9 Top Packing Tips For Eco-Friendly Travel

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Uncategorized

9 Top Packing Tips For Eco-Friendly Travel

To take or not to take, when travelling – that is the question.

If you’re feeling compelled to do your bit and become an eco-friendly traveller, great! Firstly, you’re in the perfect place.

Secondly, your first steps are much easier than you might think.

It all begins by asking yourself some simple questions and thinking about the 3 sustainability “Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Questions to ask yourself include:

  • How much do I (really) need to take?
  • Can I make do 2ith the clothes and supplies I already have?
  • Do I really need that? Have I already got something similar?

This might sound less exciting than hitting the shops but switching up your approach to travel, giving yourself this mini challenge to simplify your life is guaranteed to be far more fulfilling. Plus that good feeling will last much longer than the initial thrill of any new purchase.

So, here it is 9 packing tips for eco-friendly, responsible travel.

Whether you adopt all 9 ways or decide to pick 2-3 initially, each action will add up, influence those around us and make a huge difference.


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“More was never the answer. The answer, it turned out, was always less.” — Cait Flanders

1. Say “No” More Often Than “Yes”

From thousands of plastic water bottles lining the walkways in airports, to disposable plastic cutlery offered at the till. From those individually plastic wrapped sweets, to those convenient travel wet-wipes that are on offer (again) – just say no.

Or at least say no more often than yes.

By playing the fun travel game I like to call ‘saying no more often than yes’ you’ll be well on your way to becoming an eco-friendly traveller.


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2. Ask Yourself The Question

Do I really need another bikini for this holiday, when I already have 3? Do the kids need another inflatable for the pool when there is one still in the garage?

I get it, it’s not easy. We live in a materialistic world where we are often led to believe that buying and acquiring more will make us happier and more successful. The opposite is true.

In fact, a psychologist found that the more highly people endorsed materialistic values, the more they experienced unpleasant feelings and depression.

So, before putting together a shopping list ahead of your trip, determine whether something is a true want and need by giving yourself enough space to think it through.

A good gauge is if you’re still thinking about the item or purchase weeks or months later, then it’s probably a true want or need.

These 3 questions form a quick checklist before making any purchase:

  1. Do I really need it?
  2. How often will I use it?
  3. Can I afford this?


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3. If You Must Shop, Research The Brand First

If you must make a purchase, make sure it’s a ‘good’ brand. It’s essential that you do your research first.

If you can’t pick an ethical, eco-friendly brand for every item, how about just the main items? It’s better to take a few conscious decisions than none at all.

A sustainable buy for your next holiday could be made from eco-friendly, chemical-free or upcycled materials, they will last for the long haul, they’ll avoid animal testing at all costs, or support a social impact initiative.

Condé Nast Traveller created 21 eco-travel accessories here which include sunglasses that provide critical eye care in Africa, to bikinis made from ocean waste.

The creativity and innovation already out there make you wonder why you’d support any other type of purchase.

But be warned. With 1,000’s of brands slapping the word “sustainable” or “eco” on labels, it’s up to the consumer to decode what that actually means, since it’s largely unregulated and greenwashing is now rife.

Just as you’d read the ingredients on a food label, it’s important to do the same when buying your travel supplies. Below are some useful links to decoding the world of ethical brands.

For clothing – https://goodonyou.eco/

For any brand – https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/find-a-b-corp


4. Pack & Wear Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Before packing last year’s half-finished sunscreen bottle or heading to Boots for a fresh bottle, take a moment to think about the sunscreen you plan to use.

Why? Because it has the potential to harm the destinations you’re planning to visit and yourself.

The truth is most sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that lead to coral bleaching, increase the risk of disease in coral, disrupt the human endocrine system, and even impair the reproductive abilities of fish.

Even if you don’t enjoy swimming in the ocean, showering off the sunscreen will eventually end up in the rivers and oceans.

Whilst reef-safe labels can be helpful, and are a step in the right direction it’s worth keeping in mind that this is still unregulated and that you cannot 100% trust them.

Always check the ingredients before purchasing. Chemicals to avoid in your sunscreen include:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Any nanoparticles (if it doesn’t explicitly say “micro-sized” or “non-nano” and it can rub in, it’s probably nano-sized)
  • Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads”


5. If It’s That Time of the Month

The average woman uses 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.

Once tossed in the trash, pads and tampons mostly end up in landfills before they break down into microplastics that pollute our rivers and oceans and enter our water supply.

Thanks to these harmful microplastics, scientists estimate that the average person consumes “a credit card’s worth” of plastic each week.

