One of the things that I really don’t enjoy about having a holiday is the packing process: taking out the suitcases, organising everything you want to take with you, imagining the things you may need, pondering if the amount of clothes you are packing will be enough, dealing with the sensation that you are forgetting something important… Not my cup of tea.

Anyways, given that I recently had a holiday, I thought I share with you some of the items I always pack to reduce waste or use to simplify the packing process.


Years ago, I used to take/use free toiletries from the hotels/accommodations because I thought that’s what they were there for and I was paying for those ones. Later in my journey, I realised that these items are really wasteful and every time I use them, they keep replacing them and more demand is created.

Just imagine staying 1-2 nights in these places, we use a bar of soap a couple of times and that’s it, unless we take the remaining soap with us, it is thrown away. Also, things like shampoos and conditioners usually come in plastic and sometimes depending on the packaging some are really hard to recycle.

These days hotels are starting to wake up to this problem. Recently the big chain Holiday Inn announced they will stop providing mini-toiletries to help combat plastic pollution.  They are switching to refillable bottles for all bathroom products. According to the article, “Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels” uses an average of 200 million miniature products across its hotels every year. That’s massive!

Since then I’ve stopped using these items all together, I just take what I need from home. These are 3 essential ones:

1. Shampoo and soap bars

Switching to shampoo bars definitely made my packing process simpler, I certainly don’t miss packing liquid shampoo. I just use a case I have had for years to pack both, my shampoo bar and a natural soap bar.

2. Almond/Jojoba Oil

Instead of moisturisers, for my trips I like to use natural oils like jojoba or almond. I just pour it in a small glass jar and that’s it. I can use it for my face, body and hands. I sometimes even use almond oil as a lip gloss too!

3. Castile Soap

When I travel I love to take castile soap with me because it is a multi-purpose product, you can use it as a hand wash, shaving soap, laundry soap (to hand-wash clothes). I have even used it as as a dishwasher soap. You can use the liquid version or the bar version.

Almond oil, castile soap refill and soap

Almond oil, castile soap refill and soap

Reusable items

The best way to reduce waste, specially disposable plastic is to be prepared and take some reusable items with  you. These are my 4 key ones:

4. Water bottle

This is one of the most essentials item to bring for any trip, reusable water bottles help me reduce waste (I refuse to buy bottled water as much as I can) and also help me to stay hydrated as I always end up drinking more water than usual when I have my bottle around.

For air travelling, the bottle must be empty before the security check, once inside there are plenty of water fountains to fill the bottles. I always make sure it is full before boarding the plane, so I have plenty to drink during the trip.

During the holiday, we take our bottles with us every day and refill it as we need.

Stainless steel water bottles

Stainless steel water bottles

5. Cutlery set

My husband and I own a bamboo cutlery set each. It brings a spoon, fork, knife and chopsticks. During holidays, we just keep them in our backpack/handbag all the time and use them often to avoid disposable plastic.

They are often needed in airports, as most food is take-away style. We always pack our sets in the carry-on luggage, except for the knife which we store in our regular luggage just in case. We have used them in airports and also planes without any issue.

Bamboo cutlery

Bamboo cutlery

6. Bags

Reusable bags are handy to buy food, as we tend to stay in home-style accommodations. We always pack a handful of produce bags and 2-3 foldable bags.

Reusable bags on the go

Reusable bags on the go

7. Containers/silicon bags

Containers are very handy. During our trips, we use them to take leftovers home, to take snacks or lunch with us (e.g. when doing walks in nature) or to store food scraps. We always eat fruits as snacks, so we end up with many peels that we don’t want to throw away, so we store them in these containers or bags during the day, and later at the accommodation we freeze them to donate to community gardens or people via ShareWaste as we believe food don’t belong to landfill.

Because they take a bit of space, we always fill them with clothes or other items. Weight is usually not a problem as we use reusable plastic containers and they are very light.


8. Pillow cases

Years ago, I used to pack several plastic bags to separate dirty clothes in my suitcase in case I still had clean one left. These days I always pack pillow cases instead, they work really well and you can fit as much or as little as you like. When I am back I just wash it with my dirty laundry.

Pillow cases for laundry

9. Cushion covers

Instead of using plastic bags (or shower caps as I’ve seen in travel hacks in the last few years) I love to pack my shoes in cushion covers. They are perfect because they come with a zipper and that keeps any dust or dirt inside. Also the size is perfect to store 1 or 2 pairs of shoes. I have also used these cases to store dirty clothes, but I usually prefer the pillow cases as they are bigger.

Cushion cover to pack shoes

Cushion cover to pack shoes

You can use any existing cushion covers you already have at home, but if you are concerned about stains, just buy them second hand. I own 3 cases, two are some old worn out cases I had for years, and the third one I bought it in the op-shop.

10. Home compostable bags

Tied to point number 7, we use compostable bags to accumulate fruits and veggies scraps in the fridge/freezer and donate them later.

“We love our planet Earth. We should – it is our home, and there’s no place like home. There can’t ever be a better place than Earth” – Dimitar Sasselov

That’s it for today, I hope you have found some ideas for your next trip. If so, please let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,