Sustainable Travel

How to Pack Like a Sustainable Traveller

August 21, 2017
sustainable travel packing

If only I could lug this old beauty around without having my arms fall off.

Sustainable travel is not a fad – it’s a thoughtful way of living your life that is thankfully here to stay.

Question is – how on earth do you begin to become a better traveller? Knowing where to start can seem extremely daunting at first (here are some great tips for becoming a greener traveller, which will save you money too).

I think it’s generally best to begin by looking what you can do, as an individual. This can be a choice to abstain from participating in animal related activities, travelling as a vego or vegan, or only staying in eco-conscious accommodation.

Or, you can simply pour out the contents of your luggage and have a cold hard look at what you’re carting around the world with you. Then, you can have your own, private Q&A preferably in the privacy of your living room or bedroom so no one thinks you’ve lost the plot. What are you doing well? And where can you do better?

With all that being said, here are a few points to consider when packing with sustainable travel in mind.

Aiming to be a more sustainable traveller? Here's how you should pack for a trip. Click To Tweet

Related: 9 Ways You Can Give Back to the Planet Whilst Travelling

1. Pack What You Will Actually Need

You wouldn’t pack items that you know you won’t need (or simply can’t take with you), so why wouldn’t you pack what you do need?

I’m personally not a fan of packing lists that suggest that you buy items whilst on the road. For one thing, it screams “I’M EXTREMELY DISORGANISED – WATCH OUT, HOT MESS COMING THROUGH”. For another, why would you waste money on items you already own, for the sake of some space in your luggage?

Generally, I would pack what you think you need for however long you’re going to be away. List making is good here, so you can go ahead and check items off as you pack them. This is a level of organisation that I always aspire to you and I am in awe of anyone who actually manages to do this.

sustainable travel packing

And don’t forget your passport!

2. Take Reusable Items

Here’s a great sustainable travel hack – you won’t feel the need to use disposable items, if you already have reusables within your arsenal. Single-use items are convenient and our over-use of them is conveniently choking the planet.

Some examples of items you can pack to take with you include:

  • 1. Water bottle
  • – get one with a filter that will service you anywhere in the world.

  • 2. Spork
  • – comes in handy when attending food fairs or eating street food.

  • 3. Hanky (handkerchief)
  • – can be used as a napkin as well.

  • 4. Cloth bags
  • – used to store snacks, or for shopping.

  • 5. Container
  • – pack lunch with food bought from a supermarket and save yourself some cash.

Related: My 7-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items

3. Invest in Quality

Admittedly, this is a hard one to see through as more and more of the stuff we need turns into items that were made cheaply off some construction line in China (yet still funnily cost you an arm, a leg and a kidney in price).

However, it’s generally worth shopping around for an item that you can use time and time again. Stuff that will last you years, over some cheap piece of crap which will break the first time that you use it. Your luggage itself is a good example – you’d want a backpack or suitcase that you can take on trip after trip, not one that’s going to have its handle snap off on its first trip abroad.

Try to shop local when you can – there are many small businesses in countries around the world who are making good quality items and doing so on their own turf.

Related: Green Up Your Travels With These Simple Eco-Friendly Swaps

4. Watch Out for Greenwashing

The most important and also quite sadly most disappointing point, is to always be alert to the possibility of being “greenwashed”.

For example, I see packing list after packing list that features LUSH Shampoo Bars as being an eco-friendly alternative. Despite being packaging free (which is excellent), their shampoo bars contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is a foaming agent found in conventional shampoos. I don’t use products with SLS in them, as they are harmful to the environment and trigger allergic reactions on my super sensitive scalp. (you can read about this issue in further detail in this post).

5. Look Out For Chemical-Free Toiletries

Your toiletries bag will probably be the place where you pack the items that are most harmful to the planet. Potions and lotions that are filled with ingredients that can cause more harm than good for you and the planet (for example, did you know some sunscreens have a chemical in them that can bleach coral reefs?).

That aside, many of the toiletry items that we take travelling with us are contained in wasteful plastic containers, which aren’t reusable.

However with a little forethought, you can drastically reduce the amount of plasticky chemical gunk found in your own toiletries bag (click on the post below to see specifically what I travel with).

Related: Here’s What is in my Eco-Friendly Toiletries Bag

So – what should you be taking with you when packing for a trip, with the aim of being the most sustainable traveller you can possibly be?

Here’s a list of what I pack when travelling. Hope it helps!

How do you travel more sustainably?

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Packing for sustainable travel isn't as hard as you think it may be. Here are some simple and straightforward tips to get you started.

Packing for sustainable travel isn't as hard as you think it may be. Here are some simple and straightforward tips to get you started.
Packing for sustainable travel isn't as hard as you think it may be. Here are some simple and straightforward tips to get you started.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Ryan Stimmel August 23, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Terrific advice, though in places where one cannot drink the water we find it more useful to bring a reusable mini personal water filter. Purchase one water bottle with a universal thread then reuse it as many times as possible refilling it from the tap.

    • Reply LC August 26, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Thanks Ryan – great tip, too!

  • Reply Kati October 13, 2017 at 2:40 am

    I will use up my Lush shampoo bar (had it for ages before you educated me 🙂 ) and then I’ll buy the one you use. Happy days are coming! 😀

    • Reply LC October 13, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Oh good, I really like it! It smells so lovely.

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