21 Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials for Your Sustainable Packing List

You may not think about it as you’re traveling the world, but every item you use has an impact on the environment. From grocery bags to water bottles, billions of tons of waste is accumulated every year worldwide

However, you don’t have to cut out your shampoo or sunscreen to make a difference in this issue. It’s simply a matter of choosing the right sustainable travel packing essentials. 

These 21 eco-friendly essentials will save you time, money, and the planet as you opt for durability and safe materials that benefit the places you visit by reducing waste and should be added to your sustainable travel checklist.

Reusable Eco Friendly Products

1. Filtered Water Bottle

Bringing a filtered water bottle with me while traveling has been game-changing, and this is the most useful sustainable travel product for all types of travel. In many areas of the world that are less developed, access to clean running water is not a reality. 

Single-use plastic water bottles are extremely harmful to the environment, and utilizing these creates unnecessary waste in the areas you’re visiting. The Brita bottle has been a longtime favorite of mine, and the insulated version allows you to bring clean, cold water around all day with zero waste. 

Filtered water bottle
Using a filtered water bottle saves time and money while keeping your water safe to drink

Many travelers also favor the LifeStraw, another water filter that will deliver you fresh drinking water at a moment’s notice. This option is more popular with campers and outdoor enthusiasts who use it to safely drink water from streams or lakes.

2. Solid Shampoo and Soap Bars

Using travel toiletries can be wasteful and annoying, as they typically run out quickly and the plastic containers are discarded after use. Solid hair and body bars are environmentally friendly travel products that will diminish your plastic use and save you time and money on travel-sized toiletries. 

Ethique creates climate-conscious options for travelers of all types, and I especially appreciate the variety that they offer in their products, including:

These bars will last you three times longer than the standard liquid toiletry alternative, making them more eco-friendly and valuable in the long run. 

I also recommend a soap container for travel to keep your eco-friendly travel toiletries dry and in the same place- this one is 100% leakproof and a compact option for saving space in your bag. 

3. Reusable Bamboo Cutlery

Another frequently used and waste-creating product is plastic cutlery, typically given out for takeaway meals or even at restaurants, these plastics can take centuries to break down when they’re only used for less than an hour. 

Carrying around this reusable bamboo cultery helps you reduce your carbon footprint and keep enjoying local cuisine.

Reusable bamboo silverware
Reusable products like silverware reduce single-use plastics

4. Reusable Travel Straws

Even if using a straw is your preferred way of drinking, you don’t have to harm the environment by doing so. Nowadays, reusable straws are a convenient way to travel plastic-free and still enjoy sipping on a straw. 

I like this stainless steel metal straw that comes with a carrying pouch that easily clips onto a keychain or bag, and a cleaner so that it can be enjoyed time and time again. However, there are also bamboo straws that are a great single-use plastic alternative for traveling. 

5. Teva Sandals

When traveling, especially for long periods of time, having a reliable and comfortable pair of shoes is a crucial addition to your sustainable travel kit. 

Teva sandals are a bestseller in outdoor sandals and use responsibly sourced and recycled materials to create iconic footwear. They even have a sandal recycling program that gives new life to well-worn sandals.

They’re comfortable and suitable for long travel days with a lot of steps. Not to mention their durability, I’ve seen these things go through near hell and keep kicking; Tevas are the best eco-friendly travel shoes.

6. Osprey Backpack

Choosing a reliable backpack is not only a way to avoid creating waste, but a crucial step in long-term, cost-effective, and comfortable travel. A backpack like Osprey’s is one of the best eco-friendly travel items because:

  • Durable design allows the pack to be used for years of adventures
  • Making a one-time investment in a reliable bag prevents you from having to spend more on replacing bags that will wear quicker than this one
  • Traveling with a bag that is comfortable to wear and doesn’t break down easily will prevent hassles from ruining your trips down the line
Hikers sporting Osprey backpacks
A durable backpack is essential for comfortable travels

This 40L backpack is a great environmentally friendly backpack for beginner travelers or seasoned vagabonds alike as it’s made with durable fabrics and incorporates internal organization. 

Osprey is committed to making eco-friendly travel gear, using high-quality recycled materials to create long-lasting and socially conscious travel equipment.

