Category Archives: Travel Gear

Advice on what to buy for travel

Best Travel Gear | 40 Items for your Travel Bag (+ the bag!)

Colca Canyon Peru Hike Day Bag

Looking for the best travel gear to invest in for your next big adventure? Whether you are planning the trip of a lifetime further afield or a staycation close to home, a hiking holiday or a city break, our prefered travel equipment guide has got you covered

We’ve personally tried and tested the following travel items so you can confidently purchase knowing that your money is being well spent.

Remember, some travel gear is worth the investment. The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ does apply to some of the following.

However, since we are all about affordable travel, we have indicated where you can save and where you should invest.

Gemma back to camera with arms in air with Stac Pollaidh mountain backdrop Scotland

Best Travel Luggage

Preferred Travel Rucksacks

Craig and I (Gemma) have been travelling around Southeast Asia, the Americas, and Europe since 2013.

Our weapon of choice for travel backpack was the Vango Freedom 80-litre which comes with a handy detachable 20-litre daypack.

Would I buy it again? No. Since the zips were an issue.

What would I choose instead?

The Apple of backpacks, Osprey US / UK.

The reason? You just can’t beat the quality of the Osprey backpack.

I compare the ‘king of bags’ to other popular models on the market here.

Alternatively, if you prefer a bag with wheels, read this review.

Vango Rucksack at airport

Waterproof Bag Cover

This sacred item features in our packing lists and gift guides!

It is lightweight, attaches to your bag and saves your electronics from being ruined and your day pack from going soggy.

My heart stopped in Vietnam after a downpour in Sapa.

My camera had stopped working.

Cue the need for this Osprey waterproof bag US / UK.

Easy to use, you just pull it around the bag, clip it in the middle underneath the straps and drawstring the top.

Osprey Bag Cover

Weekend Bags

Love, love, love the Eagle Creek carry-on US / UK

It’s light, nice looking and very durable.

I use the retractable handle to wheel it along and the pull to carry it like a bag.

Eagle Creek Expanse

Craig uses the 40l CabinZero backpack which is simple in design so don’t expect any back support.

The zip opens all the way around the bag like a clam revealing a huge space with one internal zipped section inside.

There are two pull handles, one at the top and the other to the side.

Cabin Zero Bag

Fashion Day Pack

I really adore the style, size and handles on my Kanken.

My fave thing about the bag is that it has straps to use a backpack and handles at the top for lifting like a handbag.

There’s a nifty section that sits flat against your back and fits a laptop.

Outlander Falkland Two Scots Abroad

Craig uses the Osprey Talon 22L US / UK hiking backpack which has a breathable back and clips for back support.

There is a large back opening, a small zipped area at the top and a compartment at the waist for small items.

Craig on Victoria Street with Osprey Bag

Additional Baggage

I do have three more travel luggage tips for you and they are all inexpensive.

Firstly, buy a tote canvas bag.

Many European countries now adopt the 5p plastic bag policy, it’s also better for the environment and we all owe the world a high five for the flights, 14-hour bus trips and taxi rides.

The second tip is to pack a light drawstring bag, you often get these free at festivals and conferences.

These bags are great for carrying wet swimwear or packed lunches as you can attach the strings to the clips on your day bag.

Finally, the mighty bumbag or fanny pack as you North Americans like to call it, causing us Brits mass hysteria, look it up.

I like to think of myself as a stylish traveller, many would say the bumbag lets me down but it’s really useful for festivals, skiing and hikes.

Big enough for your phone, small purse and lip salve. I can fit my new camera in mine!

Bumbag Fanny Pack Ski Gear

Anti-Theft Travel Bags

During our career break where we travelled around the Americas and Europe for 17 months, we avoided any nasty security situations with a travel safe bag called Pacsafe backpack and bag protector US / UK.

It does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a net that keeps your belongings safe.

For it to work effectively, place your passport, money, electronics into a zipped day bag, put the bag into the net and pull it closed.

Next wrap the cable around a non-moving object (bed frame, pipe, or similar) and clip shut.

Finally secure a padlock through the clip, throwing a towel or unassuming jacket over the bag.

This is especially important for travellers who stay in multi-dorm hostels.

Sure, if someone wants to steal your possessions they could cut the wire but opportunists don’t tend to be so well equipped when they live out of a rucksack.

Initially, I purchased the Pacsafe Travelsafe 12L (a large black bag with the net embedded inside) but returned it as it was heavy.

PacSafe Net Travel Safety

Essential Travel Electronics

Best Lightweight Cameras For Travel

This year I wanted to up my visuals game and after much research splurged on the Sony A600 but soon changed to the Canon M50 US / UK.

I switched because Canon feels sturdier and I am prone to breaking things.

Another appeal was that the Canon has a swivel screen which is ideal for filming.

I always carry an additional battery, fully charged and additional SD cards.

