Packing list for plastic-free travellers


Summer days are here and you have your trip booked to your next destination. Now is the time to pack! Even though I love packing, must of the times I have a nervous feeling of forgetting something. This is why over the years I have improved my packing list to make sure that I am bringing all the things I need. Most important in the past years I have included items that help me avoid all that plastic waste while I am traveling.

So, before you finish packing I will share with you my plastic-free travel basics.


1. Reusable water bottle. If you are a coffee person or you are going somewhere really hot, I recommend you to take with you an insulated bottle. This way you can keep your drinks either hot or cold for longer.

2. Cloth bag(s). If during your trip your plan is to do a little grocery shopping for snacks or you plan to cook I will recommend you to bring a couple of cloth bags. Some smaller ones for fruits/veggies, bread, nuts, etc., and a bigger one to carry everything around.

3. Cloth napkin. Most of the times I take two with me and they tend to be my “wild card”. They can double as an improvised cloth bag, a wrap for a bread or a handkerchief. At the end of the day, you can just wash it and let it air dry for the next day.

4. “NO STRAW, PLEASE” flash card. If you go to a country where you don’t speak the language, I recommend you to do a little research on how to write this sentence. Get a couple of cards and write it down, this way you can easily communicate that you do not want a straw. It can also apply the same for “No plastic bag” or “No plastic bottle”.

5. Shampoo bar and soap bar in a reusable tin. These will help you to avoid plastic toiletries and your soap bar can be useful if you need to wash something (e.g. cloth napkin).

6. Bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste tablets. You can also make your own toothpaste or tooth powder, I just have not found a plastic-free recipe that works for me.

7. Almond or jojoba oil in reusable glass bottle. This is basic inside my toiletry bag. I use it to clean my face or to remove makeup, to moisturize any part of my face or my hair, for my lips or hands.

8. Face towel. The best reusable face wipe. Perfect to use together with my oil to clean my face. This way you avoid all the waste and packaging of the regular wet wipes or cotton rounds.

9. Tea tree and Lavender essential oils. These can help you a lot to reduce any extra unnecessary plastic. They can help as mosquito repellent, sunburn lotion, hand sanitizer, mild headache relief, foot deodorant, etc. I always make sure to dilute 1 or 2 drops of the essential oil with water or with the oil I am carrying before I apply it. If you are not familiarized with the benefits of essential oils a little research can help you to know how to properly use them.

10. Menstrual cup. For all the ones that have a menstrual cycle. Even if I am not going to be on my period during my holidays I always take it with me. Because sometimes hormones go crazy and it is better to be prepared.


Some extras that you can always add to your plastic-free packing list can be:

1. Reusable food container. This one is mainly handy when you have some left overs or you are buying food that cannot be carried in a cloth bag.

2. Spork. Will help you to avoid all that plastic cutlery. If you are traveling by plane avoid metal fork and knife, you might not be able to pass them through the security check. You can go for a bamboo cutlery set or just a spork.

3. Spices and basic cooking ingredients in small jars. When you are going on holidays where you will be cooking or maybe camping, buying things like salt, sugar, pepper, cooking oil, tea, coffee, and even soap dish (I know it’s not an ingredient :p) can give you a hard time. First, it is most likely you will not find a plastic-free version. Second, you might have to buy more than you need and most likely you cannot bring those things with you so it will be also a waste of food. So, if you have space I recommend you to bring your little cooking kit with you.

Now you are ready to finish packing and be happy you will be reducing and refusing a lot of plastics on your way. Because holidays and traveling are meant to be enjoyed, but the least you want to do is to leave behind all your plastic waste.

What is your plastic-free item that cannot be missing when you are traveling?
Happy Plastic Free Tuesday


About Author


Ambar is an ecologist and sustainability consultant passionate about creating projects that help people to find their own path on the sustainability journey. Through her career it has been heartbreaking to see how plastic has become one of the biggest threats to worldwide ecosystems. This has been Ambar's main motivation to re-think her consumer decisions and to join the zero-waste movement. She's positive that every effort sums up to create a better world, and that initiatives like Plastic Free Tuesday help to bring awareness. Ambar is a Mexican living in the Netherlands, and she is happy to be part of the Plastic-Free Tuesday team as content creator for the website and share information and plastic-free alternatives to fight plastic pollution one day at a time. Ambar is looking for job opportunities in the Netherlands in the sustainability field.

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