The first thing I did when starting my green journey was to sit down and think, “What do I use the most, that I could easily swap just to make a quick but effective difference?”. Household products were the first thing to come to mind, but eco-friendly travel products were certainly not far behind.
If you love to travel (which I’m sure you do seeing as you’re on an adventure travel site right now), then you’ve got to consider the footprint you’re leaving behind. You also want to make sure that you’re traveling as light as possible – which a lot of these products allow you to do.
The term “eco-friendly travel products” may fill your mind with doubt, wondering if these products will still do the job and are robust enough to withstand travel and being shoved in a backpack when you’re in a rush!
The answer is quite simply, yes.
A lot of companies that produce eco-friendly travel products are determined to show that there is an alternative product out there that is not damaging the planet and often produced using recycled materials. It’s super fascinating and wonderful to see!
Try out some, if not all, of the products on this list, and put them to the test yourself!
Eco-Friendly Travel Toiletries
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Who always goes over their liquid limit at the airport? Do you always have to deal with the embarrassment of deciding which item to abandon, or argue with security saying that you absolutely NEED all of those items?
Yeh, that first bit’s me.
If you’re traveling with checked-in luggage as well as hand luggage, then this doesn’t apply to you as you have the luxury of your second bag!
This is where shampoo and conditioner bars save the day. If you haven’t heard of shampoo and conditioner bars, they are precisely what they sound like – not going to try to spruce it up for you. They look very similar, if not the same, to a bar of soap, and work in a very similar way. You get them wet, create a lather, and then rub that into your hair!
I found it to be quite a strange adjustment when I bought my first bars, but after a few showers and a bit of practice, I soon got used to them – and they save me that all-important liquid allowance in my hand luggage.
A few quick facts about why Ethique’s bars are great to use: they last significantly longer than your conventional bottle of shampoo/conditioner, they don’t have a trace of plastic on or in them, and they use entirely natural ingredients! They’re also cruelty-free and vegan!
Can’t get much better than that, can you?
Bamboo q-tips are a great, straightforward, eco-friendly travel product that a lot of people may not even know about!
Ideally, you may already have a reusable q-tip that you use on a daily basis at home; however, I would suggest for the purposes of traveling, that you take some disposable ones as well as, or instead of your reusable one.
This is for 2 main reasons; one, q-tips are small, and even with the super cute handy cases that come with LastSwab, you could potentially lose it. You’re then stuck with nothing to use and will no doubt have to go and buy some plastic ones from the store.
Two, you don’t want to be spending your holiday/travels cleaning stuff, and you may not have time or access to clean water when you need it!
So take some bamboo q-tips that will happily biodegrade once you’re done with them – I use these, and they’ve never let me down. I certainly can’t tell the difference between them and my old plastic ones!
There’s a slight debate over which is more eco-friendly: an electric toothbrush or a bamboo one – but for travel purposes, I’m going to recommend getting your hands on a bamboo toothbrush.
You want to save space when packing, especially if you’re backpacking, and taking an electric toothbrush means you’ll need a charger and several different adaptors if you’re going to multiple countries on one trip.
Bamboo toothbrushes allow you to still carry a disposable toothbrush, but will break down in 5 to 10 years instead of the 400 + years that a plastic toothbrush takes! I don’t know about you, but that freaks me out! What a long time for something to be hanging around for.
If you’ve got a compost bin, your bamboo toothbrush can compost in 4 to 6 months, and if you’re really trying to reduce your waste, you can upcycle it and use it for cleaning, arts & crafts, or as garden markers!
Want to get all of your bamboo goodies at once, including floss, toothbrush & q-tips? Check out Bamboogalloo’s multipack here. (Yes, I know the name is a bit of a mouthful).
Reusable Safety Razor
Safety razors are a recent discovery of mine, but I have to say, I’m delighted with my choice!
Not only are they pretty to look at (guys, I know you won’t care about this, so just bear with me), but they give you a much closer shave than a conventional, plastic razor – from my experience anyway. My razor also came with an in-depth digital user manual, which was super helpful, considering I had never used a safety razor before!
Razors are an item you don’t want to forget while traveling or going on holiday, as you’ll constantly be wearing shorts, skirts, and cute dresses, and hairy legs don’t exactly compliment the look (men excluded, of course!).
With safety razors, the only thing you have to replace is the blade itself, which you can generally order from the same place/website that you bought the razor from.
Soap Travel Tin
I love tins. I know that’s a strange statement to start with, but they’re just so handy. You can personalize them and use them for collecting things, planting things, or maybe even packaging a gift!
The possibilities are endless, and tin is a great sustainable material. Just make sure to go for an aluminum tin, as this means it won’t rust if it gets exposed to water!
