesMy Profile

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:09 am #

      Hey, that’s something! Imagine how many disposable coffee cups that’s saving… not to mention plastic bags, which are THE WORST.

  10. Adrenaline Romance January 9, 2017 at 3:50 am #

    We do have all those items when traveling, and we absolutely love them. I for one also use the menstrual cup, and I can’t think of the trash I have saved by using it. We are also environmental advocates, and we want to leave lesser trash on our travels. Cheers to you for this great list! I am sharing this on our FB page and Twitter.

    -Sheila

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 11:54 pm #

      Thank you so much! I adore my menstrual cup, it’s definitely been my favourite addition to the kit.

  11. Flo @ Yoga, Wine & Travel January 9, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    Switching to a steel water bottle has drastically reduced the amount of plastic I go through! These are some great items for eco friendly travel – I also avoid using plastic straws and drink straight from the cup when I’m in a restaurant these days!
    Flo @ Yoga, Wine & Travel recently posted…7 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Yoga Retreat in Sri LankaMy Profile

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 11:54 pm #

      Thanks! Me too – straws are SO POINTLESS.

  12. Josie January 9, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    There are some really great ideas here. The bottled water thing is my bugbear! I travel with my own water bottle but still seem to end up with countless plastic bottles from tours, hotels etc They would be better off having somewhere to refill bottles more readily available.

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:01 am #

      Hehe bugbear, love it. Yeah, bottled water is such a con! There’s some places that offer it to you and just think “really? can’t you lead with a better example?”

  13. finja January 9, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Aww, these tips look so useful. I like bringing a little bag (tote bag) for bus and train rides, I usually buy water bottles locally. Happy travelling in 17!
    xx finja | http://www.effcaa.com

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:01 am #

      Thanks, same to you!

  14. Mike January 9, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    After reading this I really want to buy a filtered water bottle lol. Thanks for awesome suggestions.
    Mike recently posted…Favourite Pictures from my Travels in 2016My Profile

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:02 am #

      Do iiiiiit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Stacey January 9, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    You take eco friendly to a new level. I have tried or put into practice everything until I got to the menstrual cup. I honestly had never heard of this until now, so thank you for teaching me something new. Don’t know if I’d ever use it, but at least I know about it now.

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:02 am #

      Knowledge is power, as “they” say. Thanks, can only try.

  16. TogetherInThailand January 9, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    You often hear about ecotourism and activities, but it should include the items you carry while traveling, like you have mentioned here!!! This is brilliant and so helpful to the environment! I love the idea of carrying a handkerchief. SO useful! Also, great idea on filling your own water bottle on the plane. So much plastic can be saved on the plane if more travelers did this! Love your suggestions here.

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:05 am #

      Exactly. I think it’s easy for people to become overwhelmed – even the most dedicated have issues vetting the places they visit and accommodation they stay in. Eco-friendly is also becoming synonymous with luxury and therefore expensive. I just want to show that being environmentally friendly is not out of reach for the everyday traveller and that you can make a difference – even as a budget traveller and PARTICULARLY where some of these items end up saving you money, long term.

  17. Halef January 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    I love your post! I’m all about being a green traveler, and there are several pointers here that I don’t do (such as I can’t use hanky – but I will use my napkins for several use).
    Will also bring some food containers for leftovers.
    Safe travels!
    Halef

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:06 am #

      Thanks Halef! Glad it was helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Sumti Bhadani January 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    Nice list. I have to start using some of them for my traveling too ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:11 am #

      Good luck!

  19. NowThatsAHoneymoon January 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    Wow such practical tips! I don’t think I have any of these in my life LOL. Tote bags I do, they definitely come in handy for shopping!

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:06 am #

      Haha yeah, I always have some lying around in my bag or car.

  20. Barbara January 9, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

    I love your list! I’m with you on bottled water too. My kids always want me to buy it but I carry a bottle to refill too!

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:07 am #

      Hehe maybe they should pay for it with their pocket money? Might change their minds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Katie at Study Hard Travel Smart January 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

    These are some great suggestions! I have to admit that I’m guilty of using too many plastic items will traveling in the name of convenience. I have recently started to switch over to re-usable, though, so I’ll definitely keep this list in mind!

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 12:07 am #

      It can be difficult, but I reckon every bit counts.

  22. Dana January 11, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    Stumbled over here, good post. I don’t get to travel much but I use a keep cup everyday, I love it. Just so everyone knows if you prefer glass in your everyday life they offer a glass option/s. Macpac make a super small titanium spork that I also keep in my handbag. Great options are available once you start looking for alternatives. Little things make big differences.

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 11:52 pm #

      I think the glass options looks so pretty – but they’re not for me, I’d smash them in a matter of hours. Agreed Dana – it is the small steps forward that make the most difference. Thanks for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Shane January 11, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    Such nifty and convenient finds. I need to get several of these for my mom who’s all about going green!

    • LC January 11, 2017 at 11:51 pm #

      Hope she finds them helpful!

  24. Maria January 12, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    Such great tips. Already implementing some on my effort to get greener , but find the post very helpful and inspiring to continue to do better.

    • LC January 12, 2017 at 11:53 am #

      That’s great to hear, Maria. Good luck!

  25. niko ( Journal of nomads) January 13, 2017 at 7:02 am #

    The amount of waste people generate is mind blowing!What you presented here is the best list of alternative Eco friendly equipment one could travel with.Carrying my own plastic bottle and re using it, is something I always try to do.Brilliant article!

    • LC January 15, 2017 at 7:09 am #

      Thanks Niko!

  26. Andreea Bujor January 13, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    I like the spork (i find the name very funny), and all what you wrote is very useful and decent . All of us should use this travel items. Keep up your good job!

    • LC January 14, 2017 at 2:44 am #

      I know, it makes me giggle too. Thank you!

  27. Sandy N Vyjay January 14, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    Wow! Great list. I also prefer using my own water bottle and cloth or tote bag. These items are so handy and useful.
    I loved the idea of using a spork.
    Sandy N Vyjay recently posted…Our 5 unique experiences in South IndiaMy Profile

    • LC January 15, 2017 at 7:08 am #

      They’re so great!

  28. Hannah @GettingStamped January 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    We travel with a spork, so you aren’t alone. It bothers me everytime I go to 7 eleven here in Thailand they give me plastic bags, a straw, and a fork! It’s sickening.
    Hannah @GettingStamped recently posted…Getting A Sak Yant Tattoo in Chiang Mai, ThailandMy Profile

    • LC January 15, 2017 at 7:05 am #

      That would make me cry and is why I am yet to go to Thailand!

  29. Sarah January 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm #

    I’m not always the most eco-friendly person, but luckily my travel partner is, so these tips are great! She always separates our recyclables and then we go on a journey to find a recycle bin to deposit it! Also, love S’well water bottles. They are so pretty!

    • LC January 16, 2017 at 12:48 am #

      Good on your travel partner! Agreed re S’well – I’m glad they’re not form over function, either.

  30. Sheena January 15, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    I love this list, it’s so fun & helpful! I haven’t heard of Sโ€™well but my absolute favourite travel item is Lifestraw – it’s a filtered water bottle that you can drink from immediately, I’ve used it all through Asia & Central America with no issues!
    Sheena recently posted…Sirenas Diving in Playas del CocosMy Profile

    • LC January 16, 2017 at 12:49 am #

      S’well is great for local travels where you can drink the water – I use it a lot at work, as it’s insulated. But for travelling, a filtered bottle is a must. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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