Here’s the thing about travel lovers: it’s not just that they love the act of traveling (because spending 12 hours cooped up in a metal can 30,000 feet in the air is not, actually, all that enjoyable). The reason why we wander-lust addled people love travel SO MUCH, why it fills our dreams and tugs at our souls, boils down to two reasons: a desire to see the big, beautiful world; and an appreciation of the people who live in it. Yep, we’re all a bunch of softies.
Sometimes these two passions can feel at odds with the actual act of traveling, which is inherently not the greenest hobby. But travel also tends to make us more aware of our own footprint, and generally fuels a desire to make a positive impact on the world.
One of the many ways we are working on making a positive impact – along with things like carbon offsetting our flights, working towards a zero-waste household, and supporting sustainable and ethical businesses at home and abroad – is through conscientious consumerism. We strive to vote with our wallets and support businesses who have the same priorities as we do. Businesses who care about the world and the people in it, who are working to fight climate change, who pay their employees a fair and living wage, and who are aligned with our values.
All that is to say: our eco-friendly gift guide is full of ethically- and sustainably-made products. So you can truly feel good about treating your loved ones (ahem: or yourself) this holiday season. Or just like, whenever.
- Sustainable Shopping Tip: Many of the products in this gift guide are sold by REI, one of our favorite conscientious retailers. When you’re browsing on REI’s website, you can filter your search results by sustainability. It’s one of their regular menu filters, like color/price/sizing. Isn’t that rad?
Without further ado, let’s jump into the fun bit, shall we?! Here’s all the stuff you’re gonna want to buy! Cuz yes, y’all: we tree-hugging granola-eating flower children love shopping, too.
Psst: Looking for more gift inspiration? Check out some of our other gift guides!
- 25 Gifts for Hikers Under $25
- 50 Perfect Gifts for Every Type of Travel Lover (& for Yourself)
- 28 Totally Unnecessary Travel Gifts (That You’ll Low-Key Want)
By the way: we’ve got an entire other gift guide filled with travel-themed home stuff – check it out here!
Eco-Friendly Home Goods
Let’s face it: when you’re a travel lover, you want to be surrounded by travel things all the time. That includes when you’re stuck at the office or at home daydreaming about your next trip!
Which is why many travel lovers have a house filled with souvenirs, postcards, and knickknacks they’ve picked up on their journeys. If you happen to admire one, you’ll end up with a story about where they got it and before you realize what’s happening, you’ll have booked a plane ticket. Whoops! #sorrynotsorry #wanderlustiscontagious
Fuel your gift recipients’ wanderlust by helping them stock their home or office with things that remind them that their next adventure is just around the corner!
- Pendleton Blanket: This is one of those Ultimate Gifts items. Owning a Pendleton blanket is sort of like owning a real silver tea set, or a real Tiffany’s lamp, or something else that’s expensive and fancy. It’s #goals AF. Pendleton blankets are gorgeously designed in partnership with Native American artisans, and made from organically grown wool.
- Ceramic Mug: This beautiful stoneware coffee mug is made by one of our favorite sustainable brands, United by Blue.
- This Land is Your Land Calendar: This calendar features images from the USA’s National Parks and public lands, and the publisher is an independent carbon-negative US company that has planted more than 3 quarters of a million trees since 2008.
- Adventure Dogs Calendar: Listen. This is the best gift on this entire list. You can just stop searching now. It’s an entire calendar full of pictures of dogs going on adventures. Need I say more?!?!?!?!? I will, though: the calendar is printed on paper sourced from a combination of recycled materials and wood harvested from socially and environmentally sustainable forests and is Forest Stewardship Council® certified, plus the printing company plants 20x the number trees they use to offset their carbon footprint.
Eco-Friendly Travel Stocking Stuffers
Let’s face it: stockings are the best part of Christmas gift-giving. There is nothing more fun than pulling a bunch of tiny gifts out of a large sock.
I’m not being sarcastic, either: we freaking love it. So much so that last year, Jeremy and I ONLY gave each other stockings! So here are our picks for the best tiny little sustainable stocking-stuffer gifts.
