Travel Essentials Packing List – Affordable and Eco-friendly Backpacking

by deertraveler
couple backpacking eco-friendly

A lot of people asked us for packing advice, so here it is: we finally came up with an article about affordable and eco-friendly travel essentials. Some people write lists, others just have everything in their minds. Some people have already packed everything days before the trip, others pack in the last minutes before they have to leave the house.  But everyone knows that packing is an important part of the trip, a part of the preparation for the experience of traveling. Our essentials have to be affordable, lightweight, durable and eco-friendly as well. So let’s see our packing list of travel essentials! 

PS.: Never ever forget your bus, flight or train tickets and your passport, these items should be the first things on your list! 🙂 

If you can, choose NOT to print your tickets, but have it online on your phone. Nowadays it’s possible everywhere, but you should check it just to make sure. If you don’t have to print, then spare that paper! 🙂


We created a free printable packing checklist with travel essentials, click here to download it! 🙂

Backpack vs. suitcase 

Honestly, we always have problems with suitcases, but it’s more like a personal decision, and it depends on the way you travel as well. So let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of both of them:


Backpacks are very practical for hiking or traveling in countries where the roads aren’t so good. The size of your backpack depends on the length of your trip and the way of transportation. 

If you’re traveling on a budget, then we suggest you to only bring a  backpack, that is going to be accepted as a carry on luggage on most airlines. Most of the time the carry on luggage can be a backpack between 33 L - 45 L, but always check the exact regulations of the airlines!

Extra tip: If it’s written 7 kg, we would still go for 10 kg, because no one is checking the weight of the carry on luggage… Actually, we never check the weight of our carry on backpacks…

When we travel, our priority is to travel lightweight, so we don’t want to overpack. If you’re planning on traveling longer, you can always check for accommodation with washing machines, so that you can do your laundry every now and then 😀

Our other big fear of traveling with check-in luggage is actually that it will get lost and we will lose our stuff. Another advantage of traveling only with a carry-on backpack, that you can take as many flights as you want without having to pay extra 30-45 euros each time for your check-in luggage. Of course, you can also choose traveling by bus or train, and then you won’t have this problem! 

Here are some of our favorite backpacks, check them out: 

All the backpacks shown above are from sustainable and ethical companies. They create their products with recycled and durable materials, appart from take ethical actions with their workers and suppliers.


If it’s about suitcases, then it’s important to prefer quality over the price, as you can find super cheap suitcases that get destroyed super fast...And well, you don’t want to buy a new suitcase every month. 

Suitcases are perfect for traveling in towns and cities with good roads and good public transportation, as it makes it easier for you to actually pull your suitcase, not carry it in your hands. 

Tip: Most of the European budget airlines do not allow you to travel with a trolley as a carry on luggage! Even if the size of your suitcase is good, they will charge you extra money for bringing a trolley. So: European airlines, only backpack as carry on!

Start shopping for Suitcases on Amazon!

Packing smarter! 

To spare some space, we always roll our clothes, that’s a good tactic. You can also get some packing cubes, they are very popular nowadays! Or alternatively, you can get a compressing pouch!

Essentials for plane, bus, train 

  • Earplugs -  it useful if you’re traveling during the night, and you can’t sleep when others are snoring around you 😀 Do not forget to bring your own earplugs! Don’t ask for earplugs in airplanes, because they are only used once, they are in a plastic package and they will end up in the landfill after 1 usage…  
  • Eye covers - Same as earplugs, very useful for a night train or plane if you’re bothered by the lights. Bring your own! 
  • A blanket/ sweater - when you get cold on the bus or plane, it’s good to have a sweater or a blanket, so that you don’t have to open the blanket of the planes, that is wrapped in a plastic package as well. 
  • Travel pillows - well, it’s obvious: it’s good to sleep comfortably :)) 
  • Music, headphones, and books to read - if you get bored easily, it’s good to have something to entertain yourself on a long journey!

Before taking a long journey, never forget to fill your water bottle, so that you don’t have to buy a plastic water bottle when you get thirsty. Also, if it’s a long journey, get some snacks before you get hungry 😀

Essentials in your luggage


Food and drinks

Water bottle with a filter! 

A water bottle is key to not having to buy plastic bottles all the time! In a lot of countries in Asia, Africa or South America you can’t get drinkable tap water, so it’s important to get a water bottle with filter when you travel to these countries!

Start shopping for water bottles with filter on Amazon right now! 🙂 

Coffee cup

If you like to drink coffee or tea, but you’re rather in a hurry and want it to take away, then don’t forget your coffee cup at home! For us, it’s essential to get a to-go coffee when we go on a trip, so we always carry our cups!

Start shopping for Coffee cups on Amazon right now!

eco-friendly travel essentials

Reusable cutlery and reusable straws - bamboo or stainless steel 

A picnic, takeaway food or a cocktail party, it doesn’t matter - you never know when you will need your reusable cutlery and straws. 

