Five Space-Saving, Money-Saving Packing Hacks for the Travelin’ Earth-Lovin’ Woman

Suitcase with travel stickers
Source: Photographer Stux

This post is dedicated to women who want to up their sustainable travel game. The five packing hacks plus two bonus tips will save you money and space while you keep your eyes on the prize: helping the planet thrive. Read on and please share your own tips, hints, and wisdom at the bottom.

#1 Save Money on Dynamite Activewear

First, the Dynamite Activewear

There are countless reasons why I travel with activewear, and I’ll share a couple of them through the lens of my favorite companies.

I 💜 Athleta and not just because they were once one of my clients, but because they create flattering, stylish, and comfortable clothes that fit all body types and that travel beautifully. You can save space by rolling up their clothes in a tight little burrito, jam it in your suitcase, and not worry about wrinkles. Athleta apparel wicks sweat like a dog shaking off after a bath #slightexaggeration and it air dries quickly after a wash.

Yep, Gap bought Athleta in 2008, but the company was able to maintain a lot of independence particularly its focus on sustainability. With goals to empower women, save water, minimize waste, and use sustainable materials, I give Athleta a high-five.  Learn more about Athleta’s core values here.

The folks who worked there were so remarkably kind, they sent me on my honeymoon, now 11 years ago, with enough Athleta garb to fill a suitcase. I still wear those clothes, because they last.

Some of my Athleta Faves

I am no longer affiliated with them btw.

Bettona Classic Pant 
I have such an affinity for these pants that I purchased two more—secondhand—before moving to Italy. I call them my yoga jeans because they’re buttonless and zipperless and have jean-type stitching with pockets. With a comfy, pliable fit, you can work out in them, spend the day exploring, hiking, biking, visiting museums and churches, or dress them up for a night out. They’re superfly for flying because of their stretchy comfort yumminess and handy back pockets (hint: for holding your ID in the security line).

Activewear for the traveling woman, Athleta Bettona pants save money and space packing
I’ve worn my olive-colored Bettona pants hard, and they’re still fab eleven years later.
2012 in Pacific Grove, California

Simple Black Organic Cotton Dress
This simple but versatile black dress can be worn with sneakers, river sandals, or dressy shoes. It‘s sassy on its own and hip over jeans. In this 2013 photo taken while at a market in Tzintzuntzan, Mexico, I am wearing it over the Bettona pants.

A market at Tzintzuntzán, Mexico and Kenda's wearing Athleta activewear that saves money and space packing
Open market Tzintzuntzán, Mexico (2013)

Skorts!
The two Athleta skorts shown below have survived the test of time holding up nicely and staying in style. I love skorts because I don’t have to sit like a lady. 😉

The multi-colored skort on the left is great for working out or hanging out, and a handy little inside pocket will safely keep keys or an ID. While earth tones like the olive Whatever Skort in the middle, work out brilliantly, because of their mixing and matching potential, I am drawn to color like the pink Columbia tee-shirt dress my future co-author, Prachi, gave me recently. All three items take minimal space and are made to last.

Now, the Good Part: Saving Money Buying Secondhand

But like with all high-quality clothing items, the wallet takes a beating. Fear not! This money saving hack is here to help. In part, I credit the incredible life Mr. Pepper and I have to our flexible frugality meaning we usually only buy things we need, but when the item we think we need turns out to be a want, we look for used. I proudly purchase secondhand and can easily find high-quality, organic clothes from companies with sustainable practices like Athleta, Columbia, prAna, Synergy, and PACT. While a 2ndhand purchase may only indirectly support the company, it absolutely directly supports the wallet. It also minimizes waste on earth.

My Favorite Online Secondhand Shops

My two fave online 2ndhand shops are Poshmark and REI’s Used Gear. I have no affiliation with either company, but I probably should given all the free press. Ebay works too.

Hint: Check out 2ndhand shops while traveling. It’s fuuuuun especially in affluent towns. If you’re ever in La Jolla, California, go to their Goodwill. Five stars. I’m also beaming about a very special purchase from the Ashland, Oregon, Goodwill, a stepmother-of-the-bride dress. Yup. $3.00. Full transparency: the alterations were $35.00. Still, under $40.00 for a fancy dress. C’mon that’s a bargain!

#2 Lunette Menstrual Cup

I’m getting real personal real quick here. This little doodad could change your life.

Money

Sure, it takes a little getting used to but your wallet will love it right away!  When you consider that a menstrual cup can last for 10 years (unless you lose it like I did…I know, an unfortunate find for someone else…let’s not go there) and that women go through more than 2500 pads and tampons in 10 years, this purchase is a no-brainer. For example, let’s say you only spend $5/month on tampons and pads. Over the course of 10 years, you will have spent $600. In reality, it’s probably more than twice that amount or $1200-$1500.

