Last updated on March 7th, 2023
Packing tips for the eco-friendly traveller
By Marin Scotten, Editorial Intern, JourneyWoman
Here at JourneyWoman, packing is a bit of an obsession. Maybe that’s why we have packing lists for almost every occasion – from post-pandemic packing to packing for the Camino. (Not to mention videos of packing on our YouTube channel!)
When we travel, we want to consider items that reduce our environmental impact. To take our tips to the next level we invited our very own Nora Livingstone, the CEO of ethical tourism company Animal Experiences International and JourneyWoman Advisory Council Member, to give us some insider knowledge – and to recommend products that are both convenient and eco-friendly. What she shared might surprise you!
(Please note: this article includes Amazon and other affiliate links, but we only ever recommend items we think are relevant for you and we’ve tried ourselves that will benefit you on your travels). If you decide to purchase an item through one of these links, we will receive a small commission that doesn’t add any cost to the purchase of an item.)
1. Steripen Water Bottle and Purifier
It’s no secret that using a reusable water bottle saves plastic and is good for the environment. It’s one of the easiest things one can do to reduce waste, especially when travelling. However, just as important is ensuring the water you’re drinking is clean and safe to drink.
Livingstone uses the SteriPen water bottle and and purifier, which uses ultraviolet light to purify water. When you immerse the lamp in the water, it disrupts the DNA of bacteria, viruses and protozoa, rendering them harmless.
2. Reef Safe Sunscreen
Many of the top sunscreen brands like Coppertone, Sun Bum, Neutrogena and Banana Boat contain chemicals that are harmful to the ocean’s reefs and marine life. When travelling and visiting these incredible ecosystems, it’s our responsibility to do as little damage as possible. Try to find an SPF that uses physical UVA and UVB filters instead of chemical ones. Look for the ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Nora recommends Badger Balm sunscreen, a women-owned business that strives to protect natural resources and incorporate climate justice into their everyday production. Their products are chemical-free and reef safe.
3. Toothpaste Tabs
“Flying with toothpaste can be messy even if you are allowed to take it on a plane. I switched to toothpaste tabs a few years ago and never looked back,” Livingstone says.
Toothpaste tabs are not only convenient for travel, but they also reduce plastic usage. These tablets by Bees Butter come in a glass jar and are made from 100% food grade ingredients. Simply place the tablet in your mouth, crush it with your teeth and then brush as normal.
A snapshot of what’s in Nora’s backpack:
What else would you add to our eco-friendly list?
4. Shampoo Bar
Another product that reduces plastic waste is shampoo bars. These are an eco-friendly way to bring along the hair products you need. These shampoo bars by The Earthling Co. are chemical-free and come in six different scents. They also have a conditioner bar, both of which are small and easy to travel with.
5. Happy Cow App
It’s no secret that eating a plant-based diet is good for the environment. When travelling however, it can be difficult to find restaurants that have plant-based options.
HappyCow was founded in 1999 as a public service to assist travellers in finding plant-based/vegan restaurants all over the world. HappyCow has since grown to a large online community and app used by plant-based travellers and others who want to minimize their impact on the earth.
6. Mosquito Net
When exploring some of the untouched corners of the earth, a bug net is essential for sleeping, especially when spending a night in the jungle. The Kammok DragonFly bug net is extremely lightweight and easy to pack, perfect for throwing in your backpack.
Nora also recommends purchasing one for a child in need from UNICEF.
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7. Collapsible Reusable Coffee Cup
Using a reusable coffee cup saves plastic waste and is always a great thing to carry, especially when travelling. However, most reusable mugs take up a lot of space and are the most practical for travelling.
“Reusable coffee cups drive me crazy because when you have limited space they take up so much room. I have a collapsible one and am obsessed,” Nora says. She uses the Stojo Collapsible cup, which is made of BPA silicone that is lightweight and perfect for throwing in your carry-on.
8. Train Tickets or Pass
Travelling by train is one of the most environmentally friendly ways you can travel. VIA Rail Canada offers various different rail passes that are purchased one time and can be used to travel anywhere throughout Canada. Depending on the pass, you can choose between 5 to 100 travel credits. With no expiry blackout dates, a VIA Rail pass is the perfect way to travel around Canada without worrying about your carbon emissions.
Train travel is popular around the world, too. Use a program like OMIO to search for fares and schedules across multiple train lines and service providers.
9. Public Bike Membership
One of the best, most eco-friendly ways to see get around a city- whether it be a new one or your hometown- is by bike. Bikeshares are available in cities all over the world and purchasing a membership is an easy to get access to a bike whenever you need one.
Public bike memberships can be purchased in Toronto, New York, London, Chicago and other cities globally.
10. Smartwool Hiking Socks
One of the best ways to explore this beautiful earth is by walking with our own two feet, venturing into far-off landscapes. For longer hikes, a good pair of socks is absolutely essential for warmth, comfort and blister prevention. (especially on the Camino!)
Smartwool women’s full-cushion hiking socks from Smartwool are made from 55% merino wool, 12% Nylon, 30% Recycled Nylon and 3% Elastane. Combined, these materials are quick-drying, warm, lightweight and specifically made to fit women’s feet, making them perfect for exploring difficult terrain or staying warm on your neighbourhood’s local trail. (Recommended by Carolyn).
11. Reusable Travel Straws and Cutlery
When travelling, it’s not only convenient to have your own set of cutlery and straws, but also much less wasteful. This stainless steel travel cutlery by Let’s Go Eco includes three different straws and straw cleaner, a fork, knife and spoon as well as a cotton travel bag. They are durable, easy to clean and perfect to throw in your backpack whenever you need.
12. Baggu Reusable Bag
When exploring a new city or town, it’s always best to carry a reusable bag, just in case you end up purchasing some things along the way, whether it be food, clothing or knick knacks.
Baggu is a sustainable company that creates durable, lightweight reusable shopping bags. Since their beginning in 2007, Baggu has focused on the elimination and minimization of waste in their operations and production processes.
Ideas for those travelling from home
13. Produce Box that Reduces Food Waste
Being mindful of where one buys and how one consumes their food is one of the most impactful ways an individual can minimize their impact on the environment. Every year, nearly 5 billion pounds of produce goes to waste as it doesn’t meet the cosmetic standards of grocery stores.
Food Fund was started as a response to food waste in Canada. They take fruits and vegetables that would have gone to waste and deliver them straight to your door weekly. If you’re looking for a way to fight food waste and minimize your impact, Food Fund is an excellent way to do so. They make deliveries to various locations across Ontario.
14. Earthing Mat
For years, ‘earthing’, also known as grounding, has been used as a therapeutic technique that uses electric charges from the earth to have positive effects on one’s body. Traditionally, earthing involves walking barefoot on the outdoor ground, which directly connects the human body with the earth. Though the research is still developing, regular earthing has been shown to have positive effects on one’s physical and mental health.
Earthing Canada has revolutionized modern earthing, making it more accessible to be grounded every day and get the benefits that come along with it. Their products allow one to maintain the physical connection between the human body and the Earth’s stabilizing energy field during periods of work, rest, and sleep.
Earthing’s Universal Mat is their most versatile product, allowing you to connect with Earth’s energy almost anywhere. Set up your mat, plug it in and make bare skin contact with the mat to receive its benefits. (Recommended by Carolyn)
Note: JourneyWomen readers get 10% off any purchase using code EarthDay22.
Do you have any eco-friendly products you can’t travel without? Share them with us below!
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Thanks for that great post!