7. Everyday Bag (Tote & Fold-up Backpack)

While a large and durable backpack is essential to comfortable and sustainable travel, bringing a smaller bag for everyday use will also come in handy in day-to-day life abroad.

Reusable tote bags have become increasingly popular as substitutes for plastic grocery bags, another huge waste contributor. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Some countries have even implemented taxes on grocery bags worldwide, so it’s best to carry your own.

Like the tote bag, a compressible travel backpack is another small bag that can easily be brought out on day trips when you don’t want to lug your suitcases or backpacks around as you explore your destination. This backpack is the best eco-friendly personal item bag because it’s reliable, easily folds up to a fraction of the size, and can be clipped onto your bag for simple transport. 

Each of these sustainable travel essentials not only reduces waste but makes life more convenient on the road, and I’ve used my tote bags and fold-up backpack on every trip.

8. Travel Bottles for Toiletries

Morfone travel bottles for toiletries

TSA-approved toiletry containers are a perfect zero-waste alternative to travel-sized products. With these bottles, you can easily bring your favorite toiletry on the plane without creating waste through a single-use travel-sized plastic bottle. 

The Morfone Travel Bottles are leak-proof and TSA carry-on approved. They’re made of food-grade silicone and can be reused multiple times to accommodate all of your travel needs.

9. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Coral reefs are susceptible to significant harm due to chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate used in commercial sunscreens, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean News page. But when you’re traveling, sunscreen is essential to personal health and well-being.

An abundant coral reef in Bali

It’s always best to choose reef-safe sunscreen that does not contain the harsh chemicals of typical sunscreens. 

Badger’s Reef Safe Sunscreen is made with reef-friendly, organic ingredients and is water resistant, making it the best choice to bring with you on your next sunny vacation.

10. Sustainable Deodorant

A sustainable deodorant option is essential to your eco-travel toiletries kit as many mainstream deodorant brands use wasteful plastic packaging and put harmful chemicals into their antiperspirants. 

Ethique’s deodorant stick uses plastic-free, recyclable packaging, and ethical ingredients that are safe for you and the environment. All of their bars have been certified by PETA as vegan and cruelty-free, making them the best choice for deodorant on the go.

11. Bamboo Reusable Coffee Cup

An eco-friendly alternative to the typical single-use coffee cup is this reusable coffee tumbler. Made with biodegradable bamboo fiber, The Future is bamboo creates the perfect zero-waste option for your favorite coffees and teas. 

With the ability to keep your beverages cold or hot, it also boasts an antimicrobial silicone lid and heat sleeve. Ditch the harmful plastic cups for this cute, sustainable alternative.

12. Bamboo Toothbrush

According to Dr. Jeremy Dixon of Gramercy Pediatric Dentistry, one billion toothbrushes are thrown out every year in the United States. This is a ton of waste that could be avoided with another eco-travel essential: bamboo toothbrushes.

Reusable bamboo toothbrushes
Bamboo toothbrushes are a responsible alternative to typical plastic options

This set of bamboo toothbrushes gives you a year’s worth of biodegradable, compostable bamboo toothbrushes with soft bristles that are perfectly planet-friendly.

13. Sustainable Toothpaste Bits

Along with a sustainable toothbrush alternative, solid toothpaste bits are a zero-waste alternative to traditional toothpaste that uses plastic packaging and contains harmful ingredients that cause pollution.

Bite toothpaste bits are formulated with clean, effective ingredients and come in plastic-free packaging that’s travel-friendly. This is my go-to alternative to commercial toothpaste brands.

14. Menstrual Cup

Unfortunately, feminine sanitary products like pads and tampons are very wasteful to the environment. Choosing a plastic-free alternative like the menstrual cup is the best way to achieve zero waste travel. 

The EcoBlossom menstrual cup is my choice for travel as they’re made with medical-grade silicone and you can wear it for up to 12 hours! It also comes with a carrying bag for storing while you travel.

Experienced travelers may also know that the options for sanitary products in less developed regions are limited and can make your adventures uncomfortable. Investing in a reusable product like this one will guarantee that you have a reliable option that can be used for up to 10 years and save you money along the way!

