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Our Favorite Sustainable Gear for Eco-Friendly Travel

Person drinking from a reusable water bottle in the desert.



At the heart of it, sustainable travel is all about minimizing your negative impacts and maximizing your positive ones. You can do this in a number of ways: not driving your own personal car and instead using public transportation or just walking around when you need to explore, choosing to only book responsible tours that prioritize helping the environment and the local communities, or just solely buying and using less stuff overall.

But, another easy way to be a more sustainable and responsible traveler is to simply focus on using more eco-friendly goods and gear while abroad. This can be as easy as switching to a reusable water bottle so you don't have to keep buying (and eventually throwing away) plastic bottles every day. Or it can be as complex as focusing on only buying locally made goods and food (and even this doesn't have to be that hard).

By making simple and small changes to your travel gear set-up, you can help make a big positive impact on this world. Below we outline some of our favorite eco-friendly travel goods to help inform and inspire you to make the switch too.




\\ Toiletries


One of the easiest ways to cut down on your plastic use is to move away from large plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner and instead invest in an eco-friendly shampoo (and conditioner) bar.

We have been using shampoo bars for about a year now and we already know we will never go back to bottled shampoo. Why? Because bars are just a lot easier to carry (smaller, lighter, TSA-safe), they are very easy to use (just rub it into your scalp and voila), and finally, they work - really well.

Below are two great options if you are looking to make the switch to shampoo bars yourself:

| BUY IT: the Ethique St. Clements shampoo bar is great if you have oily hair.

| BUY IT: the earthling co. citrus sun shampoo bar is plant-based and contains NO sulfates or parabens.

💬 INSIDER TIP: we personally love the smell of the shampoo bar on the left - it's sweet, spicy, and leaves your hair feeling and smelling fresh for days.


Another easy way to reduce your plastic use is to switch over to natural oils that come in glass bottles instead of various lotions. You can use many different types of oils for your skin, hair and nails. We personally enjoy using jojoba oil for our faces, coconut oil for our skin and hair, and tea tree oil for sunburns, acne and bug bites (just be aware that the smell is quiiiiite strong).

Glass bottle of jojoba oil.

| BUY IT: this is the exact jojoba oil we have been using for a while and we really cannot recommend it enough. We found that the Leven Rose jojoba oil felt the best on our skin and caused way less breakouts than other oils. Plus, it comes in a glass bottle with an easy-to-use dropper (super handy).


An equally simple eco-friendly switch is to move away from plastic toothbrushes and instead use sustainable bamboo brushes - like the ones below. We have found that bamboo toothbrushes clean our teeth just as well as plastic brushes, while also being a bit softer on our gums.

👀 DID YOU KNOW: approximately 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out each year in the United States alone (so about 3 brushes per person). This leads to about 50 million pounds of plastic waste a year.

Wooden toothbrush set with sea turtle logo.

| BUY IT: these fun bamboo toothbrushes are not only easy to use, but the company (Sea Turtle LLC) also donates 10% of every purchase to marine conservation. A real win-win.

💬 INSIDER TIP: we have also gone back and forth with using toothpaste tablets. Sometimes we find some we like, but other times we feel like the tablets aren't cleaning our teeth very well. If you can, consider trying out toothpaste tablets at least once.


Lightweight, fast drying, easy to store. Microfiber adventure towels have definitely become one of our necessities during travel - both on and off the trail.

This one by Wise Owl is large enough to dry a whole person off, while still being light enough and easy enough to pack down that it can be stored in a backpack, day bag, or into your carry-on luggage when on the plane.

Wise Owl reusable microfiber travel towel.

| BUY IT: we have been traveling with this type of Wise Owl towel for years and it still holds up to everything we put it through (and we put it through a lot).


As we have gotten older, we have realized the real importance of protecting our skin. While it was once too easy to walk out the door without any sunscreen on (or even a hat and sunglasses), nowadays, we layer on that sun protection like our life depends on it.

While there are a lot of options when it comes to sunscreen, we choose to spend a little more and get stuff that is a bit better for the planet. Like sunscreen from Mad Hippie, a company that focuses on doing good for this planet by using only all-natural ingredients and giving back to conservation efforts. The company's sunscreen is benzene-free, coral reef safe, vegan and cruelty-free.

Sunscreen from Mad Hippie.

| BUY IT: the company offers various types of sunscreen - from one that focuses on hydration (great in dry climates) to one that is super water resistant, so it stays on even when out surfing and swimming.



This is especially useful if you are planning to travel to areas where soap might not be available (the backcountry, on questionable public transportation). This one by Noshinko is refillable and made of 70% organic sugar cane and botanical oils. | BUY IT


Another easy way to be more eco-conscious when traveling is to switch out your cotton pads or single-use makeup wipes with these bamboo pads that can be hand or machine-washed and used over and over again. | BUY IT

\\ Food & Shopping


If you are someone who tends to eat out a lot while traveling (or even when you are just at home) then you need to make the switch to reusable to-go containers. While it can sometimes be hard to remember to bring your eco-friendly container with you when dining out, once you make it a habit you will realize just how much plastic you are not using (i.e. not sending to a landfill).

