Pack Like A Pro: Sustainable Travel Tips and Tricks

Packing... You either do it days ahead or hours before.. 

And I, my friends, am the latter.. 

Maybe this post is an address-my-own-personal-procrastination-issues-in-hopes-I-might-change-my-chaoitic-last-minute-suitcase-stuffing-but-somehow-I-still-can’t-believe-I-forgot-to-pack-“x” habits…or maybe, just maybe, this travel-inefficiency diagnosis and suggested remedies resonates with you or someone you know, too. Either way, I’m not here to judge! Hoping this helps you and/or a travel companion to lessen some travel related anxieties.

Step 1. Clean the place. Make the bed. 

Getting your home tidy and clean prior to your travel not only allows you to come back to a welcoming environment upon your return, but having clothes off the floor (maybe even do a load of laundry?), dishes put away and floors swept or vacuumed starts your packing journey free of distractions. 

Limiting my distractions or side projects in the packing process helps keep me focused! How many of you can relate to cleaning your room, then getting lost down memory lane with old photos, trying on long and forgotten items, painting your nails, a dance party perhaps? Hours go by, and not much has been accomplished. I find that once I have an organized habitat, I’m less likely to get sidetracked by irrelevant tasks. Remember, the goal is to clean so you can prepare for travel! 

I typically use my bed for laying out all my clothing and travel items as I decide on what I want to bring with me, so my final task is to make my bed with fresh sheets before I take off on a journey. The thought of my future self snuggled up in my own bed after a successful trip has me doing a lil’ happy dance. 

Packing for a trip

Step 2: The Pre-Pack. Know your itinerary

Know. Your. Itinerary! Even if you plan to just go with the flow, which maybe you’re catching on that's my style 🤙🏼, having an idea of what potential types of activities you may find yourself in helps to categorize your packing list. 

  • Going to a fancy dinner? One fancy outfit. 

  • Visiting a cultural site? Bring a shawl or modest clothing.

  • Museum or theater? Double up with your fancy outfit? Bring that shawl if it’s chilly?

  • Adventure Day? 

  • Rain? Sun? Wind? Snow? Altitude? Insects? 

Sure, you’ll need everyday basics like tops, bottoms, a jacket, shoes, a variety of undergarments if that’s your thing, etc. Take stock of your essentials, plan around your activities and lay out all your options to view at once. Notice patterns of similarity? Cut out a look-alike and choose your fav. Do your pieces lend themselves to mix and match ? Perfect! Versatility is our BFF. Items that are made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen mean multiple wears in one trip, and beware the linen wrinkles no more! Check out this post on how to travel with linen.

Step 3: Packing Time. Fold it, roll it, stuff it, tuck it. Zip that baby up! (orrrr go back to Step 2)

Whether or not you’ve whittled down your items, or if you’re still debating on five pairs of shoes, godspeed on that decision, the true test comes when you try and get those items into your suitcase. The internet seems to be in debate over rolling vs folding clothes. Choose your fighter and see how rolling clothes or folding clothes goes. I personally have used both methods, and I do find I save a bit more space with the “ranger roll” technique, but I find the visual layout of the vertical folded technique useful when I’m actually living out of the suitcase. The choice is completely up to what works best for you! 

  • Pack your heavy items towards the bottom of your suitcase to save any fragile items from being crushed or from a top-heavy suitcase from falling over unexpectedly. 

  • Shove your socks, undies, small items  in your shoes that otherwise would be empty space. 

  • Toss in your own pillow case! Can be helpful if you’re staying in hostels or on the road a lot. You can also use pillow cases for dirty laundry storage throughout your trip! 

Check out this Youtube Video on 27 Travel Packing Hacks 

Neatly packed suitcase

Tips for Traveling Sustainably: 

“Fortunately, finding ways of travelling more sustainably (aka leaving only footprints) is nowadays both accessible and straightforward: it can be as simple as choosing what you pack and deciding where you will stay to more intricate, moral matters of how to behave while you’re there.” (Mahalo, The Surf Experience

All in One Bar 

No need to worry about liquid spills in your suitcase with our All In One Bar!  Gentle, yet effective, this small bar can take on the stank, grime and grit of long travel days without compensating for dull and dry hair and skin. You’ll be left smelling and feeling like a dream. Refreshed, replenished and ready for wherever your day takes you. 


Toothpaste Tabs! Check out some options for toothpaste tabs here. Or see if you have a Zero Waste store near you! You may be able to refill your own jar.

Menstrual Cup! *Personal Fav!* If your trip lands around your menstruation cycle, packing a menstrual cup saves space in your bag and also reduces waste. In my experience, this is the only option that has provided leak-proof confidence throughout the day both in and out of the water. And I mean, wearing a ‘kini out cruising waves kind of confidence. 

Last Swab! A reusable option for cotton swabs. This one takes some getting used to, at least for me.  The Last Object also has travel bundles. 


Please make the switch to Reef Safe! aka Oxybenzone- and Octinoxate-Free (to start). Embrace your inner Larry the Lobster and protect yourself and our oceans! The RollingStone’s  The Best Reef-Safe, Eco-Friendly Sunscreens

Tote Bag

Planning to buy groceries or shop local vendors? Bring your own tote bag to cut down on bags - plastic or otherwise- that just get tossed out. There are plenty of tote options that fold down into a small pouch that you can stick in a purse, fanny pack or pants pocket when you’re on the go. 

Reusable Utensils 

Grab and go food, food trucks, and in general, many restaurants across the globe still utilize single-use utensil items (merp.. we’re getting there). Bring your own utensil kit and straw to cut out the disposables! 

girl on a mountain

Now, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll probably (definitely) still be waiting until the last minute to pack my bag, but at least now I have a sense of how I should be prioritizing my packing itinerary. We won’t know until we put it in practice, so here’s to hoping that the next packing adventure goes a little smoother! 

Shoots xx

Maria - Surf Soap Staff Writer





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