15. Eco-Friendly Clothing Favorites

The fast fashion industry contributes significantly to the climate crisis, where waste occurs at every stage of clothing manufacturing. Fast fashion is a business model that has recently gained popularity where apparel is mass-produced at a low cost and then brought to retail as quickly as possible. 

Not only is fast fashion socially irresponsible, but the methods used in this type of business result in huge amounts of waste, create as much as 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the second-biggest consumer of water.

Avoiding fast fashion has become simpler as ethical and fashionable clothing choices are available in many forms! One of my favorites is swimwear made from reusable plastic made by brands like Waterlust and Soulti Surf.

Laynie wearing a swimsuit made from recycled plastic
One of my favorite swimsuits is eco-friendly and made from recycled plastic

An online marketplace that I like to browse is The Someday Co. which gathers top-tier sustainable brands for swimwear, activewear, and surf gear all in one place!

Second-hand thrift stores and shopping local markets are other methods of shopping that do not support the negative impacts of fast fashion, and going thrifting will save you money along with allowing you to find unique apparel.

16. Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads

Single-use makeup wipes can create waste fast if you’re using one every day of your trip. This is why opting for reusable makeup remover pads is the way to go if you love to get glam while traveling. 

These 100% natural bamboo makeup remover pads are gentle and suitable for all skin types. Made with biodegradable, compostable bamboo cotton, these organic makeup remover pads can be reused hundreds of times to reduce waste and save money. It includes a cotton laundry bag so you can easily tuck them away in your bag when getting ready for vacation!

P.S. Pair this with a face cleanser bar to keep your skin happy and healthy while on the road!

17. Scrubba Portable Laundry Bag

Getting laundry done while on the road can be a hassle, so carrying around a portable laundry bag is an eco-conscious way to save time, money, and the planet. 

A portable Scrubba laundry bag
Doing laundry while traveling is super easy with a portable laundry bag

Scrubba has two portable laundry bags, the original Scrubba wash bag (ideally suitable for medium loads), and a mini version for smaller loads. It has an internal washboard design that will clean your clothes in a fraction of the time, typically taking about 3-5 minutes per load. Its compact design allows you to take the world’s smallest washing machine with you on the go to save space and water.

The bag is electricity-free and gives you the freedom to wash your clothes anywhere in the world. After the wash, it can also be used as a dry bag or dirty laundry bag.

18. Compostable Q-Tips

I always have to have Q-tips when going on a trip, but they are harmful to the environment as they are single-use and can get swept into our oceans or waterways. 

Bamboo cotton swabs are a great alternative as they are 100% biodegradable and made using Earth-friendly materials and methods. They are multi-purpose as well and can be used for removing makeup, cleaning tight spaces, and applying creams or skincare.

19. Solar Panel Charger

Having a battery pack that you can recharge without power is a super convenient eco-friendly travel accessory that can help you stay connected and save the planet from anywhere in the world. 

A portable solar panel charger

This solar charger power bank uses four solar panels to power your electronics, with two USB-A ports and one USB-C. This is a great addition for avid campers and outdoor enthusiasts, but also for travelers and digital nomads who may not know when they’ll have access to electricity next. 

The power bank is compact and affordable, along with being great for the environment as you can use renewable energy (sunlight) to power all your electronics.

20. Collapsible Food Containers

Another great addition to your zero-waste travel essentials is collapsible food containers. These compact food carriers help you avoid food waste, take your food on the go, and can be used as an alternative to a single-use to-go box or plastic bag. 

Made with platinum food-grade silicone, these containers allow you to snack sustainably while on the road.

21. Metal Safety Razor

Disposable plastic razors are not recyclable and create more waste for our planet when they’re discarded after use. Opting for a metal safety razor is a much more sustainably responsible choice as they’re reusable and you only need to replace the blades. 

The razor and blades are built for durability, leading to a long-lasting and cost-effective option for traveling with a razor. While you can bring the razor in your carry-on, the blades do need to be placed in a checked bag for travel.

A few sustainable travel essentials in a jar
Choosing a metal safety razor is an eco-friendly necessity for traveling

By simply switching out your typical single-use or damaging products for durable products made with responsible materials, you can reduce your footprint while traveling. In addition, many of them will save you time and money due to their reusable and long-lasting aspects. 

All of these essentials were hand-picked by a traveler for travelers, so let me know if you decide to try these out on your next trip!

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