I don’t override cards, storing them in case I lose versions on the computer/hard drive. 

I have invested in camera bags in the past but they tend to be bulky so now go for a make-up bag to store it in, professionals will be rolling their eyes.

Victoria-Street-Gemma-Yellow-Coat-Rain-Camera-Edinburgh_

If you buy anything before you travel make it an external hard drive like my Transcend Storejet 2TB US / UK.

I am the clumsiest person you don’t know and it’s still knocking about.

This is where I store all of my images, videos and files and I have a lot.

Since Craig is working with video we went for the speedy Sandisk SSD US / UK.

Pricier but uploads fast and is very durable.

If doing a longer trip, load it up with films for watching when you hit your accommodation.

You will want some downtime.

I used a second cheaper hard drive for this as I didn’t want potentially dodgy files killing my images.

I also recommend uploading your images to another server.

I use Google Drive and purchased the extra storage option.

I edit my images with Adobe Lightroom and have recently purchased the Adobe package which includes Photoshop and Premiere Pro (video).

We now use a Manfrotto tripod US / UK teamed up with the Canon app for couple shots.

Palau Nacional Barcelona Craig Gemma_

GoPro

Ok, the fun part!

We have a new addition to the electronic family, the GoPro Hero for adventure trips.

We used to travel with a Toshiba action camera because it was cheaper but the difference in physical quality and visual quality is night and day.

The Hero is easy to use, has three frames (linear, wide and very wide), can take images, film and comes with an app (Quik).

Personally, I prefer to edit with iMovie or Premiere Pro.

We used the wide lens option to capture our silhouettes at Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland.

Couple at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Iceland sunset

Mobile Phones

After years of avoiding Apple, I am now a fully fledged Apple user.

I use the iPhone for photography when I can’t be bothered carrying my camera, Lightroom for quick edits, the Notes app for jotting down ideas and lists and Spotify for music.

However, I do prefer Google Maps for maps.

When on the road, I work on a MacBook Air because it’s lightweight.

I use the Transcend hard drive to backup files since the storage is limited.

Here’s one of the first pictures of me, Gemma, blogging back in 2015 in Peru!

Blogging is Making Me Ill Travel

Best Travel Accessories List

Here are the generic must-have travel accessories we pack.

Skross universal plug US / UK with two USB sockets so you can charge your phone and other devices or be nice and share with others.

Anker mobile phone banks US / UK. Charge them up and pop them in your day bag.

Remember the cables for your phones/devices so when the battery is low you can stay connected.

Don’t forget your bank card reader.

Eye masks for obvious reasons and flags for not.

Flags or large ponchos/throws make great fort building material in hostel dorms so you can feel like you have private space in a room full of 14.

Hydration tablets (US / UK) were a tip-off by a British doctor we met in Cuba.

That rum tastes good but does not feel good the next day.

Hydration tablets are dropped into a pint of water, they fizz up and once consumed, lift that hazy head.

For mosquito repellent we use DEET-free Avon So Soft US / UK.

Why?

Because DEET is aggressive and burns plastic.

If using, keep it away from your sunglasses!

We lugged around the Lifesystems mosquito net for a year and never used it once.

Most of your accommodation will have nets if needed in South and Central America.

First aid kits are essential, get the next level up which includes needles just in case you need blood taken in a foreign country.

You cannot assume they have the same standards as home.

Stay stomach safe with a filtering bottle while doing your bit for the environment check out Water To Go (quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off).

Avoid items that spill/explode like nail varnish, opt for solid shampoos, conditioners and soaps.

Exploded nail varnish in a tub

They also take up less room. I love Lush’s ranges. You can read my full packing list for ladies here.

Do not travel without insurance and make sure you check that the policy covers high altitude hikes if going to Machu Picchu and winter sports if skiing or boarding.

We use True Traveller because it ticked those boxes, the customer service was great and it was not as expensive as its competitors.

I claimed in Vancouver when I was diagnosed with ear crystals (dizziness) and attended physiotherapy twice.

True Traveller covered the GP visit as well as the physio (minus the excess).

World Nomads is a very popular multi-destination travel insurance too. They serve worldwide customers while True Traveller is only for Europeans.

Travel Gear For Men

Craig has been known to hike in skinny jeans – he really is the epitome of ‘no gear but some idea’.

He tends to panic when we get to the location as he’s packed various versions of the wrong thing so don’t be Craig!

There are a few things he does get right though and a travel vest is one.

If you told Craig a few years ago he’d be rocking a vest he would have said ‘no chance’.

Now he works the Bluffworks quilted vest which has so many discreet pockets it doubles up as a day bag.

A pickpocket was unsuccessful in Barcelona thanks to these secret pockets!

Here’s our travel vest comparison guide.

Craig wearing Bluffworks vest

For hikes and road trips, Craig’s outside gear of choice is the Mountain Equipment waterproof coat US / UK.

