An Illustrated Eco-Friendly Packing List for Travellers

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green traveller packing list
Always pack a book, a toothbrush and a pair of (Th)underpants.

After having read these tips on sustainable packing, you may be thinking: “Okay. I’ll admit, I’m digging the idea of sustainable travel. But what items do I need to pack in order to emerge from my cocoon into a beautiful, green, planet-loving butterfly?”

This is something I myself have been wondering, trialling and testing for years – years I tell you, now. And I’m starting to feel semi-confident that I may actually have a pretty good list of environmentally-friendly travelling items put together now.

And hey – sharing is caring, so I’m going to share them now with you. So, here’s my tried, true and tested green travel packing list – with illustrations!

green traveller packing list


I’ll start by saying something very upsetting I’m sure to minimalist travellers everywhere – but if I’m going away for longer than a week, I don’t travel with carry-on only.

This is because I’m:

  • A) Australian and have to travel from the arse-end of nowhere to get just about anywhere in the world, so I go for a long time.
  • B) The owner of a hefty DSLR Canon 7D and even heftier 24-105mm lens (although it is a magical lens, I’ll tell you that much), which takes up a lot of room in my luggage.

That being said, I don’t turn up my nose at spending good money on luggage. My various bags and suitcases get put through hell (honestly, you should see the state of the giant suitcase I bought in 2010 for travelling around Europe and still regularly use). I want bags and suitcases that are going to stand the test of time – not have the handles break or wheels fall off at first use.

When I was planning a trip to Kyrgyzstan in 2016, I bought [easyazon_link identifier=”B00EP2YZUU” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]The North Face Women’s Borealis Backpack[/easyazon_link] (in black, because black goes with everything, darling). I’ve found it to be a grand backpack for travelling and a most worthy investment.

I also have an [easyazon_link identifier=”B00W42MWIK” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]ONA Camera Bag[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link identifier=”B00KRK2Q3M” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]ONA Backpack[/easyazon_link]. These bags manage to be ridiculously stylish, with the added bonus of not looking like camera bags. The backpack also has a storage space for laptops, which I appreciate greatly and I suffer from separation anxiety when I don’t have my Macbook on my person.

As far as suitcases go, I only use my giant one now when moving from one country to the next. I travel with a medium-sized cabin bag (my favourite brands are Antler and American Tourister), but I also have a small carry on bag that I’ve owned for donkeys years, that I’d pair with a backpack when baggage allowance on flights was more reasonable. Those days seem to be long gone.

green traveller packing list


My main prerogative when flying as a sustainable traveller, is to pack items into my carry-on baggage, which will allow me to minimise my use of plastic whilst on the plane.

I always bring my [easyazon_link identifier=”B01DM8WUQS” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]KeepCup[/easyazon_link] with me, to use for water, tea, soft drinks, wine – you name it! I find a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00GLD8SYA” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]spork[/easyazon_link] also comes in handy. As they have no serrated edges, you can pack them into your carry on.

I always bring a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00PUIIZ6I” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]water bottle[/easyazon_link] too and do my best to fill it up after passing through security and before getting on the plane. If you’re after a light water bottle that won’ take up too much of your weight allowance, consider the Yuhme water bottle, which is made out of sugarcane. So cool and [easyazon_link identifier=”B07CSY5HZS” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]really pretty, too[/easyazon_link].

Some airports are wonderful and have bubblers where you can fill your bottle up with filtered water. Others are evil and seem to expect you to buy their nasty bottled water. In this instance, I ask bar or restaurant staff to fill up my water bottle for me (if it’s drinkable out of the tap in that country). I’ve never had anyone say no.

As a last resort, I get the flight staff to replenish my bottle with water on the plane. I figure that at the very least, I’m saving a plastic cup and serviette in the process.

