Tips to help you pack less and pack more efficiently for your slow travel adventure.

8 Must-Have Zero Waste Travel Toiletries

8 Must-Have Zero Waste Travel Toiletries

Toiletries are a necessary thing to pack to maintain our hygiene and personal maintenance, but the number of things we pack can easily add up, especially when we pack unnecessary and wasteful products. Zero-waste travel toiletries are a great way to reduce your waste while traveling, and save money! This article will cover some of the best zero waste travel toiletries for you to consider for your next adventure. 

By choosing low-waste, reusable solutions you will not only reduce the waste you create but also save space in your bag and save money on future purchases! With this guide, you can save $150 annually with sustainable swaps in your toiletry bag alone!

These products are designed to minimize waste and reduce the environmental footprint of your travel, while also saving you money and hassle from shopping in foreign places. In this article, we’ll discuss some essential zero-waste toiletries that can help you maintain your hygiene and keep the planet clean. 

Arrangement of all zero waste travel toiletry options that I use

Table of Contents

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1. Makeup Palette

We are starting the list strong, with a game changer for your toiletries with a completely zero-waste makeup palette. Makeup has always been a source of waste in my cosmetics since they are so often made with plastic packaging, are non-refillable, and have a short lifetime.

Level up your low-waste lifestyle with this completely zero-waste palette by Elate. This is a 100% customizable palette, where you can pick and choose which capsules you want to complete your look. Choose from eye shadow, blush, eyebrow color, eyeliner, foundation, concealer, and more! You can mix and match to make your perfect set, without buying all the extra crap.

This palette comes in different sizes, so you can design it for your glam desires. The palette housing is made from Bamboo, and each tablet is set in 100% aluminum, so you can recycle them everywhere! When one is finished, simply order a new one and receive it in 100% recyclable packaging.

Open makeup palette, DIY makeup remover, reusable cotton rounds, and eco-brushes


If you don’t consider sunscreen in your daily makeup application, that should change. Your face is constantly taking on the sun’s harmful rays, which can increase the appearance of aging and create skin cancers. The catch is, not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, popular brands like Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Neutrogena cause a lot of damage to our marine ecosystem.

The chemicals in these sunscreens cause reproduction issues, growth defects, and more (and you’re putting that on your body?!) Look out for these harmful chemicals in many name-brand sunscreens that lead to marine degradation and coral bleaching.

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Benzophenone-1
  • Benzophenone-8
  • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
  • 3-Benzylidene camphor
  • Octocrylene
Sun Bum Face Sunscreen is my go to daily protectant. It is vegan and reef friendly, which is so essential for environemntal conservation. While you're already on a roll saving the planet, get yourself some Sun Bum Body Sunscreen as well.

2. Makeup Remover

On the topic of makeup, makeup wipes are quickly filling our waterways and landfills, and for no reason at all. Not only are they a major source of waste, but also a major source of money spent. Save yourself the trouble while traveling, and swap to a zero-waste option that you can even make yourself!

For the past few years, I have been using reusable cotton pads and a DIY makeup remover which leaves my skin feeling clean and hydrated – yay no toxic chemicals on my skin!

DIY Makeup Remover

The makeup remover is a combination of almond oil and rose hip water, but any oil-based solution will work! It even takes off my waterproof mascara! Look around you for a ‘Refill Store’, and get a makeup remover created just for you.

This is a great chance to reuse any old bottle (make it under 3oz. so you can take it on a carry-on), and refill it to make your perfect remover. I wear some makeup daily and only need to refill my 3oz container 1x per year! The cost is about $4 to fill the bottle.

Reusable Cotton Pads

Cotton pads are the best way to remove makeup with your new DIY remover. They are soft, eco-friendly, and can be homemade! Once I am low on clean cotton pads to use, I simply soak them and wash them with non-toxic soap, and they’re good as new! No searching for makeup wipes in a small town in Vietnam, you got yourself covered for months (if not years). The cost is free or $5 if you purchase them!

If you're not handy with a sewing machine, purchase yourself some Reusable Cotton Rounds!
Makeup Wipes Annual Cost Re-usable Annual Cost Annual Cost Savings

$0.02 / wipe * 365 days = $73

Pads + DIY Remover = $9

$64 Saved Annually

3. Menstrual Cup

If you’re a person that has periods, you need to get on board with this one. Menstrual cups are a complete game-changer for your monthly cycle in terms of health, ease, comfort, and cost.

Not only do they reduce unnecessary waste, but they are also so much better for your health. Shoving cotton *up there* affects your pH, meanwhile, silicon has no adverse effect on your body. Once the cup is in, you don’t even feel it!

If that doesn’t convince you, the cost savings will. Let’s assume the average period requires 4 tampons/day and lasts 5 days, that is 20 tampons/month. A box of tampons containing 47 tampons = $10.47, or $0.22/tampon. Over 1 year (13 cycles), that is $57!