Getting on to the travel aspects of tins, they’re great for storing your soap – whether that’s shampoo and conditioner bars, or body soap, they do the job and stop you from needing to buy body/hair wash in plastic bottles!
They also come in handy when you’re in a rush and need to pack your things quickly, because your soap may not be completely dry but your tin will protect all of your other items in your bag by containing the slimy soap. (I realize using the word slimy may have put you off soap bars there, but trust me, they’re fantastic!).
Hopefully, you’ll all have some kind of deodorant that you use daily – I would be pretty concerned if you didn’t, but each to their own, I guess.
Anyhow, moving on, having deodorant while traveling is a hygiene must, in my opinion. Everyone who’s been to a hot country and got on any form of public transport would back me up on this.
If you take a look at conventional deodorant, everything on it is plastic! It’s kind of shocking if you think about it, how many everyday items you don’t realize are made entirely from plastic, and how easy it is to throw them away without considering where they might end up.
Wild has found a solution, offering a refillable case made from aluminum and recycled plastic. You just choose your color, and then have your favorite scent delivered right to your door! It’s stylish and super slim, which makes it an excellent travel item as it won’t take up unnecessary space in your bag.
Biodegradable Hygiene/Wet Wipes
Hygiene/wet wipes can be a total lifesaver when traveling.
I remember when I was backpacking around Bali, sometimes we weren’t in a place where there was a proper toilet, and we were greeted with a hole in the ground! We also stayed in certain places where you just could not bring yourself to use the shower!
Not selling Bali very well, am I? Other than some of the scary toilets, it was the best place I’ve ever been to, promise!
That’s where hygiene wipes became my best friend. You could freshen up at any time, even if you just wanted to put some new deodorant on and wipe off any dust, sand, or dirt you had lurking around – hygiene wipes did the job.
These biodegradable wet wipes are perfect for these exact situations, and you don’t have to worry about where they’re going to end up after you’re done with them.
Reusable Period Pants
Okay, guys, I’ll allow you to skip this one – unless you think your girlfriend would appreciate you buying her a pair of these? They’re not exactly cheap!
Reusable period products have become more and more popular over the past 6 months, with several companies doing fantastically with their sales! You may not think they qualify to be on your eco-friendly travel products list, and they don’t if you’re a guy, but depending on the time of the month, they’re an essential item for us girls!
Plus, ladies, let’s face it, none of us enjoy our period. We also hate period items – and I hate the waste they produce. A used period product is definitely not something you want to imagine sitting around for a long time. But, that’s precisely what they do, for roughly anywhere between 500 to 800 YEARS! Baffling.
Thinx offers a HUGE range of period undies that are leak-free, washable, and in my opinion, can be quite stylish! They also save you the worry of where to dispose of your sanitary items (if you’re on the road, this can be a tough week if you’re not staying in the most hygienic of places anyway!).
Who knew that sunscreen had harmful chemicals in it that are dangerous to marine life? Not me six months ago.
You may think, well hold on, it’s not like we’re squirting sunscreen into the sea, but imagine millions of people all wearing sunscreen, going into the ocean daily. The sunscreen they have on them will be slowly but surely coming off in the water and harming coral.
If you’re someone who is continuously in the sea, then this is an eco-friendly travel product you’ll want to invest in.
The main chemicals you want to make sure you’re avoiding are oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals have been proven to harm aquatic life and are also suspected of causing health problems for humans.
So the question is, as beach lovers, what can we do?
Well, fortunately, there are a lot of brands out there that are trying to make a difference and have created ‘reef safe’ sunscreen. There are quite a few options, so I would recommend trying out a couple of different brands and seeing which one is your favorite!
If you’ve got sensitive skin, there’s Babo Botanicals sunscreen, or for people doing a lot of sport, you have the Thinksports range!
One unfortunate thing I found when hunting for eco-friendly sunscreen is that it’s pretty much all in plastic tubes! Not helpful.
If anyone can find one that’s packaged in a more sustainable material – please comment below; I would love to check it out!
Toothpaste In A Jar/Tabs
Another way to reduce your plastic usage and be a greener traveler is to change your toothpaste. This is one of the less-obvious products but is actually a major culprit for plastic pollution, with roughly 1.5 billion tubes being thrown away every year across the globe.
Again, you’ve got a couple of options when it comes to choosing which product to go for.
There are toothpaste powder that would save space in your liquid allowance if you have hand luggage only, but it can be quite an odd transition, to begin with!
Alternatively, you could opt for paste in a glass jar instead of a tube. Georganics has a great range of natural toothpaste, as well as bamboo toothbrushes, mouthwash tablets, and even eco-friendly floss!
