25 Eco Friendly Travel Products That You Should Always Pack
Updated February, 2019
It’s pretty easy to rack up the trash when travelling.
Plastic bottles. Plastic bags. Plastic cutlery. Styrofoam containers. Coffee cups. They all add up.
However, with a few slight adjustments to your travel kit, you’ll be able to drastically reduced the amount of rubbish you accumulate when travelling.
I’ve broken this post into two sections.
In the first, you’ll learn which items you should always take travelling, if you want to commit to being a more sustainable traveller.
The second contains some products which are ideal for long term travel, for an extended trip or a green nomad.
And of course, the smaller you pack, the better. Here’s are some tips for packing light.
Eco Friendly Items for Short Term Travel
Here are a few eco-friendly travel products which you should never travel without, whether you’re going on a day trip, weekend trip, short break, or travelling with carry-on only.
Reusable 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. Lately, I’ve been using a Yuhme bottle, which is lightweight and made of sugarcane, of all things! Pretty, sustainable and practical, all at once.
Don’t forget to empty your bottle when going through airport security – you can always fill it 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.
Here are some other good options of reusable water bottles for travel.Shop for a sustainable water bottle here.
Filtered Water Bottle + Filtration Device
Of course, in some countries, the tap water is utterly undrinkable. This is where I bring my GRAYL bottle with me.
Like the Yuhme bottle, it’s lightweight, but with a built-in filter, so that I can sip on clean water wherever I go.
I’ve written a standalone review about the Grayl, which you can read here.
I also have a Steripen which is handy for backpacking or camping, if you don’t want to bring a filtered bottle.Shop for a Grayl Water Bottle here or here in Australia.
Hankies and Napkins
A hanky is so versatile. You can use it for its intended purpose – bringing relief to your poor nose – but also as a napkin in a pinch.
As a chronic sufferer of hayfever, I always have one on hand. It’s negated the need for both paper napkins and disposable tissues.
Spork or Reusable 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.
If a spork isn’t your thing, then you can always buy a bamboo cutlery kit – just be wary of the knife when flying.
Sunscreen is something I always travel with in the warmer months. However, some creams are incredibly toxic and pollute the water your swimming in. Not to mention the damage they’re doing to your body.Shop for non-toxic sunscreen here.
Likewise, bugs are not something I want to contend with when travelling, but I want to use a spray that’s not harmful to my own body – particularly one that doesn’t contain DEET.Shop for insect repellant here.
Reusable Shopping Bags
I’m so glad totes are totes in fashion. I have a few that I rotate through for shopping and in lieu of a handbag.
Along with a tote, I have a collection of cloth bags, which 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.
A bamboo toothbrush is another item that’s a really easy swap – you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.
I’ve looked high and low for a green deodorant that actually works and found it in the form of Meow Meow Tweet’s cream deodorant.
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.
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.
A refillable pen is something I always like to have on hand. You never know when you’re going to need one – filling out tourist cards on planes, writing postcards, jotting down notes or ideas.
Disposable pens add up, so best to invest in one you can use again and again, so long as it can be refilled. Bonus points if the pen itself is made out of a biodegradable substance.
I hated packing stacks of pads and tampons into my bag when travelling (or trying to find some on the road). What a pain.
Having a menstrual cup has eliminated all these old worries. I’ve been using a Lunette Menstrual Cup for four years now and estimate that it’s saved me around $720 AUD in the process. Not bad at all.
I like the cup because I pop it in and pretty much forget my period, only having to empty it morning and night.
Of course, not everyone can use a cup as our bodies are all different. I don’t always use mine as I tend to suffer from horrific cramps at least one day of my cycle.
It’s then that I turn to reusable cloth pads, specifically Gladrags.
Between these two products, I’m covered. I haven’t had to use a sanitary napkin or tampon for years now. Plus they take up little to no space in my bag.
You can read more about using a menstrual cup or using cloth pads here.
If you need something to clean your cup or pads with, consider packing a reusable tin filled with soap.
Eco Friendly Travel Products for the Long Term
If you’re travelling further afield, or for a longer time, then here are some green travel accessories that you’ll find handy.
Solar Power Bank
It can get pretty frustrating to be out on the road (or camping) and have your phone run out of batteries (unless you’re keen for a digital detox, then it can actually be quite nice!).
A solar power bank will fix your issues, in this instance.
You can compare solar power banks here.
I like to keep a journal when travelling, for sanity’s sake more than anything.
Ideally, I want my journals to be earth-friendly, made out recycled paper, so I’m not adding to the billions of trees which get cut down each year, in order to meet stationary demands.
Stainless steel or bamboo straw
Straws are personally something I’ve done away with as much as possible, asking not to have them with drinks and even learning how to do so in different languages.
However, I understand that some people still enjoy using them and luckily there are plenty of options made out of bamboo, stainless steel and even glass.
Eco-Friendly packing cubes
Packing cubes are great for organising your luggage and keeping similar items together – no more digging into your suitcase or bag, scrambling to find lost items.
If you’re doing your laundry on the road, but can’t find a laundromat (or are camping, so no laundromats to speak of), then the Scrubba Bag will come in handy.
It’s easy to use and packs away tight. You’ll save a heck ton of money on your laundry.
Of course, you’re going to need something to clean your clothes with, as well.
Soap berries are ideal, as each berry can be used for five washes and they’re compostable too.
I’ve been caught out at airports before for reusing bottles that don’t have the size written on them, despite clearly being 100mls or less. Sigh.
Luckily, these GoToob bottles are made out of silicon and are leak free.
An umbrella is something I always think about having on hand when it’s too late (i.e. – I’m already soaked).
Be prepared by packing your own. Here are some eco-friendly umbrella options.
Eco-friendly toiletries bag
The bag that you use to store your toiletries is as important as what you keep in it!
Here are a few items I keep in my own eco-friendly toiletries bag.
I find shampoo bars to be revolutionary, however unlike many travellers I don’t use Lush bars, as they contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which I don’t consider to be a very eco-friendly product. I also can’t stand the smell of their stores, but I suppose that’s a more personal thing.
I buy my shampoo bars at my local bulk food store, however there are plenty of options available online.
I’ve had a reusable safety razor for four years now and I haven’t looked back since buying it.
I find they’re a lot easier to use – I never cut myself, unlike regularly doing so with flimsy plastic razors. I’ve also not had to replace a blade for a year. I make sure I dry the razor off thoroughly after every use and it keeps it sharp.
Um, okay it’s a bit of an awkward looking thing, but they come in handy when you’re travelling rough – I SWEAR!Buy a She-wee here.
Here’s a more extensive eco-friendly packing list (it’s illustrated, too!).
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.
What are your favourite eco-friendly travel items?