A menstrual cup lasts about 8 years... that's right, 8 years of no tampons or pads. They vary in cost, but my personal favorite is the Pixie Menstrual Cup. This cup has different sizes since all bodies are different, comes with the cutest carrying bag, and has a Buy-1, Give-1 promise. Your purchase will benefit you, and a woman in need to have menstrual stability for the rest of her pre-menopausal life!
Pink menstrual cup and tampons which are both zero waste travel toiletry options

I have been using a menstrual cup for over a decade, and I couldn’t imagine ever going back. I do keep a few ob-applicator free tampons in my purse and bag for emergencies, and mostly since I have had them for years and can’t just toss them!

Tampons Annual Cost Menstrual Cup Annual Cost Annual Cost Savings

$0.22 / tampon * 20 tampons * 13 cycles = $57

Menstrual cup = $23 / 8 years = $3

$55 Saved Annually

4. Reusable Cotton Swab

Cotton swabs serve such a simple purpose, and they can easily be swapped out for something that will save you money and waste. Not to mention how bulky they are to keep in your travel bag.

If you just can't go without the feeling of being completely clean in your ear canal (I get it), at least opt for a more sustainable option like these Bamboo Swabs!
I use The Last Swab, and absolutely love it. The silicone tips are covered in little dots to leave your ears feeling clean and fresh every time. It is easy to clean, and takes up no space at all while traveling!
Cotton Swab Annual Cost Last Swab Annual Cost Annual Cost Savings

$0.01 / swab * 365 days = $3.65

The Last Swab = $11 / 5 years = $2.2

$1.45 Saved Annually

*Okay, so not a major cost savings, but it is a major waste reduction. Not to mention you won’t have to go buy some while you’re traveling and make space in your bag!

5. Soap + Scrub Bag

Once you’re traveling, you realize anything in a bottle takes up so much space. And if it is any type of soap or product, you realize it is mostly water taking up all that space!

Going for a bar of soap will save you so much space, and you have more control of what you’re putting on your body! Not to mention it will last at least 2x as long as a bottle of body wash.

You’ll never see organic, natural body wash soap, but you definitely can get that in a bar of soap, while also supporting local artisans as you travel!

Black and White scrubber bag for soap

Scrubber Pouch

Some people can just use soap and not scrub their bodies, and still feel clean. That’s not me, and if it’s not you either then a scrubber pouch for your soap is the perfect solution. Simply slide your soap into this woven little bag and you have an upgraded loofah that will last a while!

They come in a variety of designs and materials, so you can get one that works well for you. You can even try out making one yourself!

If you're going to give crocheting a go and make your own, props to you! However if crafting isn't your thing, check this high quality MainBasics Scrubber Pouch. Now you can wash away all your dirty consumeristic ways and say goodbye to plastic loofahs for good.

6. Bamboo Toothbrush

The bamboo toothbrush is the icon of ‘sustainable living’, but hey it’s true! Toothbrushes have a relatively short lifespan and should be replaced every 3 months. That means 4 of these plastic sticks end up in the landfill, or more likely washed up on a beach somewhere, where they stay for the next 500 years.

Set of 10 bamboo toothbrushes, labeled as Climate Pledge Friendly on Amazon
Switching to a bamboo toothbrush costs you $0 extra, and offers the opportunity to reduce your plastic use! Get yourself a pack of Bamboo Toothbrushes to bring along on your travels. It's always nice to have a spare when you need it, and you may not find these sustianable solutions in every country you go to!
Plastic Toothbrush Annual Cost Bamboo Toothbrush Annual Cost Annual Cost Savings

$3.98 / toothbrush * 4/year = $15.92

Toothbrush = $0.8 * 4/year = $3.2

$12.72 Saved Annually

Toothpaste Tablets

On the note of dental hygiene, toothpaste tablets have taken over the ‘zero-waste’ market. They are an ingenious solution to toothpaste tubes that typically can’t be recycled. But how feasible are they for travel?

To be honest, they’re not easy to come by in many parts of the world. And if they are, they can be outrageously expensive. While traveling for the past year, even in Westernized areas of Europe, I struggled to find them!

However, if you're in an area that receives Amazon deliveries, check for the Hello Toothpaste Tablets. They are only $7 for 1 month supply, which is comparable to your average bottle of toothpaste!
Blue container of toothpaste tablets to reduce waste
Generic Toothpaste Annual Cost Hello Tablets Annual Cost Annual Cost Savings

$1.0 / oz. * 14.2 oz / year = $14.2

$7.99 / month * 12 months = $95.88

-$81.48 Saved Annually

Toothpaste tablets aren’t a feasible swap for everyone yet, due to the high cost. Sustainable purchasing doesn’t have to be perfect, just be mindful and do what you can!

