by Leoni
Travel Essentials - Softback Travel

Our favorite eco-friendly travel products will help you reduce your waste, be more mindful of your surroundings and protect the planet while exploring it.


“Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference.

If you have ever seen ‘travel-sized’ plastic packages polluting pristine beaches in the remotest corners of the world, you know that’s true.

While responsible tourists these days try to avoid unnecessary flights, offset their carbon footprint and book green accommodation, smaller details can easily get overlooked.

Yet, in our throwaway culture daily life items like bags, cups, and bottles are – if not sustainable -just as dangerous for our environment and wildlife.

With 1.5 billion international tourists recorded in 2019, you can imagine how the amount of litter that pollutes our oceans adds up.

We know that it’s not always easy to stick to eco-friendly habits when you’re away from home. That’s why we have put together a list of the most useful essentials for every eco-friendly traveler.

(This article contains affiliate links. If you would like to learn more, please read our affiliate disclaimer.)

Essentials

eco-friendly travel products - essentials

Face Mask

First things first – always wear your face mask. But don’t use the disposable ones that are already being washed up on beaches throughout the world.

There are a number of great and safe alternatives that are washable and reusable.

There are lots of options on Amazon, such as this one.

Face Mask Tree Tribe

Packing Cubes

No more stressful searches for that one particular shirt somewhere in the middle of your backpack and no more dirty clothes all over your fresh laundry – packing cubes will revolutionize your way of traveling.

These ones are made from organic cotton. You can check the best price on Amazon here.

Organic Cotton Packing Cubes

Pocket-Sized Wash Bag

May I introduce: Your own portable washing machine in mini format! This great invention saves you time and money while traveling.

The bag with a flexible internal wash board allows you to clean your clothes within minutes, yet guarantees fresh laundry and great comfort!

Scrubba is available on Amazon. Check the best price here.

Turkish Towel

If you are an avid traveler, you already know how much easier life can get with a travel towel/ turkish towel. It is light, compact, and dries within minutes.

There are endless uses for turkish towels. You can utilize it as bath towel, hand towel, tablecloth, beach towel, blanket… and even wear it!

This one is made from 100% all-natural bamboo, which gives its signature silky feel. 

Check the best price on wildlandorganics.com.

Turkish Towel

Mosquito Repellent

Bug spray should be an essential item on the packing lists of almost all travelers (unless you are going to the North Pole I guess).

Not only will it provide a good night’s rest (without that constant buzzing sound right next to your ear), and prevent dozens of itchy bites. In some areas, it also protects you from Malaria and other diseases.

If you are familiar with the basics of responsible travel practices, you probably already know that the most important thing is to look out for DEET-free mosquito repellent.

This plant-based option is available on Amazon.

Deet-free mosquito spray

Electronics

eco-friendly travel products - electronics

Solar Power Bank

A solar power bank is a must-have for every outdoor lover. It recharges fully within a few hours in the sun and will allow you to charge all your devices in the middle of nowhere.

Attach the compact battery to your backpack with a carabiner and travel worry-free on your next trip!

You can check out one of our favorites on renogy.com or on Amazon.

Solar Charger Renogy

Solar Powered Torches

A little torch can be a lifesaver when you’re wild camping, for sunrise hikes, midnight strolls and all kinds of emergencies.

To make sure that you don’t have to worry about flat batteries, bring a solar powered one. It goes without saying that this is also the eco-friendly option.

Renogy offers a great solar torch here.

Renogy Solar Torch
Read: Campervan Solar Panel (All You Need To Know)

Pela Case

Studies have found that buying a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using an existing phone for an entire decade. Protecting yours basically helps to save trees and stop deforestation.

Pela has made a great step towards a waste free future by inventing the world’s first biodegradable phone case.

All of their cases (for iPhone and Android) are free of lead, cadmium, BPA and phthalates, and protect your phone from damage on your adventures around the world.

You can find more about Pela and why we love the brand + 3 great alternatives here.

Pela Case

Kindle

Books are awesome, there’s no question about it. But have you ever traveled with more than one book? If you have (and especially if you were backpacking), I bet you regretted it pretty quickly.

A Kindle allows you to carry millions of book around – definitely worth an investment for every book worm out there.

Kinde is available on Amazon here.

Kindle

Food & Drinks

eco-friendly travel products - food and drinks

Reusable Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is one of the eco-friendly travel products that you will most likely use daily. Think of all the plastic you will save by just filling up your own bottle instead of buying disposable ones!

If you are in an area where it is not recommended to drink the water from the tap, use water purification tablets or a life straw.

Check out our favorite on treetribe.com!

eco-friendly water bottle

Tea Tumbler

Love tea?

Bring your travel tea tumbler along wherever you go! It is the perfect portable container for hot and cold brew tea or iced and loose leaf tea, since a convenient strainer is included.