- Organic S’Mores Candy Bar: Just listen to this freakin’ poetry: “Layers of crispy graham cracker, buttery caramel and soft marshmallow are covered in dark chocolate and decorated with an alderwood-smoked milk chocolate flourish.” That’s … so beautiful. As if a smoked chocolate flourish wasn’t enough, this yummy treat is soy-free, fair trade, and organic. Just be sure to let your gift recipient know they’ll need to share.
- Collapsible Reusable Straw Keychain: The thing about reusable straws is that they are enormous and impractical to carry, so that when you finally do actually need one, chances are you don’t have it on you. Enter this collapsible stainless steel reusable straw, which clips onto your keys so you’ll actually bring along with you when you leave the house! Say goodbye to plastic straw guilt.
- Aluminum Spork: This baby comes with a carabiner, so you can have a spork attached to your keys or belt loop AT ALL TIMES. Plastic fork with your to-go meal? Not today, Satan! PS: Definitely read the reviews on this one because they are hilarious.
- Insulated Phone Holder: If your gift recipient frequently travels to places that are either very hot or very cold (or just has like, a really crappy phone in regular weather) this insulated phone pouch will save their battery life while protecting it from accidental submerging and dropping. Which literally happens to me on every single trip. Boy, this would have been incredibly handy when my snowmobile crashed in the Arctic tundra… *adds to wish list*
Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials
If your gift recipient is anything like us, they strive to reduce their overall footprint while they travel by bringing along their own reusable water bottle or straw. Also if they’re anything like us, they’ve already gone through about 18 of each because they keep losing them or leaving them behind at. restaurants in various exotic destinations.
What I’m trying to. say is: you can literally never have too many reusable water bottles, straws, towels, etc. That is a fact. So don’t worry about whether they already have one. There will come a time when they do not.
Or, honestly, maybe they have a crappy one and this is the way nicer version and maybe that’s just the thing they need to help keep them from leaving it behind on the airplane for the 25th time. Because I’ve lost like 84 $10 water bottles I picked up at gas stations and. I have NEVER forgotten my Hydroflask ONCE. Just sayin’.
- HydroFlask Water Bottle: Hydroflasks are WELL worth the price tag, and are one of the best eco-friendly, zero-waste promoting gifts for travel lovers! My Hydroflask water bottle is keeps water ice cold for far longer than can be explained by science, and my Hydroflask Coffee Thermos keeps coffee piping hot for many, many hours – eff off forever, Styrafoam!
- Sherpani Anti Theft Day Backpack: It’s pretty rare to find a travel bag that’s as functional as it is cute, but this adorable tote bag definitely hits the mark! Made from weatherproof and theft-deterrent recycled nylon and trimmed with vegan leather, this lightweight backpack is perfectly designed to hold everything you need while you explore all day long. It’s gorgeous AND practical. Just like me! Plus, this bag repurposes 40 plastic bottles.
- Peak Design Camera Bag: Now, this is not a great gift for a casual traveler. But this is an EXCELLENT gift for a friend who’s into photography or your favorite travel blogging family member (sup, fam?). It’s weatherproof, made from100% recycled nylon canvas and and Bluesign certified. This is a truly beautiful, highly functional, absolutely gorgeous camera bag, and I want one very, very much.
- Peak Design Tech Pouch: This little travel pouch has the most pockets I have ever seen in this amount of space. Made from recycled nylon, this is the perfect gift for either a super-organized person, or a super disorganized person (there’s always hope).
Sustainable Travel Clothing Gifts
Sustainable travel clothing falls into 2 of my favorite categories: travel stuff, and fashion. Fun fact about me: before I became a travel blogger, I spent 5 years working in corporate retail and I have a degree in fashion design & apparel merchandising. Yep, I’m a fashion nerd too.
Which is entirely irrelevant these days since, as a travel blogger, I’m only either wearing high-tech travel gear or working at home in my pajamas.
EXCEPT for in situations like RIGHT NOW when my 2 areas of expertise collide and I can nerd out about sustainable clothing that’s super functional for travel AND looks hella cute. Whee!