7. Medicine Organizer

Traveling with medicine is a good idea for a lot of reasons. You never know when you’re going to feel a type of way (headache, fever, stomach issues, no sleep, etc). Rather than bring a bunch of bulky bottles, or worse, not bring anything and try to find it in a foreign country when you need it most, get an organizer!

This Sukuos Medicine Organizer allowed me to just take the medicine and vitamins from my containers at home and have a bit of everything, just in case!
Open medicine organizer with various pills to use for travel

8. Jewelry Organizer

Okay, so not really toiletry per se. But, I have seen way too many people using zip-loc bags to hold their jewelry. While this does work, it wears down over time, resulting in waste, or doesn’t protect your jewelry, resulting in waste.

I am a big jewelry person, so this is a must-have for me. My case is reliable and durable, and it was a gift from a friend, so there was no unnecessary consumerism on my part! Ask around to your friends and family to see if they have something laying around for you that will help you stay organized!

Summary - Top 8 Must Have Zero Waste Travel Toiletries

By choosing zero waste toiletries, you will reduce the amount of waste you create, save money, and reduce the number of items in your luggage while traveling. Many of these items are affordable, and pay for themselves over a few months! Every item you purchase supports a future state of the world; one filled with trash that litters the planet for millennia, or one that prioritizes innovative solutions in a sustainable way.

We travel to see the beauty of nature around the world, let’s not fill it with trash and waste. Support low-waste items and support a cleaner future, for all.

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Packing, Travel Planning, 0 comments
Long Term Travel Packing Guide

Long Term Travel Packing Guide

You’re finally ready to start on your long-term travel adventure, exploring the world with everything you need on your back. But quickly, you get overwhelmed by downsizing your life into a single bag (or 2)! Here you will find the ultimate long term packing guide with some of my essential must-haves!

You don’t have to have everything figured out perfectly before leaving. Inevitably, there will be things you lose, donate, or give away, and other things that you want to pick up along the way. 

Start your packing with this complete packing list downloadable PDF!

An open suitcase that is being prepared for long term travel packing

Table of Contents

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Know Your Traveler Self

Before stuffing socks into sandals, let’s personalize your packing. Are you a sun-seeking beach bum or a mountain-climbing thrill-seeker? A culture vulture or a digital nomad with a laptop glued to your hip? Maybe a little bit of all of the above, open to whatever adventure is in front of you?

Understanding your travel style will be essential to making decisions on what to bring and what to leave behind. At the end of the day, you have to be selective about what you pack. Knowing the type of traveler you are will help you pack lighter, smarter, and not feel weighed down by what you travel with.

I’m a bit of all of the above – so I optimize for versatility & style, no matter if I’m behind my laptop, soaking up the sun with my feet in the sand, or hiking a mountain in the dead of winter. 

Backpacks are Best

Let’s start right off with what you’re packing your things into. This may not be for everyone – but, if you’re a long-term traveler, being able to travel easily makes life on the move so much easier. 

I couldn’t imagine trying to get on a motorbike with a big rolling suitcase, or just facing the cost and constantly having to rent a car! Traveling with 2 backpacks has been ideal for me, and most other long-term travelers I’ve met along the way. A large trekking bag for most of my things, and a smaller day bag for my camera gear, wallet, etc.

I can hop onto a bike with no problem, walk across European cities for miles, fit everything in the overhead compartment on planes, and have more than enough of what I need! The external pockets are great for any extra additions like a yoga mat or towel, or to strap on some dirty shoes after a long adventure.


Girl sitting on a motorbike with 2 backpacks on, an efficient way to travel in Asia

Master the Mix-n-Match

Having a limited amount of clothes with you makes picking your daily outfits pretty easy. That is if they work well together. 

My rule of thumb is every shirt must match 80% of my pants or shorts, and vice-versa. If an article of clothing is limited in what it matches, it doesn’t come. I’ve found I simply won’t wear it as much because it actually takes some thought! And let’s be honest, it’s nice not having to think about the combinations and just simply wear what I want. 

  1. Pick a color scheme and stick to it – mine is pretty neutral earth tones, with a few articles that are a bit more lively
  2. Black, grey, beige, and white go with everything
  3. Go for clothes that don’t get wrinkly, and are easy to wash

Versatility is Everything

While you probably have an idea where your travels will start, who knows where they will take you! Or, what you’ll find yourself doing along the way.

Having versatile clothes is essential to doing more and feeling comfortable doing it! I love that all of my pants can be used for a workout, hiking, sleeping, or being dressed up for a night out. My lightweight sarong is essential in Asian temples, and quadruples as a mini-skirt, a blanket on chilly nights, a scarf, or even a head wrap!

Put preference towards things that can be layered, worn in different ways, and used in many of the activities you want for yourself! If it doesn’t work for much, you won’t use it much. And that’s just wasted space!

