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11 Sustainable travel gift ideas minimalists will love

Hands hold a cloth-wrapped gift over a white table. The box has a sprig of holly and a small evergreen branch wrapped in it. The person is wearing a white sweater.

The holiday season is upon us. As inboxes are inundated with ads for “Black Friday” deals, the latest and greatest in technology, and all of the “must-haves” in gadgets and clothing, many folks are left with a bitter taste in their mouths. As more information is shared about the growing pollution caused by humans, consumers are shifting their demand to less-harmful products— To sustainable products.

In fact, recent studies show that 60% of consumers globally consider sustainability as an important criterion for their purchases. Heck yes! We’re here for that.

And more people are opting for fewer material purchases altogether. So sustainability and minimalism go hand-in-hand, like peas and carrots. Because living a life with less stuff clears the way for truly valuable things. We’re here for that, too.

So what if you’re the type of person who can’t let the season go by without your loved ones having a little something to open during the holidays? What if your love language is giving gifts!? What do you get the loved one on your list whose values are sustainability and minimalism?

Shopping for the perfect sustainable gift is hard. And for someone living a minimalist lifestyle, less is more, so that makes gift options even more difficult.

But we’ve wrangled together a list of practical and sustainable travel gifts your list will love and a couple of tips to consider when selecting gifts.

What makes a gift sustainable?

  • It’s an essential item

  • It is made with non-toxic materials that nature can easily digest

  • It is plastic-free (see above)

  • It’s ethically made/sourced

  • It’s durably crafted

What makes a good gift for a minimalist?

  • It’s compact

  • It serves multiple purposes

  • It makes life simpler and easier

  • It minimizes distractions— so you can focus on the things that truly matter.

Sustainable gift ideas for Minimalist travelers:

1. Reusables

A set of bamboo cutlery, 4 stainless steel straws, and reusable straw cleaners are neatly laid on a brown cotton sheet. There is a stainless steel bottle laid above the cutlery with the cap off.

A big part of traveling minimalist and zero-waste is having the option to pack food, refill your water and coffee or tea, and take your leftovers from restaurants in a reusable container:

  • Water bottles & Coffee mugs

  • Cutlery set

  • Travel food tins

  • Steel/bamboo straws

These all make great stocking stuffers and Zero-waste companies such as Well Earth Goods have great travel kit selections. And for staying hydrated on the go Lifestraw makes great filtered water bottles in stainless steel and straw filters for those who already own a good reusable water bottle.

2. Packing Cubes

A black packing cube with 3 rolled white towels inside. A set of hands with teal nail polish appear to be adding more clothing items into the packing cube.

Keep it together! Packing cubes are a great way for the one-bag minimalist traveler who likes to keep super organized wherever they roam. Bottoms in one cube, your tops in another, undergarments in the last and you’ve got your travel-perfect capsule wardrobe. Here are some of our favorites, made from post-consumer recycled plastics and meet bluesign criteria for sustainability:

3. Shampoo bars and soaps

Two bars of soap stacked on a white sheet. A bamboo tooth brush is propped on top of them. In the background is a pink dish with more soaps and a sprig of small white flowers

Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars make great holiday gifts (stocking stuffers, if your family hangs stockings). They are effective, smell delightful, and come in environmentally-friendly packaging. The best part about these bad boys? You don’t have to remove liquids from your bags for TSA at the airport. There are so many options for shampoo/conditioner, and soap bars out there that clean well and leave your hair and body smelling great. Snag a sampler set for your traveler from here or here and let them decide their favorite.

4. Eco-friendly sunscreens

A woman in with brown hear wearing a straw hat in front of a yellow background. On her shoulder is a sun drawn in sunscreen lotion.

Sunscreen as a present? Help them protect their skin and the environment with eco-friendly sunblock. Things to look out for eco-friendliness are ensuring that the sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen like non-nano zinc oxide that sits on top of the skin and physically blocks the sun’s UV rays. This not only protects your loved one’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but it also protects the environment should you want to take a swim.

Another thing to ensure is that the packaging for the sunscreen is made from sustainable materials, such as tin.

My favorites? Raw Love and Raw Elements. Both are effective, solid, mineral sunscreens (TSA Approved for carry-on), come in sustainable plastic-free containers, a little goes a long way, AND don’t take up a lot of space in your suitcase.

5. Zero-Waste Laundry detergent

A hand holding a white sheet. Behind it is a brown box resting on a teal towel. The box reads "Laundry Detergent Sheets. 60 loads."

If your minimalist is backpacking for more than a few days at a time, chances are they’ll need to wash their clothes. A useful gift is some jug-free laundry detergent, like detergent sheets or nuts, that takes up minimal space in their backpack or suitcase. These are not only effective at cleaning your clothes, but they also have sustainable packaging, so there aren’t any non-biodegradable single-use materials.