REI has a TON of clothing choices, and the right clothing choice tends to come down to personal taste. So I stuck to the logic behind why your mom always buys you PJs for Christmas with a few classic, always appreciated, gift-friendly items that are easy to guesstimate when it comes to sizing.
Here are the cutest and most practical eco-friendly travel clothing (& sustainable travel brands) to shop for your loved ones/yourself this holiday season:
Cuddly Recycled Fleece Jacket
One of my fave holiday gifts is a cozy fleece jacket. The soft teddy-bear fleece look is super trendy right now, which is great for people like me who definitely prioritize comfort over trendiness because this jacket manages to make it look like you care about both. Amazing!
We’ve found a few options from our fave sustainable brands made from recycled fleece.
- Cotopaxi Fleece Jacket: I love the colors on this fleece jacket, which adds a nifty design element. But what I really love about this jacket is how insanely warm and cozy it is! I brought mine on a trip with me in late fall and refused to wear anything else. It’s so comfy! Pick one up for Women or for Dudes.
- Patagonia Fleece Jacket: Retro-cool and sustainably produced, so you can throw back to an era when climate change was a problem for the distant future. Ah, those were the good old days.
- prAna Polar Escape Bomber Fleece Jacket: Made from plushy, thick recycled polyester boucle, this cozy bomber jacket is cute AF.
A hat is always a solid gift. There’s no size guessing involved, hats are cute AF, and your gift recipient will forever be protected from sun and cold thanks to your thoughtful gift,
Also, if we’re being honest, they’re typically one of the most affordable sustainable clothing gift ideas. We see you, student loan debt! What up.
- You Are On Native Land Baseball Cap: This cap made from organic cotton serves as a reminder that no matter where we are in the USA, we are on land stolen from Indigenous peoples.
- Cozy Winter Print Beanie: The perfect charming hat to wear in a cozy cabin in the snow!
- Sherpa Adventure Beanie: The pattern is inspired by a Tibetan apron called a Pandgey, his lambswool hat is handcrafted in small women’s co-ops in Kathmandu and nearby villages which enables their communities to be self sufficient and economically stable. And it makes us want to return to Nepal!
Sustainable & Cozy Hoodies
Facts: nobody has ever opened a cozy hoodie on Christmas morning and NOT immediately put it on and worn it all day. (See also: cozy PJs, cozy socks.) Hoodies are THE BEST, but they’re often not the sort of thing you splurge on for yourself (according to the 18 drawers full of stained, holey hoodies we’ve acquired over the years that we definitely still wear and really should just turn into rags).
Which is why you, gift-giver, must make that choice. Because a hoodie that is sustainable, cozy, and legit cute AF is well worth the splurge, which I realized the minute I stole Jeremy’s henley sweatshirt for the first time….
- Cozy Up Sweatshirt: This prAna sweatshirt is as cute as it is cozy. Plus, it’s made with hemp! Hemp requires almost no water and actually cleans up toxins in the soil as it grows. Also, it’s naturally heat regulating in either hot or cold weather, and naturally anti-bacterial so you can go for a whole trip without needing to wash it.
- Sasquatch Hoodie: The only thing better than this adorable tiny Sasquatch riding a bike motif is the fact that your purchase will have planted 10 actual real-life trees, and then being able to show your gift recipient exactly where those baby trees are growing!
Eco-Friendly Packable Jacket
Packable jackets are THE BEST travel jacket. Imagine fitting your entire winter jacket into a tiny ball the size of a grapefruit and stuffing it into your suitcase in case it gets cold. Entire winter carry-on packing lists have been created based on this one magical piece of travel tech!
Whether your gift recipient lives in the kind of place where you might need a warm jacket at literally any moment (Colorado, San Francisco, Montana, etc) or you just want to make sure your loved one is keeping their little ears warm (is that you, Mom??) a packable jacket is an incredibly useful gift!
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket: This packable jacket traps body heat, blocks wind, and stays warm when wet – and it’s made from 75% recycled materials. It packs down into a teeny tiny pocket when it’s not in use so you can bring it anywhere! Take a look at the women’s version and the men’s version.
- REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket: These warm and insanely lightweight goose down jackets are made from recycled nylon and filled with certified Responsible Down, which ensures that the down comes from animals that have not been subject to unnecessary harm like force-feeding or live-plucking. Down is one of the absolute warmest materials on earth, and an ethically made, real down jacket is a luxurious gift for a cold-weather adventurer! Pick one up for men or for women.
The Best Sustainable Travel Clothing Brands
If you didn’t quite see what you were looking for in our list of recommendations, take a look at the collections of some of our favorite eco-friendly travel clothing brands. I’ve given a short description of why I love and recommend each.
The OG sustainable travel brand, Patagonia is well known and loved by travel enthusiasts for making super functional travel clothing from recycled materials and having an awesome company that, much like REI, walks the talk when it comes to sustainability.
Patagonia are pioneers of sustainable materials and their clothing is Fair Trade Certified™, meaning the people who made it earned a premium for their labor.
Sustainability is the core value behind Cotopaxi. Like, literally their motto is “Gear for Good” and their tagline is “Committed To Creating Positive Social Impact Through Innovative Outdoor Gear.” Did you hear that? That was me hitting the floor because I just swooned.
prAna makes some of the coziest and cutest travel clothing around, and they use some super cool and innovative sustainable materials, like hemp.
I promised not to get too technical and sciencey, so here’s the short version: hemp requires almost no water and actually cleans up toxins in the soil as it grows. Also, it’s naturally heat regulating in either hot or cold weather, and naturally anti-bacterial so you can go for a whole trip without needing to wash it.
By the way, I don’t mean like that scratchy stuff we all made hideous necklaces out of in the 90’s. prAna’s hemp products are luxuriously soft – perfect for cozying up by a fire in a cabin somewhere. In fact, their Cozy Up line – made from hemp, recycled polyester, and compostable lyocell from eucalyptus trees – is made for just that!
United by Blue
Sustainability was the inspiration behind the United by Blue brand: the name comes riven by the belief that every living creature is united by the blue of our world’s oceans and waterways, and that it is our responsibility to protect them.
For every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups.
In addition, their products are created sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, and bison fiber.
Eco-friendly clothing company TenTree plants 10 trees for every item sold (hence the name, and also my undying love for this brand).
As a bonus, each item comes with a code you can enter on the TenTree website to see where your trees are planted! Which is sort of like when you make a donation to charity in someone’s name and then give them the receipt in a little wrapped box so they can get second-hand warm fuzzies, only you’re also giving them like, an actual gift too.
That’s not all, though: their clothing is nearly entirely made from sustainable and compostable materials, right down to the buttons on their shirts which are made from coconut shells rather than plastic.
My favorite TenTree designs are printed with trees, for maximum tree-hugginess (and like, a rugged outdoor look). If your gift recipient is a tree lover, TenTree has the perfect gifts.
Waterlust is an ethical and sustainable conservation-focused apparel company and was founded by ocean science graduate students with a goal to educate the public about ocean conservation. Waterlust didn’t actually even start out as an apparel company: they begun as a handful of Marine Biology students who wanted to inspire the world to care more about conserving our oceans. What they found was that apparel was one of the best vehicles for their ocean conservation goals – and thus, Waterlust products were born.
Also, they make an incredible pair of swim leggings that I am deeply obsessed with! They’re cozy, they’re comfy, and they eliminate the need to use reef-harming sunscreen when snorkelling. You can read my full review of my beloved swim leggings.
Each product is designed as an educational and functional science communication tool, which makes my nerdy little heart SO happy. And each design is paired with a specific research & educational organization, donating 10% of profits to help fund specific projects.
But that’s not all. In addition to using recycled materials and funding scientific research and conservation, Waterlust also has a collection of apparel called Divers in Solidarity created in partnership with the Black Girls Dive Foundation.
100% of the profits from that collection go towards the foundation, a non-profit dedicated to educating underserved youth about swimming and empowering young girls and women to explore STEM and become leaders in conservation. So while you’re shopping for leggings, please add something from the Divers in Solidarity collection to your cart, too!
