Packing List: Eco-Friendly Toiletries for Backpackers – with a printable checklist!

by deertraveler
toiletries packing list_deodorant cream

We always travel lighweight, and it's very important for us to have a compact, eco-friendly packing list. Here in this blog post, we summarized all the essential toiletries that are necessary for backpackers, travelers - and they are all eco-friendly and affordable as well. The best thing is that eco toiletries are also more practical, handy for traveleres -they always last longer, than anything else! 🙂 Some of them cost more money because they are long-term investments and last longer than a cheap, single-use product. Keep on reading!

More than 552 million plastic bottles from bathroom products end up in landfills, per year!! Some plastic bottles could be recycled, but what are the chances in reality, that the plastic bottles of the shampoo or shower gel end up in the right bins?

Using the toiletries provided by the hotel or hostel you are staying can be very unsustainable, as the small shampoos, conditioners, body creams are usually packed in plastic bags and bottles. (unless it’s an eco-friendly hotel).  The empty or more often half-empty small plastic bottles then end up in landfill - and stay there for hundreds of years. We usually stay in hostels where they don’t give you unnecessarily these products, or we stay in eco-friendly hotels. 

We also have a main article with all the travel essentials, check it out here:

Travel Essentials Packing List - Affordable and Eco-friendly Backpacking

Save and print this checklist below to not forget anything at home! 🙂


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Let’s see all the eco-friendly toiletries we pack with us for a trip! 

Shampoo and conditioner

Another good reason to ditch shower gel and shampoo in a plastic bottle: bar soap doesn't contain as high a proportion of water as shower gels or liquid soaps, bar soap tends to last a lot longer and is more cost-effective! 

Packing a plastic shampoo bottle is (you know, the 100 ml that you can carry on a plane….) is very unsustainable, as you need soooo many little plastic bottles… When you travel with only a carry on bag, you will most likely bring one 100 ml plastic bottle with shampoo, which won’t last very long. So you will buy another plastic bottle at your destination, which you will not be able to finish, so you will leave it in your hostel or hotel. This is very UNSUSTAINABLE! 

If you have the chance, of course, you can refill your shampoo bottles in a zero-waste store. But unless you’re in Northern Europe, Canada or the USA, you most likely won’t find zero waste stores. 

The best way to spare yourself the struggle with the small plastic bottles is to use shampoo bars. Shampoo bars are compact, small, there are not liquids, so you can bring as many on the plane as you want to.

You can also easily get conditioner bars! 

Below you can find some of our favourites! 🙂  Start shopping now!

Soap bars instead of shower gel 

When you decide to ditch plastic bathroom products, pay attention when buying soap bars because some soap bars are wrapped in plastic. 

  • Avoid soap wrapped in plastic, choose the ones in paper or without anything! 
  • Check the ingredients and choose the natural soap avoiding chemical ingredients

Facial Bar Soap

The natural and zero waste alternative to facial cleansing liquids in plastic tubes:  facial bar soap! 🙂 

Body lotion

Try to avoid body lotion in plastic tubes and bottles! Instead, choose the ones in recyclable or refillable packs.

This one is one of our favourites! A traveller-friendly lotion in metal box. It is not a liquid, so you wont need to worry about spilling or making a mess inside your backpack 🙂

Click here to check our favourite choice! The Wander bar Lotion bar, perfect for travellers!

The brand Ethique also has a body lotion bar, click here to check it out! We love the Ethique products because they are plastic free, palm oil free and vegan <3

Bamboo Toothbrush 

In the United States alone it is estimated that between 850 million, and over a billion toothbrushes end up in the landfills EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. These toothbrushes end up in the ocean, causing the death of marine life as well, and let’s not forget about the fact that they are not biodegradable and they remain in the landfills indefinitely. 

There already are many sustainable alternatives to plastic toothbrushes: we prefer the ones made of bamboo! A bamboo toothbrush is a basic element on packing list of eco-friendly toiletries! 🙂 

Check out our favorite bamboo toothbrushes here and get one for yourself!

Bamboo toothbrushes_Eco-friendly toiletries

Our bamboo toothbrushes

Dental floss

We were actually never fans of flossing, but we have recently just discovered how important it is! Well, but normal dental flosses are made of toxic materials and they come in plastic packaging...Since nylon floss is virtually impossible to recycle, it ends up in incineration plants that pollute our air, or in landfills, where it turns into microplastics and its particles pollute the soil and groundwater.

And just like the nylon thread itself, the packaging floss comes in is typically non-biodegradable plastic waste, which means more plastic waste.

Alternatives: there are some silk dental flosses on the market, and silk is a natural ingredient, so we can recommend that. The disadvantage is that it’s not vegan. 

Bamboo dental floss is the other environmental friendly alternative, they contain no preservatives, gluten, artificial colors, or sweeteners.

Toothpaste Tabs

There are actually lots of alternatives to toothpaste! The tubes aren’t biodegradable either, and they have lots of chemicals, so the best is the avoid them 🙂 

You can either make your own toothpaste with some simple ingredients, or you can get some toothpaste tabs or powder. It’s basically the same, you can also crash the tabs and get a powder at the end. Usually, you get these tabs or powders in a glass jar, so it’s absolutely sustainable! 