When we travel, we try to find some sort of reusable container that we can use throughout our stay. Usually, this means carrying a plastic container or Tupperware box (bonus if we find one in our Airbnb). We'll use the container for when we go out and have leftovers from the restaurant, or for extra food we cook at the house (#lessfoodwaste).

Reusable glass and wooden food containers.

| BUY IT: these glass storage containers can fit all kinds of food - from that leftover pad thai, to rinsed and ready-to-eat fruit.


When traveling, it is highly likely that you will need to do some sort of shopping - like for groceries and/or souvenirs. Similarly, you will also (likely) need to carry something with you while out and about (camera, phone, laundry, beach goods). That is why it is important to pack at least one extra bag - preferably a canvas one that can hold a good number of stuff, work in the grocery store and on the beach, and even look pretty stylish.

💬 INSIDER TIP: if possible, also try to pack some smaller reusable bags for such things as bulk goods and produce while shopping, for organizing your purse (bags on bags works great), or for just a lighter bag for carrying stuff when walking around town.

| BUY IT: while you can usually pick up some unique canvas bags while traveling - in either markets, stores, or eco-shops - you also have the option to buy online. These bags above are vegan and made in ethically certified facilities.


Recently, we made the switch to a water bottle with a built-in filter. And man let us tell you - it has been a game-changer. In the past, we would either have to hope the water was good enough to drink (somehow between the two of us we have only had giardia once), use our Katadyn water filter (usually while out on the trail) or worst-case scenario, buy bottled water.

Now we don't have to worry about any of that because we have two LARQ water bottles - aka the water bottles of the future. In fact, the PureVis version was the world's first self-cleaning water bottle and water purification system. It uses PureVis technology (through the rechargeable cap) to eliminate up to 99% of bio-contaminants such as E. coli from your water and bottle. Score.

👀 DID YOU KNOW: in America alone, 50 billion water bottles are purchased per year. That means, on average, people are using 13 bottles per month. By making the switch to a reusable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.

| BUY IT: you can buy your own super handy travel water bottle from LARQ and see how easy (and stress-free) it is to travel.


Did you know that plastic straws are among the top 10 contributors to plastic marine debris across the globe? Yep. Those tiny little things that are ubiquitous in almost every restaurant and café can cause some serious harm. That is why it is soooo important to make the switch to reusable metal straws like the ones below.

| BUY IT: we use our metal straws whenever we go to a coffee shop or out to dinner. And even while road-tripping, we tend to use them in our water bottles since it makes it easier to drink water while driving. This set by CAMDEA includes a canvas drawstring bag, two straight straws, two bendy straws and two cleaners (which are actually really helpful).


Moving away from plastic water bottles should be a no-brainer by now, but have you thought about the waste that comes from using single-use coffee to-go mugs? Likely not. We didn't either for a while. It wasn't until we saw a cool reusable coffee mug at one of our favorite stores that we realized how wasteful those to-go containers are (even the ones made out of paper usually have harmful chemical coatings, like the ones Starbucks gives out).

If you are a heavy coffee or tea drinker and you usually go out for your coffee (we know this is one of our favorite things to do while traveling) then you should really think about investing in your own reusable coffee mug.

❔ GOOD TO KNOW: you can find all kinds of reusable coffee mugs, either online or in various stores (and even in many coffee shops). We have always used metal ones - like this super well-sized and insulated one from Hydro Flask (check it out here). But some coffee aficionados do say that glass seems to affect the taste of your coffee the least 🙉

Person hiking along a road petting a dog.

// Other Responsible Travel Tips

1 | Try to walk around as much as possible. This will help you get a better feel for the place you are exploring, help cut down on emissions, and give you plenty of healthy exercise.

When traveling, we always pack one pair of comfortable "city" shoes for those days we just want to wander around and take in all the sites and sounds. Our go-to shoe is from the brand Allbirds, because they are not only super comfortable, but the company is also very earth-conscious.

2 | Only choose responsible tour agencies and absolutely NO animal-centric tours. Really this means supporting the companies and agencies that are trying to make a positive impact - either for the ecosystem they are in and/or for the people of their community. Do your research and try to only head out on responsible tours.

Also, just say no to anything with animals. We know those elephants look cute, but more often than not, they are being mistreated. Don't support it. Just don't.

3 | Buy as local as possible when it comes to food, trinkets and souvenirs, and even your lodging. Get away from the mass-produced, commercial stuff and focus on localization. You will usually find the food is tastier, the goods are more special and the lodges are more unique.

4 | Finally, research the culture and try to make an effort to understand what is and is NOT acceptable. Likewise, put some time into getting to know the local language (even the most basic terms) and the major customs.


Sustainable travel doesn't have to be complicated. More often than not, purchasing sustainable travel gear is simply just making the decision to buy and/or invest in more eco-friendly goods instead of single-use plastic. Luckily, in most places there has been a push for more reusable and responsible goods, making it easier than ever to make the switch.

Remember, if you can, try to do your part to be a more sustainable traveler. We promise it is easier than it seems!



Pinterest pin on Sustainable Travel Gear



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