Health

If you’re using nonorganic tampons, you are putting pesticides in your most absorbent lady parts, because cotton is a heavily sprayed crop. Feminine hygiene companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their products, which in addition to pesticides, contain all kinds of toxins including chlorine bleach. Learn more about the toxins in feminine hygiene products here. If you check out video #1 from that link, you’ll get to watch a lady set pads on fire. Fun stuff.

Waste

My guess is if you’re reading this blog, you care about the amount of waste produced on earth. Here’s why your concern is valid: In the US, alone, 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons pollute landfills annually. Products used for menstruation are a major pollutant. It’s kind of a sad irony that this bodily function so necessary for creating life has become a contributing factor to harming life. While the environmental impact is not as dire as disposable diapers that add 3.5 million tons to landfills each year in the US, alone, it’s still an atrocious assault on the earth. You can learn a lot more about feminine hygiene waste here.

For less than $30.00 you get a menstrual cup that in no time will make your life a lot easier and you will save plenty of extra cash to shop at Poshmark or to save for your next trip or to save for your life of freedom on the road.

#3 Reusable Cotton Pads

Organic reusable cotton pads are handy travel buddies particularly if you don’t want to pack boxes of sanitary supplies or spend time shopping while on holiday. For packing, these pads take minimal space, are easily washed, and will save you some money every monthly.  I was going to invent some kind of cheeky phrase about saving dough while you slough. Yeah, super inappropriate and those two words don’t rhyme.

#4 Reusable Makeup Remover Pads

I rarely wear makeup but occasionally I slap on some mascara, and one of my favorite sunscreens, Andalou Naturals Color+Correct is tinted.  This necessitates my needing to remove stuff from my face. These fabulous bamboo pads get the job done over and over and over again.  They come with a nifty little bag you can throw in the washer. If you’re trying to save space in your suitcase, just pack a couple and handwash after use.  See soap suggestion below.

#5 Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Liquid Soap

I travel everywhere with Dr. Bronner. I have a large bottle of soap at home and fill a small travel bottle for trips. While traveling, for example, I use the soap to wash my: hands, body, clothes, dishes, fruits, some veggies (apple cider vinegar is better), and sometimes hair if I don’t feel like packing shampoo. Some folks wash their dogs and carpets with it! I prefer the almond-scented version but it does sting my eyes a bit. If you’re heading to a tropical place with mosquitoes, washing with the peppermint scent could help deter those pesky winged bloodsuckers.

Dr. Bronner’s soap is organic, fair trade and biodegradable. There’s no synthetic nothin’!  The company supports farmers who practice regenerative organic agriculture, and the plastic bottle is 100% post-consumer recycled. Despite its watery consistency, Dr. Bronner’s is quite concentrated, thus a little goes a long way. Additionally, many health food stores sell it in bulk as well, so you only buy one big bottle and refill. Voila. $money$ saved, space saved, it’s healthy for you, and there are fewer pieces of plastic in the landfill. Win-win-winnety win.

Bonus Tip 1: Reusable Water Purifier Bottle

Water is life, right? Ya gotta have it, but what about those times when you travel to places where the water is unsafe to drink or when you’re deep in a jungle somewhere or maybe you simply want to stop using single-use bottles because #bestreason. The Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier is your solution to safe and tasty water that will not harm the earth. You can use it with any freshwater source. Remember when Reese Witherspoon in the movie, Wild, drank from a nasty, ole’ brown puddle of water? THIS is the kind (not necessarily the same brand) of bottle she used for that.

Learn more here about how plastic bottles aren’t really getting recycled and how you may be drinking microplastics.

I have no affiliation with any of the above organizations except for Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases without any costs incurred to you. Thank you for supporting my blog through Amazon purchases. Read the policy here.

Bonus Tip 2:Offset Your Flight Carbon Footprint

According to a recent Guardian article, there are 56 countries where the average person creates fewer carbon emissions than what is created with one flight from London to New York. The top 10 largest emitter countries account for 67.6% of the world’s total, and if international flights were a country, they would be #10.

If you are eager to be a part of the climate solution yet still want to travel, you can offset your flying carbon footprint. Here, the Points Guy lists the various airlines and their carbon offset programs. If your airlines doesn’t have an offset program, here is an EPA calculator for figuring out your flight’s carbon footprint and also a list of certified organizations that list their various projects so you can choose which works best for you.

What are Your Space-Saving, Money-Saving Packing Hacks?
Share your tips, hints, and wisdom in the comments below!
Thanks for reading. 🌍💜🦋🐝🐶

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