There are millions of plastic cutleries and straws ending up in landfills and in our oceans, let’s not contribute to that! We think that everyone needs reusable cutlery and straws if they travel so that they don’t contribute to the pollution of the countries they visit 🙂

eco-friendly travel essentials

Sandwich bags 

Snacks for a day trip? Pack them in your own reusable bags, not in a plastic bag that you will throw away after 2 minutes! We have our own from PlanetWise, but you can check other brands as well here:

Food box 

Take a small food box with you, that you can use when you ask for takeaway food so that you avoid the trash!

Net bags and tote bags for shopping

In most of the countries, unfortunately, plastic bags are still not banned. This means that in the supermarkets and markets they will put the fruits and vegetables in plastic bags. In some countries, they even put every single item in a plastic bag at the cashier!

net bags sustainable living

our net bags for fruits and veggies

Extra tip: It’s important to respect other cultures and people, so do not force them to do anything, but try to be respectful and say in their own language that you don’t want a plastic bag! Maybe show your own bag and smile, and show respect, and say thank you for their effort (they obviously just want to help you with giving you a plastic bag, they don’t know about the environmental effects, and that’s not their fault!)

When we buy fruits and veggies in a foreign country, we put them in our net bags, and we say at the cashier that we do not want a plastic bag for carrying our groceries, we put them in our own tote bags and backpacks.

Here are our favorite picks for you, go and check them out:

Toiletries and personal care 

Personal hygiene is very important, especially when you trave. We wrote a full guide to eco-friendly toiletries for backpackers with a compact and budget-friendly packing list! 

Click here to check it out our full guide to eco-friendly and affordable toiletries with a printable checklist! 🙂


bamboo toothbrushes eco travel

What To Wear 

This won’t be a packing list, just advice 🙂 

What clothes to pack is definitely determined by weather, the duration of your trip and of course your taste! 

Always check the weather forecast before you  go for a trip, but never completely rely on it, because it always changes. We left ourselves to get discouraged by bad forecast before trips a lot of times, and in the end, the weather was never how it was supposed to be! 

When we go on a trip with carry-on luggage, we try to spare as much space in our backpacks as we can. If you have a suitcase, you have more space, but you still have to pack wisely.

 1. Always try to imagine yourself wearing your clothes, and always try to combine them in your head with other pieces that you bring. Basically: think in outfits!  Sometimes I was packing things because I thought I liked them, but in the end, I wasn’t actually wearing them. Why? Because I couldn’t combine them with other pieces that I packed. 

 2. Pack clothes that you can easily combine! Cloth pieces that you can wear with all the other pieces in your backpack are the best! For example, I love shirts and pants with flowers and patterns, but usually, these are the ones that you can not combine. So minimalist clothes are the best: blue or black jeans, white or cream-colored pants. Shirts: black, white, cream color. 

Travel essentials packing list

Backpacking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

3. ...or you can choose a color scheme! On some of my trips, I only used red clothes or pieces that I could combine with red. 

4. Multi-purpose: Prefer cloth pieces that can have multiple functions! A summer dress that can also be a nigh-out dress or an evening dress.

5. It might not be your taste, but if you’re traveling in winter, it’s good to have leggings. Leggings can also have multiple functions - pants, or pajamas, or wearing under a dress.

What I recently discovered and I think it’s a nice idea: 

Convertible, multi-purpose travel dresses! Check out some here: 


We created a free printable packing checklist with travel essentials, click here to download it! :)

Photo Gear

Not everyone needs an extra list for photo gear, but if yes, then there are plenty of options, depending on your needs. 

Selfie stick 

We really don’t think that it is a necessary object to take good selfies, but if you are traveling with a group or you want to get some cool poses for your photos, try to get one that will last longer. 

If you want to take high quality and professional photos on your trip, then you might want to add these to your packing list and you might want to invest in a professional photo gear: 


Camera / DSLR or mirrorless camera   



In case you get a drone, don’t forget to check the regulations for each country 


Chargers for phones

If you travel internationally, it’s good to get an international charger, or if you take a trip to a special country, don’t forget to get the charger of that place. 

Click here to start shopping for universal chargers on Amazon! 


Power bank

It is a life-saver on our trips! As we use 2 phones and camera at the same time, we always need a power bank for a longer journey or for a long day, when we are moving the whole day. Getting a power bank depends on your necessities, but we do recommend you if you are looking forward to a longer journey. 

Click here to start shopping for power banks on Amazon! 

travel essentials packing list

Backpacking in Mexico and being prepared: camera, umbrella, tripod... and of course, Dante carries everything 😀

Are you ready for the adventure? Don't forget your travel insurance!

World Nomads has the best insurance options for backpackers, young travelers and digital nomads.

Rainy weather



If you go next to the water

Waterproof case for your phone

Waterproof bag or covers


Beach towel



We created a free printable packing checklist with travel essentials, click here to download it! 🙂

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 for backpackers

Did you like this post and want to save it for later or share it with others? Find some pins for this post below!

You may also like

Leave a Comment