As a family, we have been working over the last couple of years to try to be a little kinder to our planet, and I’ve especially worked on practicing responsible tourism with the kids. These eco friendly travel products are some of our most used to family travel, and have helped us to explore in a more environmentally friendly way.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase an item after clicking on the link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. This is at no extra cost to you, and as always, all opinions and recommendations are my own.
Eco friendly backpacks
For any sort of family travel, you’re probably going to need at least one backpack, if not more; my kids have their own backpacks to carry their own things and I usually carry one as well since it leaves my hands free.
In order for a backpack to be eco friendly, it needs to be made from either recycled or sustainable material, and should be produced by a company who fairly compensate their workers. With that criteria in mind, these are the eco friendly backpack options I’ve found that work best for us.
There are lots of brands that use sustainable materials like cotton canvas, or even recycled materials to make their backpacks.
Solgaard have different varieties of backpack to choose from, and almost all of them are made from recycled plastic; for every item sold, they remove 229 ocean bound plastic bottles. They also partner with The Plastic Bank, who create local jobs in the Philippines removing plastic from the oceans and upcycling it into other products.
Terra Thread make their backpacks with 100% sustainable Fairtrade GOTS organic cotton, and they come with lead-free zippers. Their products are manufactured in a Fair Trade USA certified factory in India, and local workers and producers receive a Fairtrade premium that they can invest in to their local community.
United by Blue not only make sustainable clothing, but eco friendly backpacks made from 100% recycled materials. They remove one pound of trash from the ocean for every product sold, and run company organized beach clean up events. They are a Certified B Corp company, which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.
Eco friendly packing cubes
Packing cubes are one of the best travel products I’ve discovered over the last few years! They’ve allowed me to travel with a carry on bag only (even with two kids in tow!) and I think they’re a pretty great product if you’re looking at eco friendly travel.
Heimplanet packing cubes use dope dyed fabrics, which is a process that eliminates the most polluting parts of fabric production.
Northern Olive Organic Cotton packing cubes are more of an investment, but they’re the most sustainable packing cubes I’ve found. They use 100% Organic Cotton, which is a renewable resource and biodegradable.
Eco friendly bottles
A reusable eco friendly bottle is one of the easiest switches to make when making a move towards eco friendly travel.
They’re a great product to take on vacation, but also to use in every day life to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.
Did you know that more than 2 million plastic water bottles end up in American landfills every year?! That’s crazy!
There are different options when it comes to eco friendly bottles, so I’ve highlighted some of them here along with their pros and cons.
Plastic reusable water bottles are definitely some of the most popular; I know I have quite a few. They’re great for kids because they’re pretty indestructible so they’re perfect for family travel, and they’re usually some of the most affordable.
Having said that, plastic reusable water bottles are also obviously still using plastic, which means they can’t be recycled when you’re done with them and will one day end up in a landfill along with all the disposable plastic water bottles. So while they have their advantages, they’re not ideal.
Another option for an eco friendly bottle is glass. These look super pretty, and are much better for the environment; they can eventually be recycled and contain no weird chemicals. They are however obviously very fragile, meaning they’re not great for kids. Some locations also won’t allow entry with glass containers.
My favorite option for an eco friendly bottle is stainless steel, and this is what we have the most of for our family travel. They’re recyclable, can be just as tough as plastic bottles, contain no harmful chemicals, and do a great job of maintaining a drink’s temperature.
Eco friendly bathroom products
Bathroom products such as shampoo and toothbrushes make for great eco friendly travel products; they’re great for sustainable travel and often take up less room.
One of my favorite eco friendly bathroom products is a shampoo bar. They usually come with no plastic packaging or anything else that will end up in a landfill, and take up so much less space in your toiletry bag. I’ve also found they last a lot longer than a bottle of shampoo.
Another great eco friendly bathroom product is to switch over to a bamboo toothbrush. Toothbrushes are some of the worst offenders when it comes to plastic waste; they take years to break down in landfills and since most people replace theirs at least a few times a year, this leads to a lot of plastic waste.
Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and since bamboo is such a fast growing plant, it’s a great renewable, sustainable source. They contain no harsh chemicals and are durable enough for travel.
While you’re switching over your toothbrush, consider toothpaste tablets as well. These make for great eco friendly travel products because they’re so tiny they take up very little space – and they’re not going to explode all over your other products either (has anyone else had that happen?! What a mess!)
Another eco friendly travel product I’ve only really started using in the last year is a pack of reusable make up remover pads. I always traveled with a pack of make up removal wipes, but using reusable, washable pads is not only better for the environment, but takes up less space (and saves money!)
If you’re not sold on things like shampoo or cleansing bars and you really don’t think you can travel without a specific brand of hair care, you still have options! Buy your regular full sized product (skipping travel sized products that used up more plastic packaging) and then look into reusable travel bottles.
You can pick up plastic versions of these, but as I use silicone reusable travel bottles. Decant your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. into the travel bottles and then you can travel with all of your regular products while still saving space, saving money, and saving the environment!
Eco friendly baby products for travel
While all of these make for great eco friendly travel products for family travel, if you’re traveling with a baby then there are some more specific products you might want to look into.
The most eco friendly diapers are cloth diapers; they’re plastic free, take up less space than a huge pile of disposable diapers, and you save a small fortune! Having said that, if you’re nervous about traveling with a baby in cloth diapers, there are some more eco friendly disposable diapers out there.
It’s also a more eco friendly idea to use reusable baby wipes instead of the disposable ones; not only are they better for the environment, but won’t contain any harsh chemicals for that delicate baby skin either.
As much as I don’t necessarily like plastic baby bottles, I probably wouldn’t recommend trying to travel with glass baby bottles either. Luckily, companies have started making stainless steel baby bottles that work perfectly.
Any parent who has flown with a baby will tell you that one of the best tricks to know is to have your baby suck on something during take off and landing to help their ears adjust to the change in pressure. If you’re nursing or feeding your baby from a bottle then that works perfectly, but an eco friendly pacifier is also a great option.
If your baby is at the weaning stage, then it’s also a good idea to pack some eco friendly baby utensils. If you’re out and about with your little one, you might struggle to find silverware that works for a little mouth so being prepared means your little one won’t have to wait for their meal!