It’s almost impossible to travel and be 100% sustainable. Traveling in and of itself is inherently not sustainable, but if it’s your passion like mine, it’s non-negotiable. I’m going to book that flight if I can afford it and the best thing I can do is try to reduce my impact.
Traveling sustainably in this modern age is more important than ever. The travel and tourism industry has such a massive impact on the environment as a whole but also has an economic and social impact in different countries. Especially those in the global south.
For marginalized communities, POC, and LGBTQ travelers, venturing off into the unknown will look very different from how I, for example, would navigate the world. Sometimes taking the most sustainable option just is not possible, and that’s ok.
For those who can, we should all try to lessen our impact on the planet while traveling. We can start by thinking about how we pack and what we bring on our travels. In this article, I’ll go through some of the tried-and-true sustainable travel items I pack on every adventure and what makes them sustainable!
Top 10 Sustainable Travel Items
This list goes beyond the typical bamboo toothbrush recommendation. I’m not here to sell you any greenwashed products (taking the toothbrush you already use is better, anyways). These products will help you travel more sustainably in the long run without asking you to buy heaps of unnecessary “green,” “eco,” or “organic” items. No fuss, no muss, just sustainable travel.
This compression sack is something you might not have seen unless you’re an avid camper. Essentially it helps by squishing your sleeping bag into a manageable size, making it easier to fit in your bag. This concept can easily be translated when it comes to packing clothes and reducing your checked bag to a carry-on.
The more weight you put on an airplane means added fuel and more co2 pumped into the atmosphere. Buying a compression sack to help compress your clothes can make it easier to bring still what you want but travel with a carry-on only, becoming more eco-friendly in the process!
Sawyer Water Filter
My favorite travel companion is a Sawyer Water Filter. This water filter allowed me to drink water in the most remote parts of Nepal, India, and Vietnam without getting sick. I swear by it. Ditch the excessive plastic water bottles and garbage that are sometimes necessary in developing nations.
My other favorite travel companion and a necessity when using a water filter. Getting a quality, easy-to-clean, reusable water bottle with the least moving parts is very important. I also wouldn’t spend a fortune on a Hydroflask or fancy bottle as long as it’s BPA-free.
True Earth Laundry Sheets
To help with packing light, it helps to do your laundry on the road! Sometimes laundry services can be inaccessible while traveling, or they aren’t using the best methods to protect the environment. True Earth Laundry Sheets are biodegradable, plastic-free, and come in slim packaging that’s easy to pop into your carry-on!
Scrubba Wash Bag
This washing bag changed my life. I used to clean a sink or bucket, hand wash, and rinse my laundry. To be honest, it was time-consuming and ineffective. This bag is easy to use. Just pop in your laundry, water, and laundry sheet and roll to wash your clothes. Rinse using new water and the same bag, then hang to dry. It makes discrete sock washing a breeze!
Biodegradable Beauty Products
When traveling, it is important to look for biodegradable beauty products to avoid contaminating waterways any further. Switching any items will do. You can start by testing a few at home and seeing what works for you. Here’s a list of what I usually pack.
- Lush toothy tabs
- Natural soap
- Biodegradable shampoo and conditioner
- Aluminum-free deodorant
- Mineral sunscreen
- Menstrual cup
I am guilty of purchasing many horrible soap cases before I found this one. A quality soap case will hold your soap and offer proper drainage, keeping things clean and reducing the amount of soap that is wasted when you get that layer of soap slime on the bottom (ew)
Packable Rain Jacket
Through my travels in Asia, when it rained, all I saw was a sea of one-time-use plastic ponchos. Sure those are a lifesaver in a pinch, but that thin plastic breaks down into microplastics or clogs up essential waterways. Avoid all of that waste with a packable rain jacket.
Packable Day Bag
A second or third bag is essential when shopping or traveling around for the day, and one that packs down really small is even better! This bag packs down really well and has multiple pockets for all your storage needs.
A dry bag is a great tool to have in your carry-on. It can act as a laundry bag, day bag, shopping bag, and more. The bonus is you can use it to store items you want to keep dry when visiting the beach, in a rainstorm, or on a boat.
Check out my full list of travel must-haves on my Amazon Storefront!
Tell me some of your favorite sustainable travel items in the comments!