An expert told us that the Mountain Equipment is so waterproof it’s splashproof so I bought two.

Yes, we have his and hers waterproof coats. Gross.

Planning on hitting the road? Here’s our road trip packing list.

Craig and Gemma Mount Asahidake Japan_

Mens Travel Shoes

For travel shoes, Craig likes to balance looking good with being practical.

He lives in his leather Scarpa hiking boots which he says feel like slippers. Read our full review here.

Scarpa leather hiking boot._

Depending on the weather, he usually packs a pair of plimsoll trainers/sneakers and flip-flops too.

Obviously, sunglasses are a travel must for Craig, got to complete that look.

Craig Salt Flats Bolivia_

Travel Gear For Women

I, on the other hand, am all gear and no idea.

During big trips, I never travel without my Marmot Precip waterproof coat US / UK.

It’s thin, looks trendy enough and folds away into its own pocket.

If I know that the weather is going to be awful, like our trip to Iceland, I’ll pack my Equipment Rupal US / UK.

It’s one of the top five travel items I’ve invested in. Nothing is getting through this bad boy.

Craig decided to get one too after the experience in the image below!

Rain Iceland hike. Mountain Equipment jacket, hat. Gemma and Craig._

For colder trips, I also carry a Rab down jacket USA / UK which just replaced an old North Face version which I had for over a decade and it was second hand.

Well worth investing in.

Louvre Gemma_

I hike in either hiking trousers or gym pants with these waterproofs over the top USA / UK.

A new addition to my packing list is the tartan cape.

I’m a cold person (externally) so I like a cape as it can be used as a cover as well as a coat. Makes for great pictures too.

Gemma Eiffel Tower tartan cape

I always pack a little black dress.

For summer, I wear it with sandals and a cardigan at night.

In colder months, I team it up with a t-shirt or polo neck.

It’s ideal for hiding a bloated travel belly and it is easy to remove a bikini underneath it while retaining your dignity!

I share lots of hacks like this in my female packing list.

Craig and Gemma Belfast Pub

I tend to leave jeans at home and back black yoga pants instead as they are comfy for travelling in and double up as disco pants.

Uyuni Salt Flats Salt Mountain Bolivia_

Ladies Travel Shoes

For travel shoes, I hike in Salomon Ellipse trek trainers US / UK to save space and weight or Salomon Quest walking boot US / UK for big hikes.

I tape up my ankles using Leukotape US / UK which was a winning tip from a Canadian hiker in Nicaragua.

Salomon Quest Ladies Boots

I like Havianas flip-flops US / UK because they last and are great for communal showers, post-hike evenings and sunny beach days.

Black trainers are recommended as they go with everything and still look smart.

Dunrobin Castle Craig Gemma Fountain gardens North Coast 500 Scotland_

Travel Gift Guides

The perfect travel gift ideas for every budget and style of travel.

Travel gifts under $20 for all styles of travel image with palm trees.
Zero waste gifts for all the family images of travel water bottle, Nessie tea strainer, bamboo cutlery, metal straw

Destination Gift Guides

If they love London or pine for Paris they’ll love the following gift guides.

Paris gift guide - perfect gifts for Paris obsessed (text) with image of champagne flutes cheersing in Paris
London gift guide - gifts for her, him and the home (text) and image of London Tower and UK flag

Scotland Gift Guides

The perfect Scotland themed gifts for her, him and the home.

Scotland gifts and Scotland inspired gifts - image of Harry Potter train, John o' Groat colorful houses, Edinburgh Castle, and a deer.
Harris Tweed Gifts - image of tweed chair, suit, lamp and bag

7 Top Travel Vests with Pockets for Men + Women [New]

Travel Vests with Pockets Review

Gone are the days where thieves could spot the tourist in a safari-looking travel vest! In fact, today’s stylish travel vests are actually anti-theft products. At first glance, they look like attractive windbreakers but underneath the material, you can pack away passports, tickets and cards protected by RFID technology. Ideal travel gear for minimalist travel. Here’s an up-to-date guide to the best travel vests with pockets for both men and women. Keep reading for a comparison table, factors to consider before buying and six of the best lightweight travel vests on the market.

Best Travel Vests with Pockets Comparison Table


Choosing Your Travel Vest

Consider the following factors before buying your travel vest/gilet/windbreak. Also, 5/6 recommended products are available on Amazon Prime. Amazon offers a free 30-day trial for two-day delivery free of charge. You can cancel Prime once you’ve done your shopping (or continue to gain access to Prime Video and Music). Click here to read more. UK readers can sign up here.


Materials

You need your vest to be comfortable and breathable in warmer climates. Sweat is not sexy! It also helps if the vest can be washed in sinks and dries without wrinkles.

You can expect the top brands to offer a travel vest with hidden pockets option so you can store your personal belongings close to you. Some even swap the day bag for a travel vest.