Items packed for long term travel, laid out on the floor

Comfortable Footwear

No matter where you’re going, you’ll be on your feet. Maybe less if you’re a digital nomad headed to a beach destination, but don’t over-estimate comfortable shoes.

Having shoes that are lightweight, comfortable, quality, versatile, and stylish… that’s a unicorn. But stay on the lookout for your perfect shoe! The last thing you want is uncomfortable shoes that hold you back from adventuring the way you want. 

I travel with 2 pairs of shoes; sandals and trainers. My waterproof sandals (like teva’s or chacos) are stylish enough to be worn with a cute dress out, but also durable enough to climb. mountain in them! My trainers are red Altra’s, that I could walk for days in. They are a fun pop of color (although they often don’t match), and necessary for some physical training!

Toiletries - Less is More

Toiletries are the toughest thing to slim down because most of them are nice to have but not essential. So, how do you decide which ones to leave behind?

Especially for women, we have a lot more to consider in what we bring. We have menstrual cycles, hair care regimens, skin-care needs, makeup, and who doesn’t love good self-care pampering?

Although you won’t have a 10-step self-care routine with a steamer, jade roller, tonics, and oils, you will find that massages, manicures, and facials are pretty dang affordable in other places, so you can still treat yourself!

You will find that the more you travel the less makeup you’ll wear. Personal maintenance becomes natural and minimal, and it feels so good to release all the pressures of maintaining the ‘perfect’ look. Opt for low-waste and reusable toiletries that you never have to worry about re-stocking or being too bulky. 

These are my favorite travel essentials for my health and wellness that are low-waste, reusable, and affordable.

Travel Technology

Everyone’s level of connection to the digital world is different, but chances are, you have some tech that you want to bring along on the journey. Unlike clothes and basic toiletries which exist everywhere, technology isn’t as easy to find in more rural locations or developing nations. 

Whether you’re a digital nomad, a traveling photographer, or a wanderlust explorer, be sure you have these technology basics!

Pack Your Personal Wants

While things like clothes, shoes, and technology are up to the individual, there are some things that I couldn’t imagine traveling without. These are the things that are personal to me, a homebody at heart who loves a long-term adventure.

I’m a creative, artistic person. And since I can’t bring a canvas and oil paints abroad, I need to have a creative outlet. The first few months of travel, I didn’t have this, I went as minimalist as possible, and I felt like a part of me was missing. Now, I always travel with a journal, watercolor paint, and an engraver tool! Now, I can create with my hands from anywhere, and all of these things fit into a small purse. 

Maybe you’re a musician – leave the guitar at home and opt for a harmonica or a local maraca-style instrument. Or if you’re a cozy queen, make some space for fuzzy socks to feel at home. If you’re a gamer, get yourself a Nintendo Switch to play on the go, or some reusable utensils to eat everywhere you are for the foodies of the group.

Nobody talks about our hobbies and interests enough. While it is enlightening to rely on less material things, don’t lose yourself in the process.

Packing Tips

1. Avoid Overpacking

Save yourself some space in your bag, and try to limit your packing to the bare essentials of what you’ll need! I guarantee there will be things you don’t really need that are taking up precious space, and things you wish you had room for that you want to pick up along the journey.

2. Everything Should Have a Place

When life is constantly in and out of bags, having a place for everything is crucial to staying organized. And no, that doesn’t include the clothing haphazardly clipped to the outside of your bag.

3. Packing Cubes are Life-Savers

Packing cubes are crucial to keep your clothes organized, wrinkle-free, and easy to find when you’re constantly on the go. Use things you already have like a scarf, cloth produce bags, or an old bag that’s been sitting in your closet!

4. Roll Your Clothes

Tried and tested – rolling your clothes saves a lot more space than folding them. That’s all.

5. Bring Clothes you 'Like', not 'Love'

If it comes down to making space for souvenirs, or if you’re not using something, would you be able to donate it or gift it? Or will you feel like you have to keep carrying it to bring it back home? Avoid traveling with things that you love, unless you are 100% sure you will use them while traveling!

6. Leave Space for Memories!

You’ll want to pick up some memorable things along the way. Be sure to leave some extra space for the unknowns – like unique shells from a Thai island, a hand-woven scarf from Morocco, or a traditional Japanese Kimono (they’re cheap second-hand)!

Summary - Long Term Travel Packing Guide

It took me some trial and error, and more money spent than what was necessary to nail down the perfect packing structure to ensure I have everything I need while saving space for the things I want.

Don’t forget to minimize what you bring, making sure everything has a place in the bag that is right for you! Don’t overestimate some of the packing essentials, and less is always more.

The goal of long-term travel is to take it slow, don’t overthink too much, and experience as much of the world and yourself as you can, so don’t let what and how you pack make your life harder than it needs to be!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Packing, Travel Planning, 0 comments