Furthermore, the Marine Conservation Society found 20 tampons and sanitary items per 100 metres of shoreline in their 2016 beach clean-up.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are so many incredible companies already out there (and no, Tampax is not one of them) that make doing the right thing easier than ever.

Below are just a few alternative options for making your periods eco-friendly, whether you’re travelling or in everyday living.

  1. The Reusable Mooncup 
  2. Dame’s Reusable Tampon Applicator 
  3. Honour Your Flow’s Reusable Pads 
  4. Wuka’s Period UnderWear 


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6. Pack Your Own Snacks

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” as the saying goes. As an eco-conscious traveller, planning ahead is everything.

Purchasing overpriced plastic-wrapped sandwiches or salads along with unhealthy snacks on the hoof is so easy when you travel. But let’s be honest, it never feels good afterwards.

It all begins with preparing your own food for the journey ahead. This way you can ensure it’s nutritious, free from plastic, or even pesticide-free by going organic if that’s your style.

Not only this, thinking about what you eat has the single biggest impact on the planet. More than any carbon-offsetting programme you could possibly buy into.

Below are just a few plant-based snack and lunch ideas which are better for you, your health and the planet.

Putting together your very own ‘zero-waste travel kit’ is great fun – from a stainless steel lunchbox, to a refillable coffee cup, a metal straw and a bamboo cutlery set. Single-use plastics and disposables will soon be a thing of the past.

Beeswax wraps will be a great addition to your eco-friendly travel bag.

Not only will your wallet thank you, so will your waistline, well-being and the planet.


7. Pack Something For Someone Else

When packing to go away on holiday, thinking about leaving a small space in your suitcase to help someone in need is a great step towards an eco-friendly and responsible trip.

Pack for a Purpose helps us to pause and think outside ourselves before we head off on an adventure or for a relaxing break away.

Pack for a Purpose is a brilliant organisation that connects travellers with local organisations in over 60 countries. Their online platform gives you the choice to select by destination or by an initiative that lies closest to your heart. Whether it be animal welfare, health or education.

By using the extra space in your suitcase, you can bring and donate much-needed supplies and resources to where it matters most.

Small Space, Little Effort, Big Impact.


8. Rethink Your Shampoo & Soap

As an eco-friendly traveller, thinking through your wash bag and toiletries is a real game changer.

The harsh chemicals in regular shampoo not only strip your hair of its natural oils, they are also damaging the natural environments you’re travelling to and getting to enjoy. As Nemo shares in the Pixar film, all drains lead to the ocean (eventually).

Not only this, natural, biodegradable shampoo is better for the environment. We often forget that this stuff washes down the drain and ends up in rivers and oceans.

Faith In Nature has been standing up for nature for over 40 years. They are still a family business and 99% of the ingredients are natural. This doesn’t mean they don’t have more steps to take in their sustainability journey which they are very transparent about on their website.

Below are some other elements to consider when putting together your travel wash bag. Keep in mind that these positive changes in your bathroom don’t need to be just for travel, but for everyday living.

  1. Choosing soap over bodywash is a great way to reduce plastic, but choosing biodegradable, ethically-sourced soap is the ultimate eco-friendly swap
  2. Razors are a staple item for most of us but guess what, they end up in landfills. Opt-in for a cool subscription like FFS that has its own in-house blade recycling scheme.
  3. There’s so many smell proof, non-toxic, aluminium and plastic free deodorants now on the market. Why would you use anything else?


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9. Pack a Journal

A trip away, whether a big adventure or short escape for a weekend, doesn’t have to end in the destination. It can continue once you’re back home and back into the swing of your routine.

By packing a journal you’ll be tapping into a beautiful step to being a more eco-friendly and responsible traveller.

Instead of reaching for the phone, try and reach for your journal whilst away. This one change alone will have a profound impact guaranteed.

Noting down thoughts at the end of the day, or jotting down ideas that pop into your mind when in a new environment, or surrounded by different people is a wonderful element of travel which most people miss out on.

This isn’t necessarily about turning your life upside down, it can be small points of references or changes which relate to your lifestyle.

By packing in your suitcase a small journal, it’ll prompt a time for reflection. Something we as humans often neglect.

Whether it’s reflecting upon a more minimalist approach, a reconsideration of our consumption habits, thinking about relationships, our connection to nature, or feeling positively inspired by how others around the world live – just 5-10 minutes a day can reveal more than you know.

Once the trip is long over, going back to these reflection points the following week, month or year will be worth more than the trip itself.

Written by Rebecca Woolford