If, like me, you’re a woman who travels the world whilst trying to make as little of an impact as possible then this the list for you!
These are the essential items that I’ve taken around the world. They take up little backpack space, yet significantly help reduce the amount of waste you create. I’ve included everything from water purification to teeth cleaning as just a few products can really make a difference. As the world strives to be plastic free, I’ve concentrated on things that will greatly reduce your plastic waste to not very much at all.
Toothbrushes are one of those things that we don’t really think about, but they’re very difficult to dispose of once the bristles have gone. The beauty of these is that the entire thing breaks down and bamboo grows so quickly that its a great material for creating more sustainable products. I bought three to see me through the beginning of my Asia trip until I could purchase more.
After having lots of experience with menstrual cups, this is the one I recommend! I liked the Mooncup for a while, but it became too uncomfortable and I find the Athena cup much easier to use. It comes with a bag and actually saves a lot of money and the hassle of buying tampons. The only thing you need to do is keep it clean with some soap.
3. Period pants
I really hate sanitary towels so these bamboo period pants were great for me. They feel big to wear compared to normal knickers but they’re not thick like some period pants can be. They’re more like a panty liner than a towel but for me, they were perfect for using with my Athena cup, or the days around it.
I get really dirty when I’m travelling, especially in places like the Middle East and India which can be dusty. My feet, face and neck are usually filthy so these are great for washing away dirt or taking off makeup. These ones are partially bamboo and very soft, if you put them in their bag they count as one laundry item. If you have any soap, you can easily rinse them in the sink.
5. A spork
When buying street food or fast food you often get offered plastic cutlery but having a couple of sporks in your back pocket means that you can say no to them. I found it useful to have a couple, in case one gets dirty and you don’t get a chance to clean it. I liked these ones because the case meant that they didn’t jab anything in my bag.
A straw seems like an unnecessary luxury, but actually, I have had to refuse straws so many times on my trip to Asia that it is essential now! Great for coconuts, milkshakes, juices, smoothies AND cocktails. I loved this one as it has a brush and a holder as well as a spare so you can keep it clean and you have another you can use if one gets lost. Or your travel companion can use it!
I’ve tried many water purification bottles but even though this one takes up more space it’s actually more effective. I tried Aquapure on this trip but getting the water out of the bottle is really difficult and it doesn’t hold enough water. I feel like getting a bigger bottle is better in the long run for times when you don’t have access to water, like when you’re on a bus. I don’t really like using water purification tablets because of the taste and chemicals but these are a good option if you don’t like filter bottles.
8. Safety razor
If you do shave, then a safety razor is one of my top recommendations! I spent so much money on disposable razors and then I felt guilty when I had to throw them away. There are some expensive razors out there that come in big boxes but I use this one as it was cheap and didn’t come with unnecessary packaging. I bought a box of blades but I only brought a few of the packets with me as you can buy disposable blades in Asia. Just make sure not to put it in your hand luggage as we had to throw ours away in Stansted and buy another which defeated the whole point!
9. Shampoo bar
I’ve really fallen in love with shampoo bars even though I didn’t think I would. The only thing to remember is that you have to dry them out and keep them in a tin, otherwise they disintegrate. This one is good as it has coconut and argan oil in, and my hair gets incredibly dry when I’m away.
10. Travel mug
I have a bamboo coffee mug that I use at home, but it would have got crushed if I’d had it in my bag. I use a carabiner to attach my travel mug to the outside of my bag to save space. It’s also handy if you need to grab it. It is insulated but I didn’t worry too much as I’m in a hot country so I never feel cold! If you’re travelling to colder climes, its probably worth getting one with a lid on.
The only other thing to mention is the hygiene of all these reusable items! It’s worth investing in a decent anti-bacterial soap which is something you can find around the world. I haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t use plastic packaging but if you find one, then let me know so I can link to it.
It’s amazing how many bottles, straws and other packaging that you can save in just one day by using a few essential items! Being in India and seeing the piles of rubbish (and the animals eating the rubbish) makes me more determined than ever to make the planet a better place.
Do you have any recommendations for sustainable travel or any essential items that you can’t do without? Let me know in the comments as I am planning lots more content about sustainability and the crackdown on plastic waste.