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13 Eco-friendly Travel Products and Tips

By Amanda Townsel

We don’t know about you, but we are counting down the days until it’s safe to travel again. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best eco-friendly travel products and tips to help you prepare for your next adventure!

Bring These Eco-Friendly Travel Products
  1. Reef Safe Sunscreen: Using sunscreen that protects coral reefs is a no brainer if you are traveling to a destination near the coast or on the ocean. The two most common chemicals used in sunscreen that can cause direct harm to corals are oxybenzone and octinoxate. When shopping for your trip, choose a “reef safe” sunscreen that doesn’t contain either of these damaging chemicals. Also, be sure to bring a hat, rash guard, and other apparel that can help reduce your need for sunscreen altogether. See our full guide to ocean friendly sun protection.
  2. Reusable Travel Items: Pack your reusable coffee cup for your morning fix, reusable bags for any treasures you may find shopping, a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated, and reusable utensils so you don’t need any plastic utensils. So much plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year - reducing the amount you use can make a big difference, especially when visiting areas near the ocean and countries with poor waste management practices.
  3. Eco-Friendly Toiletries: Arm your toiletry kit with refillable bottles and pack your own shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. to eliminate the need for those little plastic bottles at your hotel that are thrown away after one use. Also consider investing in a bamboo toothbrush with toothpaste tablets to further reduce plastic waste during your trip. You can even call your hotel ahead of time to request that no toiletries be left in your room.
  4. Bring eBooks: Pack your kindle or iPad, or download books on your phone to reduce the weight of your luggage. Books are heavy, adding weight to your luggage that is not only a burden to carry, but also increases your carbon footprint.
  5. Odorless, Quick Drying, and Antibacterial Clothing: Laundry requires a lot of water and harmful chemicals found in detergents and clothes drying is energy intensive. Consider investing in antibacterial or odorless clothing; opting for clothing that doesn’t need to be washed as frequently helps the environment while also saving you time and money by not doing as much laundry. Lightweight, quick drying fabrics can air dry in just a few hours and eliminate the need for mechanical drying.

Consider These Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
  1. Pack your own food for the plane: Airline food is a big cause of plastic waste; nearly everything is individually packaged in plastic wrapping. Pack yourself a meal using reusable containers and reusable utensils. Your food will be exactly what you want to eat and you’ll reduce plastic waste.
  2. Don’t print your boarding pass: Use your airline’s app to download your boarding pass straight to your phone. You won’t lose it and you’ll reduce paper waste.
  3. Buy carbon offsets: When you travel by plane, especially on long flights, your carbon footprint increases greatly. By buying a carbon offset, you can reduce your carbon footprint. Many airlines make this easy for you by offering carbon offsets at the time of purchase.
  4. Pack lightly: Choose to pack lightly by packing clothing items that are versatile, lightweight, and can be re-worn and washed along the way (see above tip about “Odorless, Quick Drying, and Antibacterial Clothing”). Doing so will reduce the weight of your luggage and therefore your carbon footprint as you travel, and it will also make your luggage much easier to handle. It’s a win-win!
  5. Leave only footprints: Pack a gallon size bag to bring home any trash that is unable to be disposed of properly at your destination. Being mindful of plastic waste is especially important when traveling to developing countries or regions that do not have good infrastructure for waste management, as there is a much higher risk that your plastic waste will end up in the ocean.
  6. Keep it local: Once you get to your destination, keep your spending local. Whether you hit up a local farmers market for your groceries or to shop, or choose to eat locally sourced food at local restaurants, you’ll be supporting the community you are traveling to. Don’t forget your reusable shipping bags!
  7. Pass on housekeeping: Millions of gallons of water are wasted on laundry when towels are washed from your hotel room daily. Pass on housekeeping and hang your towels to dry after each use.
  8. Spread the word: 87% of global travelers say they want to travel sustainably, yet only 40% are actually managing to do so. Help support this growing trend by sharing these ideas with your friends and family.


Amanda Townsel is an Oceanic Society communications strategist, copywriter, and community coordinator. Amanda earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is an avid traveler with a professional career that includes diving, marine ecotourism research, and strategic communications for conservation organizations.


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