6. Solar-powered battery pack

A canvas backpack on the ground in the woods. A solar powered battery bank charging a cell phone rests on the backpack in the sunlight.

When you’re on the go in foreign places, having a charge on your cell phone makes a huge difference in your ease of travel, communication, direction, and overall comfortability. And there may be times when you’ve run out. A solar power battery pack is a lightweight, practical piece of equipment to keep a charge on it until you get to your next location and power outlet. This one has a built-in flashlight, and can be solar charged or topped up with a USB cord— great for emergencies or hiking adventures (like, to Machu Picchu on CTC’s Peru Trip perhaps)

7. Travel Gift Cards

a laptop key board with a red gift card with green ribbon. The card has the words "eGift Card" in white letters

Give the gift of travel by taking off some of the financial expenses associated with travel. (Reloadable) gift cards, or better yet, e-gift cards are an awesome way to contribute to your loved one’s adventure plans without contributing to waste (ick, plastic) or the lugging around of clunky material things. If you must give a physical gift card, ensure that it is reloadable. That way your recipient can put some more money on the card and pay that gift forward to someone else as well.

8. Kindle/e-Reader

A Kindle e-reader with the book title "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl on the screen. It is on a wood tray table with a yellow tea kettle, glass tea mug, and hibiscus tea packet. The tray is on a red, blue, and gold quilt

An e-Reader such as a Kindle is a great gift for the minimalist who is also an avid reader. No need to pack a ton of books to keep your traveler entertained during the downtime in between adventures. You can download an entire library of books onto the e-reader and not take up any more space in your pack than a small notepad.

9. Carbon Offsets

A hand holding a small globe of the earth with a, green outdoor background and tree leaf in the foreground.

Give a climate-positive gift this holiday season. Gift certificates for carbon offsets are an excellent gift for the one in your life who is looking to minimize their carbon footprint and tread a little lighter during their travels.

Carbon offsets include planting trees, investing funds towards deforestation efforts, carbon sinks,

Terrapass: Offers gift certificate options of 1-month, 6-months, or 1-year of carbon offsets. You can write your message on a downloadable e-card and send it straight to your eco-conscious loved one’s email.

Tentree: Tentree is another super fun gift for carbon offsetting by planting trees. You can select different types of offsets appropriate to your loved ones (like offset a ‘hipster,’ lol) or type-specific tree planting such as mangroves or subtropical forests.

10. Language Learning subscriptions

A laptop computer with the words "language: click here for more information" on the screen. It seems to be on an outdoor porch with notebook and pen on the table

There are so many reasons giving a language learning subscription is an awesome gift for the minimalist traveler! It helps them prepare for their travel abroad AND it takes up no extra (physical) space in their life. If you need more reasons why learning the language is a great idea for travel, check out this blog. There you will also find some of the language learning apps and determine which one would be suitable for your loved one’s lifestyle.

11. A Personal Travel Experience

a man pulling a roller-suitcase with his arm around a woman. They seem to be walking down a city street

The very best gift to give to a minimalist is one that isn’t material in nature at all. It’s the ones that inspire connection and the creation of memories. So, instead of giving your loved one a thing, give them an experience instead. And since the way we travel matters, a Conscious Travel Collective trip— one that puts the planet and people first—is an excellent gift to give. Check them out here.

The most valuable gift

friends hugging after a holiday meal together

Please note, you do not need to buy a thing to show some love. While it’s always sweet and exciting to give and receive gifts from your adored persons, if your shared values are people and the planet, the most valuable gift you can give this season is your loving presence.

The memories created from precious time with loved ones will be cherished more than any item unwrapped, promise.

About Conscious Travel Collective ~

Hey there! I’m Tara, the founder of Conscious Travel Collective. After years in the travel industry and loving the opportunity to connect travelers with the world, I was struggling. Troubled by an important element I felt was sadly lacking. This element for me is what makes travel so special - real connection! Connection with places, through the people that live there. So, with much intention, I started Conscious Travel Collective to offer folks travel that connects, with luxury experiences at a reasonable price, with sustainability and ethical travel practices leading the way. Thanks for stopping by! For more on how we design trips for small groups, head over to our homepage.

The author of this blog is the oh-so-talented, Shelagh Hogan.

You can find out more about her work on our team page

If you’re looking for ways to travel with more intention, subscribe to our mailing list, and follow Conscious Travel Collective on IG or FB. We craft private small group travel for those looking for meaningful connection to places and people, so when you are ready to experience for yourself, we are here help make it happen!


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