Never has it been more important to travel more sustainably. With an awareness of climate change and the need to recycle, we have changed our daily lives and the products we use, becoming more environmentally aware.
But when we go on holiday sometimes these daily habits are overlooked. Perhaps how to recycle isn’t clear or doesn’t happen in that country. Or perhaps we’re being a bit lazy and it’s just easier to do the more convenient, but less green, option.
As we’ve travelled through some beautiful places we’ve seen plastic waste left on beaches, mountains and in national parks. It’s utterly heartbreaking, so we need to come up with some solutions. In instead of complaining about the waste, how do we help? We start by reducing the waste we produce.
Aware that we would be aware for 18 months and wanting to ‘only leave footprints’, we started to look at how we could reduce the waste we produce. We watched vlogs and read blogs about what to take. We examined every product we’d be taking and after 4 months of travelling, we have our top picks of what items every traveller should be taking with them to travel more sustainably.
Many of these items will be useful at home or away. They end up saving you money and they are environmentally friendly so it’s a win-win. With the current Coronavirus lockdown giving us all a little more time to think about our travels and the kind of world we want to live in, invest some time into what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint when you next go on holiday.
Table of Contents
Food & Drink
Water to Go bottle
Our Water to Go bottle has been without a doubt the best purchase we made prior to setting off on our trip. We use it every day and helps us travel more sustainably.
Keen to save money, we started to look at water bottles to help us reduce our plastic waste. We were already using a water bottle at home, but thinking long term, we realised we might need a bottle that also filters the water to make it safe to drink. We looked at various options and then found Water to Go.
With technology developed by NASA to remove over 99.9999% of contaminants, we loved the look of these cool water bottles. The bottles have an easy to hold design, come in a variety of colours and even two different sizes. Travelling as a couple we got two different colours so we can identify the bottles.
When we started travelling we were quite surprised at the number of people that buy water every day. Not that many people have water bottles, which means they produce plastic waste every day if a hostel doesn’t provide safe drinking water and many hostels don’t.
If everyone had a Water to Go bottle imagine, how much we could reduce the use of single-use plastics. Use the code ‘EATWITHWALKER‘ on the Water to Go website to get a 15% discount on your purchase.
Whilst we were in Bocas del Toro, a 3-litre bottle of water cost an eye-watering USD $3.75. So having a water bottle, every day we save money. In 3 months the savings you make runs into hundreds of dollars. Plus we reduce our plastic waste. A double win.
The filter needs to be soaked for 20 minutes before use and then it lasts for around 3 months and can be used on any freshwater water source (i.e. not seawater). This means we have free, safe drinking water whenever we go, which also gives us additional peace of mind for any situations that might arise.
Taking shopping bags to the supermarket is a habit that most of us have done for years at home and is an example of something we just forget to pack. Extra bags are always useful and you already have them on in your homes, so don’t forget to pop it on your packing list.
In most countries you now have to pay for plastic bags when you go to the supermarket, so don’t forget to take a reusable bag on holiday with you.
We set off with a small reusable plastic bag but lost it along our travels. Eager to replace our reusable bag when we were shopping in Nicaragua we bought a large, reusable bag. The material is lightweight and it folds down so small.
Don’t be afraid to take a large bag especially if there are two of you travelling. It means you can do larger shops and reduces the need for getting another plastic bag because yours isn’t big enough. A small bag will always help, but larger bags will help you to travel more sustainably.
The bag is so large that we are able to carry everything needed for a large shop plus any booze. Back at the hostel, the bag can be used to store any items that don’t need to go in the fridge.
Plastic Tupperware Containers
As keen cooks, we know that cooking in bulk saves time and reduces costs, so we decided to take some Tupperware containers on our travels. We always took our lunches into work before travelling but we needed an alternative to the usual bulky plastic containers.
The bulky plastic containers were always so annoying- taking up lots of room and looking unsightly if you had an appointment somewhere after work. In addition, you always worried that if there was any liquid in the Tupperware container, that if the seal was faulty it might end up all over your bag. This has happened to me more times than I care to remember.