Zips tend to be prefered over velcro fastenings for extra protection and coverage although velcro allows faster removal.

Lightweight

Go for a lightweight material which makes packing the travel vest in your day bag or carry-on luggage easier. Airlines are becoming stricter on how much you can actually pack in your cabin bag, a lighter material will mean you can pack more. Even better, wear the travel vest in transit and have your personal belongings close to your heart, literally!

Waterproof

Keep your back and chest dry with a waterproof travel vest. Trying to dry travel gear on small hotel radiators is no fun! A fast-drying travel vest will solve this.

RFID Protected

It’s not just pickpockets that are the issue in travel crime, today more established thieves can swipe our data from our bank cards and the like. RFID travel products prevent these scams from happening. 

Inside Pockets

The best thing about using a vest during your travels is the ability to hide your personal items. A pickpocket in Barcelona attempted to get into Craig’s front pocket but luckily he was wearing a vest and his wallet and phone were hidden inside. We had been warned by our Facebook community about the high number of pickpocketing incidents in the city so we were pretty pleased to get away from that situation with a positive story to share!

Aesthetics

You don’t want to look like you are going fishing when really we are gallery visiting in Florence! The way the travel vest looks is very important. Take into consideration the style, the colour and most importantly, the fit.

Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona Craig Bluffworks Pockets


Travel Vest Review

1. SCOTTeVEST Travel Vest

  • Weight: Featherweight

There is no denying that SCOTTeVEST is the Mercedes of the travel vest market and with good reason too.

The main material is treated Teflon making it breathable but rain repellent.

There are 16 pockets on the SCOTTeVEST Featherweight for both men and women vests.

You can tuck away phones (inside pocket), wallets, keys (one pocket has an extendable holder), sunglasses (front pocket), small cameras and even tablets (large inside pocket). Ideal for moving through airport customs efficiently.

Interestingly, women’s multi-pocket vests tend to have fewer pockets, SCOTTeVest has not discriminated against the ladies!

You can listen to music or speak on your phone via earphones discreetly with SCOTTeVEST’s patented Personal Area Network (PAN). PAN allows you to hide cables within the jacket.

This is especially handy if you need to charge a phone via a battery pack (we recommend Anker battery charger US / UK which stores two charges worth for energy).

RFID protected pockets are especially for credit cards, blocking 13.56 MHz frequencies.

SCOTTeVEST has been dominating the market since the Millennium and one of the features that fans enjoy most is the weight management system which distributes the balance of weight across the garment. In saying that, you don’t want to overload the vest or you will be weighed down while sightseeing.

With just the necessities required for trekking, SCOTTeVests would make great hiking vests with pockets.

  • Pros: 16 pockets, RFID technology.
  • Cons: Avoid packing too much for walking.

» » Buy Men / Women « «

Women Travel Vest with Pockets


2. ExOfficio Sol Cool FlyQ

  • Weight: 12.6oz

A celebrated cheaper alternative to the SCOTTeVEST is the ExOfficio’s FlyQ travel vest for both men US / UK  and women US / UK. The material is 100% nylon with Teflon Shield+ technology.

This vest is aimed at warmer climate travels with its sun-repelling UPF 30 fabric and its heat-releasing/cooling Sol Cool technology. 

There are eight interior pockets on the FlyQ and two exterior pockets for all the usual travel mods and cons.

The women’s Sol Cool FlyQ looks slightly different with a waistband drawcord if you want to make the vest look more flattering.

It offers the same qualities as above. 

  • Pros: Economical, sun vacation-specific.
  • Cons: Women’s version is long.

» Buy Men US / UK  «

 » Buy Women US / UK « 


3. Bluffworks Horizon Quilted Vest (Men)

  • Weight: 15.6 oz

Woohoo! Our beloved Bluffworks have branched out from just travel suits (read our travel pants review here).

Their newest travel product is the Horizon Quilted Vest. This is the best looking travel vest in our review, best suited to those who like to look sharp during their travels. 

Travel vests with inside pockets don’t have to look stuffy, the navy and olive green quilted Bluff vests really are aesthetically pleasing. 

Craig likes to match his Dark Saphire, which is a deep blue, vest with a dark green plaid shirt.

This vest is his go-to transit coat.

The main shell material is quick-drying polyester making it machine washable.

Inside the padding, Bluffworks have used PrimaLoft® synthetic insulation which is made up of 60% post-consumer recycled material. This is a wrinkle-free travel vest.

There are seven hidden pockets on this lightweight travel vest, the largest pocket fits a large phone.  

Guess what? We had an attempted pickpocket situation in Barcelona.

As we entered the metro, a man stood up quickly just before the doors were about to close and brushed past Craig.

A local behind Craig nudged him to tell him that the pickpocket tried to get into his pocket.

God bless the travel vest!

Craig had his phone and wallet tucked into the INSIDE pockets so there was nothing for the pickpocket to get.