Allbirds is committed to fighting climate change as a fully carbon-neutral company from the ground up. Their shoes are made from ethically grown & harvested eucalyptus pulp.
The laces are made with recycled polyester. The insoles are made from merino wool (no sheep are harmed in the making of merino wool). And they even a clothing range made from even more merino wool!
We LOVE Allbirds and have quite a collection of their shoes and clothing. You can read a full review of my favorite pair of Allbirds shoes for travel!
Sustainable footwear brand Vivaia was created to provide stylish footwear that is eco friendly and responsible. All their shoes are made with recycled materials and with a zero-waste process to create a seamless knitted design for the ultimate combination of comfort and function.
The body of the shoes are made from plastic bottles that have been dumped in the ocean, they are cleaned and recycled into a soft and flexible knitted material which is then used across their shoe range. They are constantly looking for new ways to use recycled plastic and their heeled shoes have heels made from the plastic that Lego is made from. So all those bricks we step on are now used to walk on in comfort!
Their shoes are super comfortable, lightweight and most of the designs can be thrown in the washing machine, keeping those pure white styles, white!
Founded by adorable husband and wife team Adam and Elissa, Viakix are the hiking sandal brand with heart. They are dedicated to a sustainable supply chain and support communities and organizations that drive environmental change.
Part of their process is working with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every purchase made, and they keep shoes out of landfill by donating shoes to those in need. Their shoeboxes are also 20-60% smaller than industry standard in an effort to reduce packaging.
Not only that, Viakix are so confident you will love their sandals that they offer a totally free returns policy for any reason you feel they just don’t suit.
Ready to make it rain eco-friendly gifts?? Which item on our shopping list are you most hoping somebody will buy for you? Drop us a comment below!
Oh, wait, before you go – we have one last tip for you: be sure to wrap your gifts sustainably!
We love to use old paper bags for this purpose. We cut them up, turn them inside out and decorate them (unless they’re the holiday ones from Trader Joe’s, which are actually cute enough to use on their own). You can also use re-usable fabric or newspaper (my grandmother always used the Sunday comics for her wrapping paper).
I also hoard tissue paper and other packaging materials from online purchases to use as gift wrap, and decorate them with cut-out shapes from junk mail, ribbons, or just pretty foraged tree clippings or berries. Happy gift giving!
Psst: Looking for more gift inspiration? Check out some of our other gift guides!
- 25 Gifts for Hikers Under $25
- 6 Super Practical Gifts for Coffee Snobs who Travel
- 50 Perfect Gifts for Every Type of Travel Lover (& for Yourself)
- 28 Totally Unnecessary Travel Gifts (That You’ll Low-Key Want)
Disclaimer: This post was originally created in partnership with REI and has since been updated. All opinions, recommendations, and awful jokes, are 100% our own and totally not their fault. Partnering with REI is a dream come true for us – they’re an INCREDIBLE company and we’ve been REI members for years. I even have some still-great REI gear passed down to me from my grandmother. We love them!
Our Top Travel Tips & Resources
- Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they've got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we're not fans of Airbnb's unethical track record. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com. We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers!
- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it - visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
- Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor's office or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local's perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever we're checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we're running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you're connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!
I love that passport cover in your top photo. Did you link that and I missed it?
Lia Garcia says
Its in our other gift guide! here is the link: http://tidd.ly/7a454cbd
Moon River says
I’m loving the insulated phone pouch! Having accidentally put my phone in a fridge (what can I say? I was pretty tired!) and spend so long filming turtles in Keflaonia that my phone just couldn’t take the heat anymore, I could really do with this! Also want the eco straw since I currently live abroad in a very non eco friendly country. Happy Christmas to me!
I love guides like this! I always end up adding far too many things to my Christmas list for me and then spend all the money I’d saved for everyone else’s presents! Kidding…kind of! 🙂 Also similar to your desk my living room walls are a mess or scratch maps, canvas paintings and ramdon photo frames dotted about! And I’ve just found about 10 more things I need 🙂
Practical Wanderlust says
Ahaha! Happens to me all the time. I hope this guide helped out in prioritizing every body else’s presents! Messy walls give the room character is what I tell myself 🙂