eco friendly travel packing list


Mindful Travel: Your New Packing Check List + Tips

Published May 8th, 2019

Right this second, there are epic proportions of plastic scattered across the planet - to the tune of 8.35 billion tonnes, with about 5.7 billion tonnes of it being waste. Next level crazy, right?

But all it takes is a few thoughtful changes - additions or substitutes - to make your suitcase more green and friendly for the planet. Because you know how the saying goes… every little bit counts.

Responsible travel really is the only way forward!

Packing tips

Firstly, get your approach to packing up to scratch to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling. Because the more you pack, the more weight you carry - on the plane, on buses - which ultimately means more fuel consumption, so bad for the environment. So pack consciously!

Make a list of the things you need (we’ve done most of it for you - see below!)

And stick to it. Don’t go overboard adding extra this and extra that ‘just in case’. Stick to your holiday pack list, then review and see if there’s anything more you can remove.

Choose a smaller, lightweight bag.

Less space means less temptation to over pack (it’s also easier to cart around - thank us later). To make everything fit, we’re all for rolling over folding, then slip smaller items into the nooks and creases and pop all toiletries and lighter bits at the top. Got an eco-friendly bag made of recycled materials? Even better.

Consider using packing cells, dry sacs or lightweight organic cotton bags.

In case you want to keep certain items contained or separated. They’re especially handy for keeping your shoes from dirtying other clothes, instead of a plastic bag. Dedicated dry sacs offer total protection from bag leaks too. Ziplock bags are a big no-no. Why? Because they usually go straight to landfill and take forever to break down. 

The responsible traveler’s packing check list

Now, the eco-friendly/green/sustainable/responsible travel packing checklist for every traveller, to help leave minimal impact on the planet.

1. A reusable ecofriendly water bottle

Don’t fall for the trap of buying plastic bottle after plastic bottle. Take your fave high-quality reusable water bottle everywhere you go (and home again).

If the local water quality is going to be iffy where you’re headed, pack water sterilising tablets or consider buying a steripen to sterilise local water sources on the go.

2. Biodegradable soap and shampoo bars

Bars, you ask? Yep. Solid soap and shampoo bars are where it’s at. With no plastic casing required, simply carry them in a small tin instead. You can also find body butter sticks instead of lotion, solid face washes, solid bug repellant and solid perfumes.

As a bonus - solid products tend to last longer, won’t leak and won’t explode in your bag on the plane (phew).

3. Other toiletries in reusable bottles

Can’t find it in bar form? Don’t even think about those travel size bottles that’ll only last a week or two! Instead of buying into the packaging, buy reusable containers and refillable toiletries bottles and top them up with products you already have at home.

On that note - opt for eco-friendly products that are all-natural and biodegradable to keep nasty chemicals out of the waterways. And always avoid aerosols, which emit not-so-great gases into the atmos.

4. Reusable bag or tote bag

So you’re always prepared wherever you go - no more plastic bags at fashion stores, grocery stores and other unexpected places. Some cute reusable bags fold down to the size of nifty little credit card, and some are even made from upcycled fabrics like hammock strands or recycled tees.

5. A quick-dry microfibre towel

Save the hotel - but really, the planet - all that water used in washing towels if you’re only staying one night or two. Being microfibre it’ll dry quicker too, and pack up small.

6. Solar powered or wind-up flashlight

Goodbye single-use batteries. Hello solar power (or finger power).

7. Reusable food containers

Even if just one multi-purpose container… to get those leftovers take-away for later or carry snacks for the day (ie. sneaky extras from the breakfast buffet table).

Another tip - supermarkets the globe over are renowned for their unnecessary packaging, so pick up those snacks at fresh produce markets and local cafes and bakeries. Plus - then the food is extra fresh!

8. Reusable utensils and a keep cup

Why? So you don’t wind up using one-use plastic forks at take-away joints and spoons to stir your coffee. Avid coffee drinker? Pack a reusable coffee cup or keep cup (for wine and beer too of course).

9. A reusable straw (or NO straw at all)

Take a metal, glass or bamboo straw. Or even better: just remember to say “no straw” every time you order a drink. Disposable plastic straws are notoriously bad - especially for marine animals.

10. Good quality, low-impact travel clothing

Well-made, purpose-built travel clothing items last many, many years - through rocky bum scrapes, all of nature’s elements and endless washes and wears. So give it a go. Just be sure to opt for brands that make clothes from sustainable, eco-friendly fibres, or even out of recycled plastics.

11. An organic cotton scarf

Use it as a picnic rug on grass, a towel or for sun protection at the beach, or as a blanket in air-conditioned planes and shops. You could also use it to hide or cover your camera and valuables, place in your daypack for extra padding or concealment, or to cover-up your skin out of cultural respect when entering a temple, mosque or monastery. Its multi-purpose uses are endless. Just be sure to pick one that’s organic cotton.


Tijana Jaksic

After some hardcore scrimping and saving, Tijana’s first backpacking trip confirmed she was onto something good. She hasn’t stopped since. Fave memories to date include dancing with locals in the streets of Havana, bartering for too many scarves in the markets of India, getting lost in the bustle of Hong Kong, sipping cocktails in the Greek Islands and jumping off waterfalls in Croatia. Now she gets to write about travel for a living – the best way to satiate the wanderlust between adventures.