The vest closes via a zipper and has an overlap with discreet matt buttons.

The collar stands up to give it that suave look. Can be worn on top of shirts or under a suit jacket like the ridiculously stylish yet practical for travel, Gramercy Blazer.

This really is an all year round winner but also a stylish summer vest with pockets.

  • Pros: Stylish, quilted, lightweight.
  • Cons: Men only. 

4. AyeGear V26 (unisex)

One of the newest travel vests is the unisex AyeGear V26 US / UK and due to its sensitive touch pockets, it is the most up to date technology-wise.

The material is machine washable and breathable but a little on the warm side in hot climates.

There are 26 pockets in total, internally and externally. One of the internal pockets is big enough for a phone and is part sensitive touch which means you can change music, send quick messages or make calls without removing the phone. Ideal for hiking trips.

The AyeGear V26 has vertical external top pockets in comparison to the SCOTTeVEST which has horizontal (items can fall out easier when unzipped with horizontal).

There is a card organiser and coin pocket inside the vest as well as a retractable cord for keys.

To the rear of the vest, there is a pocket that can fit a 15” laptop, although this would not be comfortable during your travels.

Technically you can leave your garments in the coat during airport security but of late new rules state that all electronics tablet or larger must be placed in separate boxes.

  • Pros: It can pack a lot, touchscreen pocket.
  • Cons: Unisex fitting not always ideal.

» » Buy AyeGear V26 US / UK « «


5. North Face

North Face is a brand used for weekend gear as well as travel.

Always slick, the Thermoball Vest (man US / UK and woman US / UK) is good looking and stylish.

This down vest has the North Face trademark quilted squares which sit flat so don’t make you look big and bulky.

It comes with large pockets for storage, although these are not discreet or RFID like the SCOTTeVest.

There are over 25 shades and designs to choose from including camouflage and classic navy.

Windproof and water-resistant, the Thermoball runs a little on the large size.

  • Pros: Stylish.
  • Cons: Runs big in size.

 » » Buy man US / UK and woman US / UK) « «


6. Allegra K Quilted Gilet

The Allegra K Women’s Gilet Jacket Stand Collar Lightweight Quilted Zip Vest US / UK is a popular choice for a ladies vest. 

It is definitely marketed more as a fashion item than travel but reviews say it is well made and of great quality for the price.

It comes in a variety of shades including baby blue and pale pink.

The quilted vest has a silver zipped front and two zipped pockets.

  • Pro: Lots of shades.
  • Cons: USA true to size, UK mixed reviews for sizing.

» » Buy Allegra K Women’s Gilet US / UK  ««


7. Little Donkey Andy Men’s Lightweight Softshell Vest

Readers have purchased this vest for its windproof capabilities making it a good contender for hiking, running and golfing.

This Little Donkey men’s vest US / UK is also water repellent. 

It has three layers.

The surface is treated to repel water, the middle layer is breathable and is made from a waterproof TPU membrane while the outer layer is made from polyester synthetic material.

There are three external pockets.

According to customers, the vest runs small so consider going up a size if purchasing.

It is lightweight at 10.09 ounces.

  • Pros: Waterproof
  • Cons: No inside pocket

Travel vests have moved on vastly from the stuffy old beige safari-looking days! Now there is not only a choice of shades but also seasons. You can pack as little or as much as you can carry and can use the travel vest to move swiftly through security and safely through cities.

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Which travel vest do you prefer?
Tell us below.

 

Travel Essentials For Women + Female Packing List

Female Travel Packing List

Looking for a detailed ‘women travel packing list’? I’ve been packing bags and cases since I was 19 years old and this guide was created after a 17-month travel trip around the Americas and Europe. This is now the fourth edition of my travel packing list, I’ve whittled down my original oversized travel wardrobe and I now think I’ve nailed it! I’ve taken short trips and backpacked around extremely hot countries, very rainy climates, freezing snow for skiing and cities with a nip in the air. Hi, I’m Gemma, that’s me in the picture below.

Going away for a while? Check out my guide on how to create a  long-term travel itinerary. Taking a short-term break? Here is how I plan a trip. Now let’s dive into my recommended travel essentials for women.

Female Packing List Items

Vango 80 Litre Rucksack I Female Travel Packing List

I miss this tan

Long-Term Travel Backpack Or Case

Before you start purchasing your sunnies and sandals, it’s probably wise to think about where you are going to put them!

So let’s talk about luggage. Are you a backpack or a suitcase kind of girl?

For a long-term trip, I would advise considering a backpack.

Why? Because there will be times that you are walking through cities and hopping on public transport. Being able to throw a pack on your back makes moving much easier.

We previously used the Vango packs but now that I’ve spent years researching travel gear I would go for the Mercedes of all bags, the Osprey Farpoint 55l US / UK, if you can pack small, or the bigger Osprey Farpoint 70l  US/ UK if you are me.