These amazing bags, pack flat but hold lots of food when they are filled. The bottom folds out so that you can easily pour food or liquids in and they can be easily stored in the fridge. Due to their design, because the container can ‘stand’, it’s easy to pack into a fridge in a hostel that’s already overfilled and only has a little bit of space.
The Tupperware containers are incredibly versatile and mean that when we cook too much food, instead of having to throw it away, we can store it safely in the fridge and have the leftovers for lunch. Reducing our food waste too.
They are also useful for picnic lunches, allowing you to take food items safely in your bag, avoiding any spilling accidents or getting food covered in sand. We found them to be ideal for bus journeys where you want a snack but don’t want to buy overpriced food from expensive shops en route.
Cooking whilst you’re away is much like cooking at home but without most of the utensils, you want to use! Sometimes you’ll need to use only half an onion and you want to store it to keep it fresh. At home, you have cling film, but it’s not something you’re going to travel with from place to place.
Some friends introduced us to beeswax wraps a couple of months before we set off on our travels and they are so amazing. They’ve have helped us travel more sustainably, acting like reusable cling film, keeping things fresh. You just clean them after use and they are ready to go again. No more clingfilm needed!
We’ve even heard of some very clever people making their own beeswax wraps, but we just got these lovely beeswax wraps online. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can ensure they fit over almost any sized cup, bowl and plate.
We also wrap leftover food that we might want to eat a bit later. It keeps it fresh and ensures it’s clean. So cheap and easy, they are used nearly every time we cook. A pretty and reusable alternative and you never need to find the end of the clingfilm again! What’s not to love?
If you are planning on cooking your own meals, then a spork is always useful. Absolutely essential for picnics, you can sit on a beach eating your delicious home-made lunch from your Tupperware container. Having a spork makes you totally self-sustainable.
We loved the design of this spork that also has a serrated edge if you need to cut something. They are really well designed and very sturdy. They even come in a little bag so that you can keep them clean and always know where to find them in your bag.
We have found these invaluable in a couple of hostels where the kitchenware is a little sparse. Having a spork means that you always have a way to eat your food, even if the kitchen is busy and everyone is eating at the same time.
This also means that if you ever need to pick up some take away food, you don’t have to accept the flimsy plastic knife and forks they offer that are single-use plastics and often break. You’re reducing your plastic waste even further, using a product that works better and you travel more sustainably.
Also, they are so unbelievably cheap and so useful at home too. If your favourite work lunch spot is still using single-use plastic cutlery, just stop accepting their plastic cutlery and use your own instead. Every little way we can reduce our plastic waste helps.
Stojo Silicone Travel Cup
We can’t really function without coffee in the morning, so this travel cup was an absolutely essential purchase. Leaving our bulky, refillable coffee flasks at home, we needed an alternative.
These travel cups are very compact and open up to provide you with a medium-sized coffee. Ideal if you want a coffee on the go or if all the cups at the hostel are being used.
The cup folds down small and can be easily carried in your day bag, should you ever need a little coffee pick-me-up during the day.
A lot of coffee shops in London now offer you a discount if you take your own cup, so there is already a push to reduce the waste of disposable coffee cups. This allows you to continue the good habits you have at home, on the road.
These Stojo Silicone Travel Cups also come in a variety of cool colours for you to choose from. Pretty, practical and they help you travel more sustainably.
Green People Reef-Safe Sunscreen
If you are planning on snorkelling on reefs or visiting Cenotes or caves, then you have to wear reef-safe sunscreen. We read a lot of articles about the damage that sunscreen does, so this particular item is very important if you want to travel more sustainably.
Overtourism is damaging these fragile environments so it’s important that you take steps to be a responsible tourist. There will be a symbol on your sunscreen if it’s an ocean-friendly formula. This particular brand has been approved by the marine conservation society.
We really liked this sunscreen because it is thick and provides good protection. At first, we found it hard to rub in but that is because we were using too much. A little goes a long way, so you don’t need a lot. So although a bit more expensive, you get what you pay for.
We noticed that if you put this sunscreen on at the beginning of the day, you don’t have to reapply. We went snorkelling and found that what we put on at the beginning of the day was sufficient. At the end of the day a lot of our fellow passengers on the boat had red shoulders and backs, whereas we had been protected all day. You still tan, it just keeps out all the harmful rays that can damage your skin.