Filtered water bottles really are the way to go these days. Being a Europhile, I don’t travel to destinations that don’t have drinkable tap water very often, but I’m looking at purchasing a [easyazon_link identifier=”B01C6HAVVM” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Grayl bottle[/easyazon_link] for a trip to Thailand next year, as I’ve heard utterly amazing things about them (update: I did get a GRAYL and I love it. Read the full review here).

I don’t like using wet wipes, after the emotional scarring incurred from seeing the “fatbergs” that these items form in a sewers. Instead, bring a small, quick-drying micro fibre towel that you can use to clean off your face on the plane – [easyazon_link identifier=”B0168LB0TY” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]there are sets online which come with larger towels[/easyazon_link].

I also always pack a canvas tote, to use in case I need to do any food or book shopping in the destination I’m heading to.

green traveller packing list


Sustainable fashion is a movement that is only picking up in momentum, as the sneaky under-practices of chain store shops are revealed and celebrities like Lily Cole and Emma Watson shout the praises of eco-friendly threads from the rooftops.

As a human-being who happens to love clothes, I try to make my own fashion choices as eco-friendly as possible. As such, I’ve been searching for brands who have embraced sustainable practices, whether that be using fabrics that aren’t damaging to the environment, or make their products on home turf (hooray for supporting local industry!).

I also shop secondhand around the world and as a result, have ended up with a rather eclectic wardrobe. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an arse when someone will ask me where I got something I’m wearing and I say “Paris”, but that’s just the way it is.

It’s a bit hard to get specific on packing lists, as they of course depend on a) where you’re going b) when you’re going and c) what you’ll be doing. You wouldn’t pack the same things for a luxury few days in Budapest as you would for horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

However, these are the things that I always try to pack, no matter where or when I’m going:

  • 1 sports bra
  • 2 normal bras
  • 4 to 7 pairs of undies – such as Thunderpants, which are made out of fair trade organic cotton in New Zealand.
  • Baselayers if needed – made out of merino wool.
  • Runners and/or boots – I love my Timberlands
  • 3-5 pairs of socks (mix of ankle and normal)
  • 1 pair jeans – mine are from Melbourne store Du Jour, sewed onsite from denim made locally.
  • 1 t-shirt dress
  • 3 organic cotton tees
  • Raincoat
  • Jacket
  • 2 pairs of fashion leggings in black – I’ve had two pairs of velvet leggings from Aussie label Black Milk for donkeys years. Alternatively, try to get ones made from organic cotton.
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B0184NBUFI” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Sports leggings[/easyazon_link]– one of my favourite brands are Teeki, who make yoga leggings from recycled plastic bottles.
  • A pretty yet practical dress

green traveller packing list


If you’re wanting to go green, your toiletries bag is a good place to start. Many of the items that we travel in are not only housed in plastic, but they contain chemicals that can cause harm to both the environment and in a lot of cases, your body too.

We all love our lotions and potions, but look for brands that are free from parabens, foaming agents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, microbeads, or dubiously list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

Here’s what I pack into my toiletries bag (which in itself was a pass-me-down from a friend):

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B007PC1VAY” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Rosehip Oil[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B01N32VJJK” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Cream deodorant in biodegradable packing[/easyazon_link]
  • Body cream in a glass jar
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00LAN5ZMO” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Face Cleanser[/easyazon_link]
  • Homemade rosewater toner
  • Lip balm (home made or in biodegradable packaging)
  • Bamboo Comb
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B000NL0T1G” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Razor[/easyazon_link] with [easyazon_link identifier=”B000NCMMBA” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]blades[/easyazon_link]
  • Non-toxic sunscreen with biodegradable packaging
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B009O3BCT2″ locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Bamboo toothbrush[/easyazon_link] with [easyazon_link identifier=”B01LBMI8PO” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]travel case[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B001W2K51O” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Shampoo Bar[/easyazon_link] in its own tin
  • Home-made toothpaste (Australians might be interested in trying this)
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B002VS8H3G” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Tubes[/easyazon_link] for toiletries

And as a woman, sometimes I like to splash a little colour on when I’m going out for a feed or a boogie.