So what’s so great about Osprey?

Osprey only focuses on bags and bag-related products so they are known as the king or queen of backpacking luggage. They also have a returns policy if the bag stops functioning the way it should.

The Farpoint is ideal because it opens up like a suitcase which makes access to clothes much easier.

Try getting something out of the ‘old style’ top access backpacks while nine other people doze off in a dorm, this is how to not make friends while you travel! Respect the hostel dorm etiquette.

It also has a detachable day pack which you unzip and wear on your front when you have your pack on your back. It actually balances the weight very well.

If you just can’t see yourself with a backpack what about a hybrid?

Hybrid backpacks fuse the best of both worlds – it takes the wheels from a suitcase and the straps from a backpack to create a rolling backpack.

The downside to backpacks with wheels is that they add more weight on to overall backpack as it has to take a structured back and wheel casing into consideration. I’ve written about wheeled backpacks in detail. You can read my comparison guide here.

The main issue with taking a traditional suitcase on a worldwide/long-term trip is that mos cases just aren’t durable enough.

Enter the Eagle Creek range. Eagle Creek luggage is made for off-road which means you can pound the cobbles of Europe and pull the case through the sandy streets of Colombia.

I have been using the Eagle Creek Expanse 78l US / UK for trips over two weeks. It comes with backpack facilities but it’s heavy, I use it like a suitcase. It is the studiest case I’ve had at this size.

Luggage For Short Trips

If you are going away for a shorter trip, say under a month, depending on how you pack you could get away with a much smaller bag or case.

I can’t recommend the Eagle Creek Expanse Carry-On US / UK enough. It’s smooth, good-looking and like its bigger version, strong.

If you prefer an attractive hybrid check out the CabinMax One.

Or for an easy, no fuss 44L backpack, see the CabinZero. Here’s my guide to carry-on luggage.

Eagle Creek Expanse

Other Travel Baggage

While on the move, I usually have a cloth tote bag with my electronics in it for easy access on buses, planes and trains.

I do carry a safe net with me. It is made by Pacsafe US / UK and has protected my belongings well – I was not robbed while travelling!

In accommodation, I put my day bag into the net and secure it around a radiator or bed frame then close it with a padlock. I then cover with a coat etc.

Definitely buy an Osprey bag cover US / UK to protect your day bag and electronics inside. Honestly, my camera stopped working after an Asian downpour in Vietnam back in 2013, so did my heart. Don’t risk it.

PacSafe Net Travel Safety

PacSafe net to deter theft

How to Pack for Long-Term Travel + Short-Term Trips

Packing for long-term travel differs slightly to short-term trips because you have to consider what you can’t get on the road.

It is also likely you are on a budget if going away for a length of time so you don’t want to waste money and have to spend too much on unnecessary travel items for women.

I detail what I replenished and bought at the end of the guide. Other readers have found it useful to see the reality of travel!

For short-term trips, you may be restricted by space and also size. If you are taking carry-on only, you won’t be able to take anything bigger than 100ml liquids so consider this when shopping for travel toiletry items.

My best tip for packing is to roll your clothes, as opposed to folding, as this creates more space and fewer wrinkles.

Pack similar clothes in separate bags.

Packing Cubes and Alternatives

During my big trip, I didn’t use packing cubes opting for large sandwich bags from an army store as they were super cheap.

Now I do use packing cubes. I like that they come in a variety of sizes and zip around the items.

You can pack a lot in and they place neatly in your luggage, stacking on top of each other.

The grab handles on each cube are handy for pulling out from your bag or case. See for yourself US / UK.

I also carry cute makeup bags which I pack my underwear and swimwear into. You can see the contents of my backpack in the image below.

I read that Primark packing cubes now exist so may be worth a dig for future trips. 

Long-Term Female Travel Packing List + Short Term ‘Pic n Mix’

Please factor into your budget that it is highly likely that you will replenish some of your long-term female travel packing list at some point.

Washing machines and launderettes in the likes of Vietnam, Peru, etc are pretty harsh on your clothes ruining those travel essentials for women.

White clothing quickly becomes gross yellow colour! Suntan lotion, curry, alcohol stains can’t always be avoided (if it was a good night!)

Things get stolen, yes, annoying but opportunists carry a backpack too. Seriously think about investing in the PacSafe net if you carry expensive electronics with you.

We managed to avoid any theft using it.

Travel Clothes for Women

Travel Tops

Tops – this is where packing starts to get difficult for me because although I am practical, I still like to look nice.

  • 3 x day vest tops – mixed colours
  • 1 x night vest top – lacey, black
  • 1 x hoody – ditched when reached warmer climates
  • 1 x thin top
  • 2 x cardigans – 1 x black / 1 x yellow
  • 1 x fold-away raincoat, the Marmot waterproof jacket US / UK – love – definitely one to add to your packing sheet, perfect for the backpacking Europe packing list females, and menfolk! It goes everywhere with me from dog walking up Munros (Scottish mountains) to hiking through rainforests. 

