The key to traveling green is consuming less. But when you’re packing for your next trip, there are some things you should buy new – either because they’re hard to find used (safe water bottles) or you wouldn’t want to buy them used (underwear). In the end the investment will pay off.
6 Pieces of Travel Gear You Should Buy New
If you’ve ever pulled a damp, musty towel out of your pack after a long day of travel, you understand the value of having a quick-dry towel. Plus, they’re uber-absorbent and compact. Elizabeth and I have traveled with our Aquis towels and, I have to say, they are life-changing. Far better than the giant cotton monstrosities we traveled with before. We use the hair towel variety, which are quite small but do the trick.
If you don’t already have one I’d recommend considering it before a long trip. One drawback: I have yet to find a microfiber towel that’s organic (or even made of a natural material).
Walking Shoes or Boots
The last thing you want when you’re hiking 5 miles a day with a 20 pound pack is uncomfortable shoes. Your feet will be sore enough with even the best boots. This is especially important for longer trips, or trips where you’ll do a lot of strenuous hiking. Comfortable boots that fit well are well worth the initial investment. Find out which boots are best for you with the hiking boots buying guide.
Side note: Most water-proof hiking shoes are made with Gore-Tex, which is bad for your health and the environment. But soaked socks are miserable, so it might be worth it to you to have dry feet. In her post on the Gore-Tex dilemma, Elizabeth hashes this out a bit more.
A sturdy, reusable water bottle is a travel essential. Unfortunately, the water bottles many of us have relied on for years are made with bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting chemical. Which means the hard plastic bottles you have lying around your house or you find at thrift stores and garage sales probably contain BPA. Even some stainless steel bottles (like Sigg) may contain BPA. The good news is, there are alternatives. I prefer Klean Kanteen because I try to avoid plastics when possible – why risk it? But if you must use plastic, try out the new BPA-free bottles like CamelBak’s Better Bottle or the Nalgene Choice.
I haven’t tried out quick-dry underwear myself, but many travelers swear by them. Elizabeth’s a fan of Ex-Officio underwear, as she mentioned yesterday. And they definitely make sense in terms of packing less, doing less laundry, and having underwear that dry overnight. And lighter luggage means less of an environmental impact.
Bonus Tip for the Women Out There: Diva Cup
I wasn’t convinced at first. When I saw the Diva Cup at Expo East, I laughed – were there really enough women willing to put that up there to create a demand for the product? But then I did my research and read reviews like Crunchy Chicken’s (read the comments, too) and I was convinced. I’m now a believer in this silicone “menstrual solution.” And why not? It’s indefinitely reusable, comfortable, and a low one-time investment, and doesn’t create any waste.
Want to try it out? The cheapest place I found the Diva Cup was South Coast Shopping.
For more smart travel shopping tips, check out The Ultimate Guide to Thriftstore Shopping.