Non-Toxic Insect Repellent
Who else gets covered in bites wherever they go? The only place I barely got any was in Bali, and that’s because I religiously applied mosquito repellent due to the more severe diseases that they can carry over there.
I have to admit, when I visit countries in Europe (for example, Spain, where I’m writing this from), I don’t bother, and sure enough, I’ve been bitten 3 times, and man, they’re itchy!
Most of you will have heard of DEET, right? Super effective for keeping bugs away, but pretty harmful to us, as well as animals like birds and aquatic life.
So, let’s look at some equally effective, eco-friendly insect repellent like Repel. It uses completely natural ingredients, meaning it has a natural scent, and lasts up to 6 hours.
One thing I will say is that everyone reacts differently to bug repellent. One product that might work for you could give someone else a bad rash or sting their skin, so always be careful when using them and maybe test it out on a small portion of your skin before you travel.
If you’re always on the move and don’t have time to be reapplying insect repellent all the time, try using bracelets instead. They’re arguably less effective, but some people claim they work wonders for them!
Eco-Friendly Travel Cups, Utensils, and More!
Reusable Water Bottle with A Built-in Filter
Making sure you’re drinking enough water in a hot country is a MUST. If you’re out hiking or exploring a new, unknown land, you don’t know when you’ll be able to get your next safe glass of water, so it’s essential to keep drinking water on you at all times.
Granted, in a lot of European countries, and certainly, in South East Asia, the tap water is not safe to drink, so you usually need to buy bottled water from the store. But, you guessed it, this isn’t exactly the most environmentally-friendly option.
Let me introduce you to the GRAYL ultralight water bottle. Before you gasp at the cost, think about never having to go to a store and buying a bottle of water again, and the convenience of being able to drink from it anywhere, at any time. The reviews speak for themselves, and I wish I had had one when I was in SEA.
If you already have a reusable water bottle or would like to go for a lighter packing option, you could opt for a Life Straw, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of before! This beauty allows you to drink from literally anywhere; you don’t even need a bottle or a glass, just drink straight from the river/stream you’re next to (just try not to fall in!).
If you feel like you need more convincing, check out my full article on Generation Gone Green on Why You Should Buy A Reusable Water Bottle.
Reusable Coffee Cups
If you’re someone who can’t function properly without a cup of coffee in the morning, I do genuinely feel for you. I personally have never drunk coffee in my life, which I often wonder if it’s a blessing or I’m majorly missing out. What do you think?
In any case, a reusable coffee cup is a fantastic eco-friendly travel product because you can use it wherever you go. And if you go for a collapsible one, once you’ve finished, you can shrink it down until your next cup! A tired backpackers’ best friend if you ask me.
One major perk of getting an insulated cup/bottle is that you can double this up as your water bottle because it will keep cold drinks cold similar to keeping your coffee hot!
Bamboo Cutlery Set
Okay, so, who goes camping? Or hiking and sets up camp in the absolute middle of nowhere? If you answered yes to that, you’re gonna need some cutlery. Unless you’re planning to eat with leaves/sticks, which I think may be taking it a bit far? Maybe slightly unsanitary? Yeah, glad you agree.
Anyhow, there are SO many bamboo cutlery sets to choose from. You can get a whole set of cutlery (knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, and straw & cleaner) so that you can use them for whatever you’re eating! (Minus the straw, that would be weird).
It’s also super satisfying when shops/restaurants try to hand you plastic cutlery if you’re grabbing a takeaway, and you can say no, and know you’ve got your eco-alternative right in your bag!
This is something that I recently added to my “eco-friendly travel products” list, as I realized when doing my food shopping for the apartment or villa, wherever I was staying, I was back to using plastic bags at the supermarket!
Not only are reusable shopping bags great for your food shop, but you can use them to separate things in your luggage if you’re not a fan of packing cubes! They’re also handy for clothes shopping or a trip down to the beach with your suncream, towel, and a few snacks in! Sounds like a perfect day to me.
When it comes to choosing a reusable bag, you’ve got a few options.
You could go for mesh bags that tend to be very light and suitable for food shopping, but not ideal for smaller items that can slip through! If you’re big on saving space, you’ll want some fold-away bags that, when not in use, can be tucked into little pockets like these foldable tote bags.
If you want more of a beach vibe look, and want to go the extra mile, this recycled Piermont Tote is just for you. It’s made from recycled cotton and certainly has holiday vibes written all over it (figuratively).
Collapsible tupperware is super handy for those days where you’re mainly in a car, bus, or train, and may not be stopping for food. Having some food already prepared that you can eat on the go can not only saves you time, but also gives you that energy boost you need to be ready for your next activity/hike.
If you’re self-catering where you’re staying, you can easily prep some food and pack this, take it with you, and collapse the container when you’re finished.