Machu Picchu Packing List

International travel packing list: vesties are besties – easy to pack for trips to Machu Picchu, Peru

Don’t Skirt Around – Dresses

I love dresses! If you choose the right type of material (avoid denim and wool), they roll down very small.

Perfect for hot days, party nights, and Instagram photos!

Also ideal for a road trip packing list since they are so versatile.

  • 1 x fancy summer dress – black
  • 1 x black wrap-around – LBD for travel, top tip for female packing list South America, samba in style
  • 1 x yellow – my fave colour
  • 1x playsuit

Tip: I tend to avoid patterns – easier to dress up, dress down, to keep looking new.

Travel Trousers / Bottoms

I’m not the biggest fan of trousers or shorts. My dumpy 5’2 1/2 body does not look good in denim shorts, praise be to the chicas who can rock that look.

For those who do look cool in hot pants, you could replace some items in the bottoms list.

  • 1 x black culottes – 4 years old, love them
  • 1 x khaki shorts – hiking
  • 1 x plain skirt
  • 1 x denim skirt – probably don’t need this as heavy but I like it
  • 1 x black long gym trousers – doubles up as disco pants
  • 1 x waterproofs – thin/light, pull on top of gym trousers for hikes and skiing

My friend Laura has a great review on travel pants (trousers to us Brits!), they actually look nice!

Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua

Hiked up an active volcano in Nicaragua & boarded down it, in culottes!

Mosquitos. The little horrors love me!

All guides tell you to wear light, floaty clothes but that look is just not me so I compromise with wearing the disco pants after dusk in areas which are very prone to them.

Take malaria tablets in malaria zones and be wary of Zika, especially if trying to get pregnant.

We did carry mosquito nets by Lifesystems for the first year but did not use them, definitely times where we should have.

Check if the countries you are visiting have a malaria warning.

For the first year we used mosquito repellent with DEET called OFF but then decided that since it was making no difference we’d use a DEET free alternative called Avon Skin So Soft US / UK.

DEET melts plastic, I’ll just leave you thinking about that.

Underwear

This aspect of the long-term travel packing list for women is really a personal choice. I would always go for the higher number of underwear as I’m a clean freak.

Yes, you can hand-wash (and you will) but it is often not warm enough from hand-washing to dry, especially when moving on every couple of days. Tired of moving? It happens, consider the benefits of slow travel!

  • 5-7 pairs of pants/knickers
  • 4 pairs of trainers socks
  • 1 – 2 pairs of longer socks – traditional / ‘normal’ – better for hiking
  • 2 x bras
  • 1 x sports bra
  • PJs – 1 x vest / 1 x shorts

Underwear storage: Cute makeup bag with zip.

Swimwear

  • 1 x black bikini top
  • 1 x blue bikini top – one halter / one straps is ideal
  • 3 x bikini bottoms

Storage: a stripy makeup bag, hello sailor!

Travel Shoes

Walk your way to packing success by learning from my mistakes…

I used to carry way too many shoes! This was pointed out to me when I posted a photo of packing list version three on Two Scots Abroad Facebook page! Here are my long-term footwear essentials.

  • 1 x flip-flops – Havaianas US / UK – 5 years old
  • 1x day trainers – black
  • 1x walking boots/shoes – Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK which I trekked with to Machu Picchu, lighter than boots but still waterproof, quite attractive as boots go
  • 1 x fancy sandals -black
  • 1 x sports trainers – if your day trainers can double up, great, but remember they will smell pretty quickly, especially if in warm and then rainy climates. My gym Nikes squashed down really neatly so I didn’t mind carrying them.

Long Term Packing Guide I Female Travel Packing List

Female Packing List #3 – get rid of some shoes!

Exercising While Travelling

I packed a sports bra so when we moved to Canada for six months I began exercising again. I bought cheap gym trousers from a charity shop and used a downgraded vest top.

  • Sports bra
  • Gym trousers
  • Downgraded vest top
  • Nike trainers (mentioned in travel shoe section)

Bling, Rings, and Other Accessories

  • 2 x sunglasses – lose / break / replace
  • 1 x large scarf – multi-use: cover-up, beach towel, create a den around your dorm bed for privacy
  • 2 x headscarf – hides day 2 hair
  • Jewellery – leave the expensive bling at home, this means engagement/wedding rings – most insurance policies will not pay back the full amount and obviously the sentimental heartbreak of losing them is not worth it
  • Watch – phone battery won’t always be charged!
  • Documents wallet
  • Small money purse
  • Handbag? I bought a cheap one in Vancouver as we moved there for 4 months
  • Cloth bag – beachwear / picnics / electronics
  • Drawstring bag – great for putting wet clothes in / or lunch on travel days as it attaches to clips on day bag

SXSW free parties

Partying at SXSW festival in Austin

Travel Toiletries List & Makeup

In all honesty, I rarely wear make when in super-hot climates like Nicaragua but I wore a full face on nights out in Austin, Texas so this will change with your own personal routine.