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00II287O8″ locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Lipstick[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B00847BSCA” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]lip conditioner[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B008DZ3A2E” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Cream blush[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B01M07FCLJ” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Pencil eyeliner[/easyazon_link]

My lashes are dark so I don’t wear mascara, but for anyone who’s interested, read this post about a waste-free mascara. I’m currently hunting around for a decent eco-friendly eyeliner, so I’ll update when I find one. I also have a few Ere Perez eye-shadows from before I gave up plastic – I do really like them, just not a fan of the plastic containers!

Here’s an in-depth guide on what I pack toiletries-wise when travelling abroad.

green traveller packing list

Menstrual Items for the Ladies

Using a menstrual cup when travelling has saved me money and space in my luggage. I’ve had my [easyazon_link identifier=”B0184NWRQY” locale=”US” tag=”birdgehls10-20″]Lunette Cup[/easyazon_link] for two and a half years and it fits seamlessly into my toiletries bag.

I’m also a fan of Gladrags reusable cloth pads, which have come in handy when I’ve been doing activities that are a little more heavy-duty, like horse riding. They came in day pads, night pads and pantyliners, which are ideal for hiking or camping.

I’ve written extensively about dealing with your period in an eco-friendly manner whilst travelling – read the post here.

Travel Health

One thing that’s non-negotiable I think when embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle is medicine. I don’t use bandaids anymore, or tissues, but I travel with:

  • Paracetamol/Ibuprofen
  • Gastro-stop (learnt this lesson after getting food poisoning everywhere from Paris to Cuba)
  • Melatonin tablets for sleeping
  • Earplugs
  • Soap in a tin.
  • Travelan
  • Any other medicines specific to wherever you’re travelling
  • Insect repellent

So there you have it – these are the items I pack when I go travelling. They help minimise the amount of waste/rubbish I produce, with the aim of being environmentally friendly as possible.

Other posts you may like

Go plastic free with a zero waste travel kit
How to avoid plastic when you don’t speak the language
Eco friendly products you should always pack
Responsible travel bloggers you should be following
7 benefits of a plastic-free lifestyle
20 ways you can travel responsibly and save money

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Looking to go green on your travels? Here's an eco-friendly packing list that you can follow, next time you go overseas. / #SustainableTravel / #ecotravel / #ecotraveller / #responsibletravel / #ecotraveler / #greentravel / #sustainability

Here are some eco-friendly items you should pack the next time you go travelling, from clothing, to toiletries and everything in-between. /Sustainable Travel / Packing Lists / Plastic-free Travel / Green Traveller / Eco-Friendly /
Here are some eco-friendly items you should pack the next time you go travelling, from clothing, to toiletries and everything in-between. /Sustainable Travel / Packing Lists / Plastic-free Travel / Green Traveller / Eco-Friendly /
Here are some eco-friendly items you should pack the next time you go travelling, from clothing, to toiletries and everything in-between. /Sustainable Travel / Packing Lists / Plastic-free Travel / Green Traveller / Eco-Friendly /

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  1. Great list! I always travel with a Keep Cup too 🙂 The looks I get in certain countries when I hand it over to the barista are hilarious. Something I always pack with me are stainless steel straws and a tote bag for going to the market to pick up things (I guess I tend to travel long-term and not just for a weekend!)

    1. Thanks Megan. And – Ha! You just reminded me that I forgot to add a tote! I haven’t tried travelling with a stainless steel straw, I usually just try to ask to not have one. It works 2/3’s of the time but maybe bringing my own would equate to 3/3’s, which would be excellent!

  2. The illustrations with this post are brill! Travelling with carry-on only is great in theory, but doesn’t always work in practice. (Not least because all the budget airlines are cracking down on it – I remember the good old days when easyJet had no weight limit on their carry-on!) Insect repellent is one of those things I tend to overlook when travelling within the UK – SUCH a bad mistake when travelling to national parks that are home to swarms of midges!