Click here to start shopping for Toothpaste tablets!

Toothpaste tablets_Toiletries for backpacking

Q-Tips for cleaning our ears? 

Well, some say it’s not actually necessary, but if you do find it important, then it’s also very easy to avoid the single-use plastic q-tips. 

Check out these natural and biodegradable bamboo swabs!

Natural Bath Sponge 

If you’re a sponge person (is that an existing word? 😀 ), then you definitely have to try sea sponges. There is also the vegan and eco-friendly alternative, the sponge made from natural bamboo charcoal and konjac

Click here to check out the eco-friendly sea sponges on amazon.

If you are vegan as well, you might prefer the vegan and eco friendly sponges. Click here to check them out.

Deodorant cream - refillable metal box 

Or DIY deodorant cream

All the sprays, but especially deodorant sprays are bad for the environment because they contain hydrocarbons and/or compressed gases notorious for their contribution to global warming. Unfortunately, these cans and plastic boxes are not recyclable at all. 

The best alternative to all the single-use deodorant products is deodorant cream, that comes in a (not plastic!) box.

deodorant cream

You can also make your own deodorant cream, there are plenty of ideas on the internet. We recently discovered more brands in the zero waste stores in Vienna, some of them also sell deodorant cream especially for men. You can also refill these boxes, but if not, then you can just recycle them for something at home. 

Deodorant creams also last longer, so they are the best for traveling as well! 🙂 


Check out these deodorant creams!

Safety razors 

2 Billion disposable razors ending up in the landfill each year! The life of a plastic razor is… how much? 1 month or 2? Then it ends up in the trash bin, in the landfills, in the oceans… for hundreds of years… 

If you don’t want to contribute to this number, the best is to invest in a safety razor! These ones are made for a lifetime, not for months. We also wanted to share with you this excellent guide to eco-friendly shaving with plastic-free razors, click here to check it out! 

A guide to eco friendly shaving.

Five tips for eco friendly shave.

Click here and start shopping for eco-friendly safety razors now! 

Sunscreen - ocean safe and coral reef safe 

When you choose a sunscreen, it’s important to avoid the ones with chemical and toxic materials that can harm the environment. It’s especially important if you use the sunscreen and then go swimming in the ocean because all the harmful elements of the sunscreen get into the ocean, killing marine life. Harmful chemicals can damage coral reefs. 

So far this All Good sunscreen is the absolute best that we have found on the market! 

It’s not in a plastic tube like all the others, it’s in a metal box! It’s a bit pricey, but it lasts very long, and it’s a small box, so it fits everywhere and perfect for travelers! 



DIY Mosquito repellent 

So far we haven’t found any good eco-friendly mosquito repellents that weren’t packed in plastic. So we recommend you to to give it a try: make your own mosquito repellent 🙂 

Here is a very good recipe that we have found, check it out! 



For Woman 

Organic and zero waste makeup?

Well, if it’s about makeup and traveling, be minimalistic! I usually don’t bring with me anything else than basic powder for my face 😀 But it’s a personal decision! 

It’s not easy to find zero-waste makeup at all, also that’s why I’m trying to avoid using makeup in general. 

When I choose makeup, I go for vegan and organic, natural makeups, but as I said - very minimalistic. 

If you go for makeup and you are interested in zero waste brands, I would suggest you check out this very cool blog post about zero waste makeup brands from the blog Going Zero Waste! 



Cotton pads for cleaning makeup

These are my favorites! I do have reusable cotton pads from zero waste stores, and I love them. You can actually make your own cotton pads from old clothes as well. 

Reusable cotton pads are the most practical thing I have ever had, especially when traveling for a longer period of time. You just clean your face, wash them with some water and soap, leave them to dry during the night - and that’s all. 

Start shopping for reusable cotton pads!

Menstrual cups

Fact: Tampons, pads and panty liners along with their packaging and individual wrapping generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, and they all contain plastic – in fact, pads are around 90% plastic! The average user throws away an astonishing 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime.

Menstrual cup_Eco-friendly toiletries

These two products are so perfect for female travelers! Both are reusable, that means you just have to wash them, after using them. 

Menstrual cups sound so scary, I know, but they are actually very comfortable and durable as well. The good thing is that you only have to change it every 12 hours, that means you basically can forget about your period and enjoy the trip! 


Period Panties

Period panties are basically panties that absorb your period. No more pads, tampons, no more waste! How cool is that!


Are you interested in reading more about sustainable traveling? Check out these articles as well:

12 (+1) tips for sustainable traveling

How to take an eco-friendly roadtrip 


Packing List Eco-friendly Toiletries
Packing List Eco-friendly Toiletries in Spanish

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Backpackingcouple July 26, 2019 - 7:38 pm

Great article and products! We also changed most of our products and are always looking where to improve. How do you like the toothpaste tablets?

deertraveler July 29, 2019 - 8:39 pm

So you are doing the best guys! It is not a difficult action to take 🙂 And the tablets are doing a great job 😀 One tablet is enough for one brushing, and if you are crashing it and use a powder, you do not need a lot to wash your teeth. We like toothpaste tablets! 🙂


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