In addition, Green people donate 10% of all net profit to charity and the tube the cream comes in is made from 100% recyclable sugar cane plastic! So not only are you helping the environment but you’re helping a company with some great ethics.
Aesop Soap Slab
So we won’t lie, we love Aesop. We think it’s a really cool brand and their skincare range is great for anyone with sensitive skin.
Heading off on an around the world trip and trying to find an alternative to our shower gels, we saw that they sell a soap slab. More moisturising than normal soap, which can dry the skin, we were keen to try it out.
So we bought the Aesop soap slab, cut it in two and got soap dishes. Not only does it smell lovely, but the soap isn’t harsh and is great for sensitive skin.
The Aesop soap slab creates a rich, non-foamy lather quickly so you end up using less. The slab is huge and we found that one slab cut into two lasted us 3 months which makes this product amazing value. It totally removes any worries about shower gel leaking in your wash bag too!
Made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s a little bit of luxury whilst you travel. It also means that if you’re staying in an area where only natural products can be used, the Aesop soap slab won’t damage the environment.
Salt of the Earth Deodorant
We absolutely love this natural deodorant. We were so sceptical about whether it would work, but it does and it’s brilliant. It lasts for ages and is great value.
Normal spray deodorants are very bulky and keen to reduce the volume of things in our bag, we did some research into natural deodorants after having a conversation with a friend who said she’d been using them for months.
Tentatively we bought the deodorant sticks and were over the moon that they are 100% natural ingredients and actually work. We started our trip in Mexico so they were put to the test immediately in some very hot temperatures.
To use it, you just need to make the deodorant slightly damp and apply to your armpits like a normal deodorant. Et voila, a brilliant natural deodorant that lasts for ages. A brilliant item to help you travel more sustainably.
Palmers Coconut Shampoo & Spray Conditioner
We both love this Palmer’s coconut shampoo. It makes your hair smell like coconuts (funnily enough!) and a little goes a long way. We got a huge dispenser and it lasts for ages.
The shampoo is different from normal soap and doesn’t produce a lather, which is definitely something I had to get used to. It’s very moisturising and great for different hair types.
It has no sulphates or detergents, so it dries out the hair less which is ideal if you have naturally dry or frizzy hair. It also means that it’s ideal for anyone that has had a Brazilian Blowdry and want the straightening effects to last longer.
After shampooing we use the coconut conditioning spray. We love this conditioning spray that gives your hair an extra boost of hydration. It tames wild hairs, makes your hair shine and also makes your hair smell extra coco-nutty!
Palmers strives to use natural and raw ingredients. They also support the sustainable production of Shea & Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil worldwide which just makes us love these products even more!
Knowing that we planned to go into the jungle and the rainforest, we were keen to have a way to wash our clothes should there be no laundry facilities. We found a vlog where someone reviewed the Scrubba bag and we decided to try it out.
You fill your Scrubba bag with washing gel, warm water and put your clothes in. You fold down the plastic a couple of times to remove any excess air and then prevent any leaking you secure it with a clip. There is a valve on the bag which you can open to deflate the bag further.
Once the air has been removed you can start to wash your clothes. There is an inbuilt washboard inside the bag. You gently move your hands back and forward over this washboard to clean your clothes. 30 seconds is enough for a rinse but 3 minutes said to be the equivalent of a machine wash.
Once washing has been completed, remove the dirty water and rinse the clothes. We usually pop some water in the Scrubba bag and rinse them that way. Once the clothes are rinsed, wring them and hang them to dry as normal.
Nowadays a lot of hostels have signs saying you can’t clean your clothes in the sink, so we have found the Scrubba bag a really helpful bit of kit to have when laundry facilities are scarce or expensive.
If you’re reading this article you are no doubt, keen on being more sustainable and want some ideas about how to travel more sustainably. We hope that some of these products appeal to you and help you reduce your waste. We have found all the above items absolutely invaluable on our travels.
Do let us know what items help you travel more sustainably. We are always to keen to hear about what you do to try and be greener.
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