    1. Thanks Rosie! Yeah it’s manageable when you’re going away for say, a weekend somewhere on the continent, but the restrictions are getting ridiculous now. I think WOW only let you on with 5kgs!! I can’t stand those midges, but it is something we learn to travel with in Oz due to the over abundance of creepy crawlies just about everywhere.

  3. Great post as always LC. While I love the idea of travelling in a sustainable way, sometimes I am not so good at it in practice.Your tips are always so simple, and if nothing else they make me think when making my next purchase. Thank you.

  4. All great tips! Travelling with my on who has type 1 diabetes, I am frustrated by the sheer amount of stuff– stuff with loads of plastic packaging– that we need to carry just to keep him ticking along and alive. Our last holiday, we brought an entire carry on bag of supplies. And left nonrecycleable plastic rubbish everywhere we went. I know it’s far down the list of things that pharmaceutical companies think about, but it’d be nice to be less wasteful.

    1. Ah, your poor son. Yeah it would be good to be able to cart around less stuff. I think medicine is the one place where you shouldn’t skimp on plastic use but I agree – it would be nice if the pharmaceutical companies could think outside the square bit in that regard.

  5. I love my Thunderpants too and they do so much more than just underwear.

    We did a month long trip with a stop over of only 22 hours in Hong Kong. We had one bag checked in and a carry on each. So when we arrived in Hong Kong we took our big bags to left luggage and headed into the city centre with only an overnight bag.

    It is really important if you plan on using public transport that you can carry everything you have easily. We were travelling with three children so each child had a small back pack and small suitcase with wheels. Not having the back pack stuffed to overflowing was important as they each had their own drink bottle, snacks and warm clothing and you don’t want to have to take everything out just to find the one thing you need.

    Lots of great tips here, thanks for the tips.

    1. They’re amazing hey? I have my eye on several other pairs… socks… swimmers!

      Yeah, it is nice to be concise with your packing. Having the goal to be a little bit greener with mine has really made me sit down and think about what I actually need – I’m a little bit less of a hot mess when I pack now (but still somehow manage to mostly leave it til the last minute!).

  6. You always put me to shame with your awesome eco-travel posts! 😉 I like to think I’m eco-friendly but seriously, I’m so far away from that it’s not funny. But in any case, lots of inspiration and reminders to maybe give up those wet wipes that I’m so fond of using when travelling (we’re often camping without access to water beyond what we bring along so that’s probably why I’ve gotten so into wet wipes 🙁 ).

    Agree re. carry-on, great idea but I don’t find it very practical unless I’m just zipping down to Melbourne for a long weekend. But then again, I usually find that I take waaaaay too much stuff when going overseas so I’m on a mission of reviewing and reducing what I really need.

    Thanks for another fabulous post!!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Kati! I think even THINKING about it is the right step forward… I’m definitely not perfect, it does take a bit of organisation and sometimes I get lazy and order takeaway and I feel guilty… but I figure every little effort made, makes a difference.

      Yeah, not sure of what to do re the water/wet-wipes issue. I didn’t wash anything other than my face when I was in Kyrgyzstan and sort of ended up getting used to being dirty… Maybe that’s an option? Haha.

      And yes, I’m not sure exactly how people cope with carry-on only, especially bloggers with their tech gear. I could maybe stretch two weeks but I’d have to leave my camera at home and I’m not willing to do that.

      1. Yep, being dirty is definitely the easiest way when camping, I’m pretty good with that! 😉 My mum was appalled that I could go a week without having a shower on our recent trip (should I not be admitting to this in public??? 😀 ), washing your hair on the road is just such a hassle… I’ve just got this thing with prepping food only with clean hands and that’s where the wet wipes have come in. I’m a bit OCD that way, which is weird given that I can go without showers for quite a few days… Anyway, good prompt to keep being mindful of those little practices and habits!

        1. Haha that’s fair enough! You’re much better than me, I think I just got used to cuddling my dogs and then eating straight after, but I’ve got a pretty good immune system now so no complaints ?

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