If you’re relying on food from your hostel or local restaurants, ask them for a takeaway portion, and hand them your Tupperware! This eliminates the need for the foam or plastic containers that they’ll no doubt use to wrap your food up.
For people who love scuba diving and marine life, you owe this to them to ditch plastic straws. Straws stick out well in my memory because of that awful picture you all must have seen of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose! It breaks my heart.
The first thing to ask yourself is, do you find it hard to drink without a straw? I often think it depends on what you’re drinking. If it’s icy and you have sensitive teeth, a straw can save you from pain and discomfort, whereas if it’s a room temperature drink, you don’t need one, do you?
Either way, straws aren’t necessarily the problem – it’s plastic, single-use ones that are the issue! When you’re on the road, it can be challenging to ask for no straw (language barriers), or control what kind of straw they give you, so why not take your own collapsible straw with you?
They’re easy to carry, take up basically no space, and ensure that you’re not contributing to the number of plastic straws used on a daily basis.
I know when I was in Bali and most European countries I’ve been to on holiday, every time I ask for a cocktail (get me!), they always come with at least one plastic straw – if not two! Time to bring out my reusable one.
If you’re not a fan of silicone and don’t think you’ll like the texture, you can also opt for metal options but bear in mind these aren’t collapsible!
Eco-Friendly Travel Bags and Packing Cubes
Let’s start with the thing that all of your other eco-travel products will be going into – your backpack.
If you’ve never heard of an eco-friendly backpack, then don’t be too hard on yourself because it doesn’t seem to be a hugely common thing. To be eco-friendly, you want to try to buy something that has minimal effect on the world around you, or buy something that has been repurposed or that can be reused instead of thrown out.
Now, the type of trip you’re going on will determine the kind of bag you want.
Rareform is an incredibly unique company that I recently discovered that produces a range of bags, including duffle bags and backpacks, made from repurposed billboard vinyl!
Fjällräven also has a massive selection of sustainable backpacks, as well as travel accessories, tents, and sleeping bags, as well as many other things! They’re dedicated to keeping their environmental impact as small as possible, and want to work with their team, as well as their customers, to ensure their products last you for years to come.
Now, before you go on a massive backpack shopping spree (I know how tempting it is), use what you’ve got first.
There’s nothing more frustrating than unnecessary waste, and throwing out your perfectly good backpack would be just that – wasteful. Most backpacks are not hugely damaging to the environment anyway, because they usually last you for years if you look after them properly.
If you repair any wear and tear as you go along, you may even have a bag that lasts you for life!
Packing Cubes Made From Recycled Plastic
I wish I had discovered packing cubes before I went to Bali. You should have SEEN my backpack. I had packed way too much and ended up not even needing half it, and we were moving around from hotel to hostel every couple of days, and it was a nightmare trying to find things, having to unpack, then repack my whole bag!
Packing cubes are fab anyway because they help you separate your items, organize them, and have quick access, but why not get packing cubes that are made out of recycled plastic bottles like these compression packing cubes.
Not only are they made from recycled materials, but they also compress your clothes down using extra zippers, meaning you can pack more!! I mean…get a smaller backpack.
I can’t emphasize enough how handy these beauties are – my god. If there was one thing I could not go without when traveling, it would be a bumbag.
Some people would strongly disagree with this statement and say maybe insect repellent or dioralyte was more important – but they’re all things you can buy once you get there, worst-case scenario. I used my bumbag from pretty much the minute I get off the plane.
I remember now before I owned one, I would laugh when people suggested getting one, thinking, “I would not be seen dead wearing a bumbag.” Then my priorities changed, and I realized when you’re traveling, you need to be careful, and you often need quite a few things regularly.
Having a bumbag allows you to keep your phone, money, ID, travel insurance info as well as other crucial items like your hotel room key, for example, close to you at all times.
Investing in a bumbag, and even better, a bumbag made from 100% recycled materials like the one from United by Blue, you have full access to everything you need and carry it on your front, which makes it so much more challenging for thieves to target you.
You can also see what you’re searching for – unlike lazy old me who used to reach for things in my backpack half-heartedly and blindly try and find something. Yeah, not smart. You’ll end up losing things and potentially causing yourself a lot of stress while you’re away.
There you have it! I could go on and on about eco-friendly travel products we can all use to help the planet, but I feel like this is a good place for you to start.
For more eco-friendly tips, please feel free to check out my blog or ask me a question below!
Check out these other articles on sustainable travel
- How to Travel Sustainably (7 Easy Tips for Any Traveler to Follow)
- Tentree Review: Sustainable Clothing Brand for Traveling
- Why We Choose to Support Sustainable Tourism