Traveling is an amazing way to see the world, experience new cultures and expand your horizons. But, if we’re not careful, travelers can have a negative effect on the places they’re visiting without even meaning to. Curious about ways you can cut back on waste while you travel?

Check out some of the eco-friendly travel gear you can invest in so you can help do your part to protect the environment. Changing even a few of your travel habits can help decrease the amount of plastic and trash that ends up in our beautiful oceans and forests. Before you book your next flight, think about ways you can make a difference!

1. Reusable snack bags & containers

Packing snacks for a trip is a must, unless you want to be reduced to eating dry pretzels on the plane. You may not think twice when you grab a plastic bag and fill it with trail mix, but think about the waste that piles up from using two or three plastic bags every day with your lunch. Be conscious about what you’re using while you travel and pack some reusable snack bags or small containers. That way you can easily keep your favorite snacks within arms reach! Not only are you helping prevent food waste, you’re also saving the environment from unnecessary plastic and styrofoam, which is one of the worst things for the environment.

2. Reusable tote bags

Reusable tote bags

Depending on where you’re traveling, you might need to stock up on groceries, supplies, or just need to carry your beach items to the shore. Ditch the plastic bag and grab a lightweight reusable bag that you can use for whatever you need! You can usually grab reusable bags for sale at your local grocery store for about $1 as well.

Why are plastic bags so bad? It’s estimated that the U.S alone is responsible for 327 billion plastic bags that end up in the ocean. Not only are plastic bags dangerous for marine life, they clog waterways and appear on beaches. Some places have even banned the use of plastic bags, so it’s a good idea to come prepared to wherever you’re traveling to!

3. Reusable utensils

More than 100 million pieces of plastic utensils are used by Americans every day. Think about all of the plastic you could save from ending up in the waterways if you cut out single-use plastic utensils. You can always purchase a reusable set of utensils to take on the go so that you’re prepared! If you’re trying to save money, you can always just grab a fork and knife from home and pack them in your bag so you have them just in case.

4. Water bottles

Instead of buying a plastic water bottle wherever you go, bring an empty reusable water bottle with you on your flight and then fill it up once you’re past security. Not only will you help save the oceans from receiving yet another plastic water bottle, you’ll also save money. Plastic bottles also contain micro-plastics which can be harmful to you when ingested. One of the most essential pieces of eco-friendly travel gear you can get is a reusable water bottle.

Some of our favorites for traveling are the collapsible Que bottle that can easily fit into your backpack or purse. The Swell water bottle is also a great option because of how sturdy it is. Grayl also has a water bottle that purifies drinking water from any freshwater source, right in the bottle! Que currently has a limited edition Seashore version that for every bottle purchased, $5 will be donated to Rainforest Trust to protect 57 acres of land and create Côte d’Ivoire’s First Marine Protected Area. What’s better than being sustainable and helping protect our rain forests?

5. Solar charger

Hiking

We’ve all been there. You get to the top of the mountain and pull out your phone to take a pic, but your battery is dead. You don’t ever have to worry about that again if you invest in a solar charger! Not only does it save energy, your phone battery can stay fully charged while you’re traveling the world. Solar chargers usually take a couple of hours in the sun for them to provide power for your devices. This solar power bank has a carabiner hook so you can attach it to your backpack and soak up the rays while you’re on the go!

6. Reusable straws

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Did you know that in the US alone, 500 million plastic straws are used and disposed every day? That's a lot of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable plastic for something that's designed to be used just a single time! 😢 The thing is, each and every plastic straw, on top of each piece of plastic that has ever been made, still exists in some shape or form, filling our landfills, oceans, and waterways as micro-particles. The only way to disrupt this pattern is to strive to stop using plastic products in our everyday lives! While one straw may seem insignificant, it turns out that replacing single-use plastics like this from your life can save 30,000 straws from landfills and waterways in your lifetime. @simplystraws was founded by a passionate mother-daughter duo to help spark this kind of lifestyle change! Their goal was to create a sustainable replacement for straws, while also building a supply chain and infrastructure that considers the environment at every level — so they did just that. Behind the skinny, stainless steel Rose Gold Straw Kit included in the Winter Welcome Box, is Simply Straws: a certified B Corporation, WBENC Certified Women Business Enterprise, Clean Energy Business, EPA Green Power Partner, AND a member of 1% For The Planet. …what does all this mean for us? That from compostable packaging to clean energy to mindset shifting, every detail of the brand behind your CAUSEBOX product is making a difference — and you're supporting this kind of change! 🙌

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We’ve all seen the campaigns on Twitter and Instagram leading some companies to do away with straws completely. Straws can hurt wildlife both on land and in the ocean. Also, they’re another single-use plastic that are having a negative impact on the environment. The solution? Invest in reusable straws! There a variety of different straws that come in silicone, stainless steel, and other various materials. You’ll soon be asking yourself why you didn’t start using them sooner.

7. Reusable makeup wipes

It might be something you don’t think about on a daily basis, but makeup wipes are terrible for the environment. Makeup wipes are made up of a variety of different polyesters and other fibers that are non-biodegradable. This means they stay in landfills for at least 100 years. Reduce your ecological footprint and next time you’re in need of makeup wipes while you’re traveling, grab the reusable kind! These makeup wipes work just as well as the disposable kind and can be used up to 1000 times. They’re also easier to pack.

8. Organic sunscreen

Recently, sunscreens gotten a bit of a bad rep, and for some good reasons: many regular sunscreen brands contain oxybenzone and other ingredients that can be harmful to coral reefs and other marine life. In order to protect ocean ecosystems, organic and reef-safe sunscreens are a must for your future beach days. Look for sunscreens that are oxybenzone-free and use natural and/or organic ingredients. Or just check out companies that are making tons of reef-friendly products, like Sun Bum.

Where can I find eco-friendly travel gear?

Patagonia, AllBirds, Chicobag, and Threads 4 Thought are just a few of the brands that have been committed to making sustainable and eco-friendly travel gear (as well as products for everyday use!). REI is also known for carrying tons of eco-friendly and sustainable brands. If you’re having trouble discovering products that work for you, you can also check out brands like Grove Collaborative and Causebox that can introduce you to sustainable brands for the products you need.

Is being sustainable expensive?

Many people think that buying eco-friendly travel gear is too expensive to fit with their lifestyle. While it does cost a bit of money in the short-term, in the long-term you’ll be saving so much from doing something as simple as bringing your reusable water bottle everywhere you go. Some cafes, like Starbucks, even offer a discount when you bring in your own coffee cup. Not only are you helping save the environment from unnecessary plastic, you’re also choosing to make an incredible lifestyle choice that will inspire others to do the same!

Next time you go on a trip, make sure you pack all these eco-friendly travel gear essentials. Now you can do your part to preserve your favorite places on the planet for years to come!