Photo: Yuricazac/Shutterstock

16 Cheap and Sustainably-Minded Gifts for Travelers

United States Sustainability Student Work Budget Travel
by Sarah de los Cobos Dec 16, 2015

1. Sleep aids, $13

Only three products are needed to convert a hostel dorm over the streets of Barcelona into a private room ensuite: earplugs, a sleep mask and Melatonin. Since Melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body, you can rest safely with Natrol vegetarian tablets. Less than acceptable accommodations will no longer have power, so party on, strangers.

2. Peppermint foot products, $9

Long days spent traipsing around Grenada, Spain or hiking the Inca Trail can call attention to tired feet. But nothing feels better than tingly toes before bed. Burt’s Bees has a 100% natural foot lotion that will make all your problems go away.

3. Essential oils, $5-$20

This is a gift your traveler can use every day. Orange oil will wake them up in the morning and lavender will calm them down at night. The right dose of peppermint can zap a headache, while a whiff of jasmine will make them completely OK with the fact that they’ve been sitting in an upright bus station chair for the past 8 hours. Try some of the 100% pure oils from Mountain Rose Herbs.

4. Supportive insoles, $50

This might be a bit of a splurge, but a premium insole can prevent the long-term damage caused by trekking through the Andes or even just strolling through a rainforest nature trail. These vegan insoles by Superfeet offer both comfort and an ethical promise.

5. Coconut oil, $6

No need to pack 10 different products for just a few days in Bruges. No other product serves as a moisturizer, digestion aid, sunburn soother, toothpaste and deodorant all in one. Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is processed to retain full nutritional value and they’re sure to be the best price in town.

6. Natural breath spray, $4

just another day in paradise.

A photo posted by hello products (@helloproducts) on

It’s amazing what a few spritzes of spray can do for your morale after an overnight bus ride in South America and a few days without a shower. A clean mouth can be the difference between a meltdown and a night out salsa dancing with the locals. Hello Breath Spray is vegan and free of artificial sweeteners.

7. Ginger root, $7

Every traveler knows that motion sickness can strike at any moment. When you’re trying to make it through the bumpy speedboat ride from Montezuma to Jacó, Costa Rica, this potent herb will prevent a nausea nightmare. Give your traveler a few vegetarian capsules to keep stashed for emergencies.

8. Eco-conscious activewear, $32-$72

You can easily spot a foreigner by their colorful yoga pants in the English countryside, but then again, maybe their giant backpack gave them away first. Every piece of clothing by Teeki is made using recycled plastic water bottles. Odd as it may sound, these pants are so comfortable, your traveler might feel inspired to bust out a vinyasa roadside while the locals snap pictures.

9. Tiger Balm, $5-$8

Aches and pains will destroy that epic moment atop the Arc de Triomphe faster than you can drop your iPhone off the side. Good for sinus trouble, sore muscles and headaches, the natural herbs in Tiger Balm can fix nearly everything. Hiding it from fellow travelers is highly encouraged.

10. Quick-dry underthings, $13-$28

There aren’t many things worse than putting on wet underwear and socks. The best fabrics for travel are often made of tech material, which is designed to support athletes. For products that dry faster, shop for gear like Outta-Sight Underwear by American Eagle Outfitters. AEO is committed to social responsibility, recycling and green initiatives companywide, so you can play it safe and dry.

11. Pocket-sized detergent, $5

Learning to do laundry on the road is part of the traveler’s right of passage. Having the ability to wash unmentionables in a hostel sink means you can free up some bag space for everything else you wanted to buy at the street market in Bangkok. The biodegradable leaves in this compact by Sea to Summit, soap up and clean really well, sans phosphates.

12. Flexible water bottle, $10

For any traveler who’s used the reusable Vapur anti-bottle, a trip without it just isn’t the same. It stores a half liter of water — or wine — and folds up to a pocket-size when it’s empty. Virtually weightless, this travel tool causes a lot of jealousy within the backpacking community.

13. Packaged health food, $3

When emergency hunger strikes, otherwise known as “hangry,” sugar packets will not suffice. A traveler’s rule is to always keep a protein bar handy. You may even be able to barter food for a Guinness in Ireland with a ravenous traveler. It doesn’t get much better than GoMacro Bars though. Ingredients are sourced sustainably and each delicious bar is organic, vegan and free of gluten.

14. Guided meditation downloads, $8-$13

What are you grateful for this weekend? #Headspace

A photo posted by Headspace (mindfulness app) (@headspace) on

The importance of sanity on the road is pretty understated. A number of tools are needed to keep a cool head and a casual attitude throughout any journey. Meditation and breathing techniques, like those taught by Headspace, just might prevent a tear-filled phone call home midway through El Camino. Plus, their Get Some/Give Some principle ensures one subscription is donated for every purchase received.

15. Facial wipes, $5

Everyone can benefit from a cleansing wipe at the end of the day. When travel is dirty and showers are scarce, removing oils and dust before bed feels like a luxury. Plus, wipes meant for removing makeup can double as a quick bath on the go. With recyclable packaging and an ingredient list free from harsh chemicals, perfumes and dyes, products by Simple offer an easy way to tidy up, worry free.

16. Journal, $9

No traveler’s packing manifesto is complete without mention of a journal. Used to jot down memories, personal reflections, notes of gratitude, or even directions, a notebook is the most useful tool around. In the world of travel, no detail is too small to go undocumented. Raven and Lily provides employment to impoverished women with their journals that are handmade from recycled materials.

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