Ecovessel‘s insulated coffee and tea travel mug  keeps drinks cold up to 36 hours and hot up to 8 hours.

Tea Tumbler

Keep Cup

Instead of drinking your coffee or tea from a to-go cup, just ask if you can get your hot drink filled straight into your own reusable cup.

Alternatively, fill it up at home, in your hotel or on your camp site and take your morning coffee with you wherever you want!

We love the Keep Cup, which is available on Amazon here.

Carabiner Mug

Especially for camping trips, a carabiner mug is practical.

Attach it to your belt or backpack and always be ready for the next coffee, anywhere, anytime!

This one is also great as a gift for your favorite van life buddy!

You will find creative designs and more minimalistic styles on Amazon.

Covid Mug

Reusable Cutlery

Especially on camping trips and van adventures (but also for long bus or train rides), a reusable cutlery set is one of the most useful eco-friendly travel products of all time.

Not only will you never waste plastic cutlery again, it is also super convenient. You can find it for a great price here.

Reusable Straws

Plastic straws are among the top ten items collected every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. They pose a real danger to sea turtles, albatross, fish and other ocean wildlife.

If you don’t want to stop using straws completely, replace the plastic with reusable straws. Check this set out here.

Food Containers

A healthy alternative to plastic storage: stainless steel containers (with silicone lid) that keep your food safe from contaminants found in plastic, such as BPA, PVC, and latex.

The air-tight seal keeps your food’s nutrients and flavors and the container is dishwasher safe.

We use the one from Eco Vessel. You can view it on their website here.

Food Container

Toiletries

eco-friendly travel products - toiletries

Soap & Shampoo Bar

There are many reasons why shampoo bars are on the list of our favorite eco-friendly travel products. They are much smaller than the average shampoo bottle, and thus take up much less space in your backpack, yet they last longer!

Our favorite is the Ethique bar. It is completely biodegradable, and made of all-natural and organic ingredients. Read more about why we love this shampoo and what the brand does to give back here.

Ethique Shampoo Bar

Hemp Washcloth

Made from 100% natural hemp, this washcloth will leave your skin energized and radiant – and you ready for the next adventure!

Hemp also boasts natural antibacterial properties, which makes it a great eco-friendly travel essential.

We use the one from Wildland Organics, which you can view here.

Hemp Washcloth

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

As responsible tourists, we need to ensure that our oceans are protected from harmful chemicals. While there are many factors that we can’t control (for example practices like oil and gas extraction), we can make a difference with our choices.

Reef-safe sunscreen is one of those choices. Read more about our the eco-friendly sunscreens we recommend and find the best option for you!

Think Sport Eco-friendly sunscreen

Compostable Toothbrushes

According to a study by Foreo, 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away annually in the United States. Can you fathom that?

The good news is that there is a way to not add to the 50 million pounds of toothbrush waste added to US landfills every year. Bamboo toothbrushes clean your teeth AND your environment.

One great option is this one, available on Amazon.

bamboo toothbrush
Read: 8 Best Selling Bamboo Products

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be used for so many things. It helps with mosquito bites or smaller scratches you get on your adventures, and it keeps your skin healthy and fresh.

Make sure to choose pure, organic, cruelty-free and non GMO certified oil. Our favorite is made by Clinganic and available here.

Coconut Oil

Another useful multitasker is coconut oil. Not only does it help heal mosquito bites and sunburns, it is also an all-in-one beauty tool. You can use it as a moisturizer for your skin and hair, or simply as lip balm. Plus, it smells amazing!

To round it off, coconut oil is also great for cooking. Pack it; you won’t regret it! View Sky Organics extra virgin coconut oil on Amazon here.

eco-friendly coconut oil

Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups don’t contain chemicals found in tampons and pads, such as bleach and dioxin, some of which are known to cause cancer in humans.

After the disposable menstrual products have ended up in landfills, those chemicals are then released as pollution into groundwater and air.

For more info, read these environmental reasons to switch to a menstrual cup. To check the best price, click here.

Deodorant Bar

Another favorite in our eco-friendly travel products collection: the ethique deodorant bar. 100% vegan and cruelty-free, palm oil-free, ethically sourced and free from plastic (from packaging to shipping!).

Plus, each year 20% of their profit goes to charities fighting to protect the planet!

Again, you can read why Ethique is one of our favorite go-to brands here.

Compressed Wipes

Compact and lightweight wipes are great for camping, RVing, road trips, backpacking, preppers, glove box, gym bag, or just your purse.

They are durable and reusable, as well as biodegradable! (Check the best price on Amazon.)


Already know where you’re going?

Check out our packing lists with eco-friendly travel products for a specific country!

Packing list for Canada
Packing List South Africa
Packing List for Greece

Further reading:

22 Responsible Tourism Tips

How To Be A Water-Conscious Traveler