Face – Avoid Ageing Skin

  • Factor 50/60 moisturiser, always! La Roche-Posay US / UK. if feeling flush
  • Cream lotion wash – with re-usable makeup cloths
  • Exfoliating wash – I am prone to acne

Travel Hair

  • Solid shampoo – this stuff is genius, no liquid so no spill!
  • Lush solid conditioner too avocado – lovely
  • Bobbles
  • Kirby grips/bobby pins
  • Hairspray
  • Dry shampoo – I dropped this from list

My normal routine is washed hair worn down but watch for sunburn in your parting.

Day two hair is worn up.

I like quiffs and buns to pull my hair back.

I found head scarfs a nice way to hide greasy hair too.

Sandboarding sandskiing Peru

Throwing my hair up for sandboarding and skiing in Peru

Body Talk

  • Toothpaste – I love the Lush tablet version, Craig hates it
  • Soap
  • Body wash – I’ve cut this out
  • Deodorant – I tried the chemical-free stuff, not suitable for sweaty climates like Cuba!
  • Razor
  • Factor 50 suntan lotion – always
  • Avon Skin So Soft US / UK – midges, mosquitos and smooth skin

We did not bother taking a towel.

I hate those quick-dry microfibre travel towels!

They just move the water around your skin. Personal choice to hire instead.

If travelling as a couple and booking private rooms you’ll find that towels are often included. Oh, the privilege!

Solid Toothpaste Travel Gifts

Tooth tabs – no spill

Makeup – The Slap 

  • Light foundation
  • Urban Decay palette
  • Liquid eyeliner
  • Lipstick for party nights
  • Real Techniques brushes – comes with a case
  • No nail varnish – exploded twice, luckily packed in sealed Tupperware!
  • Nail file
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Luminous face paint for a festival!

I know some of you will not bother with make-up at all and high five to you  but I’ve been plagued with acne since I was 19 so like to have something to cover up the scars (the sun helps!)

Travel Makeup Fail

Imagine they weren’t in a tub?! Summer vacation packing list for females – essential or bin?

Delhi Belly – Long-Term Travel Medical Kit

This covers every day normal pills to deathbed essentials.

  • Contraceptive pill (photocopy proof of prescriptions)
  • Paracetamol
  • Aspirin
  • Tablets for constipation
  • Tablets for diarrhoea
  • Malaria tablets
  • Anti-histamine tablets
  • Anti-bacterial cream for bites
  • Plasters
  • Blister pads
  • Leukotape hiking tape US / UK – does not budge so prevents blisters
  • Tubigrip support
  • First aid kit – including needles
  • Filter and purifying bottle – like DrinkSafe Travel Tap (read review) or Water to Go (quote TSA15 for 15% off at checkout)
  • Tampons! A reader pointed out in the comments that you may struggle to get them on the road, so true! I had to get my mum and mother in law to bring packs over for me on two occasions. Stock up!
  • I now pack a menstrual cup or period pants. I’ve tried both and prefer the latter.

Leukotape Tape

Travel Insurance

Don’t travel without it, it’s not worth the risk. Us Brits have the luxury of socialised medical health care through the National Health Service so don’t quite understand that the cost of using health care systems in countries which charge.

My friend, Kaci, went over her ankle at the Grand Canyon and was charged $500 for a visit to the doctor and an X-ray. Luckily she had travel insurance and good friends (me!) to hold her hand all morning (while others were out hiking…)

I’ve shopped around, extensively (that’s how I roll, you can probably tell from the length of this article) and settled on True Traveller because they could insure hiking at high altitude (Lares Trek to Machu Picchu) as well as skiing at Whistler.

I claimed in Vancouver; I had to visit the GP and physiotherapist (I had ear crystals which were making me feel dizzy!) and they paid out speedily.

They also answered my stupid amount of questions before I bought, I really do wish I could be as cool and laid back as Craig sometimes! Get a travel quote for your trip from their site here.

World Nomads is one of the other popular travel insurances.

Emerald Lake Canada I Two Scots Abroad

Canadian Rockies

Travel Electronics

Blogging, watching Netflix, taking snaps – here are the essential travel electronics which I travel with:

  • MacBook Air – maybe not essential for non-bloggers
  • I used to use a WD My Passport 1TB external hard drive
  • I now use Transcend US / UK and Craig uses a tiny Sandisk SSD US / UK
  • Camera – then Nikon Coolpix, moved to Sony A6000, now Canon M50
  • SD cards – I never delete images, another form of backup. Do not buy from eBay, I did and they were fake and lost my images, when compared to the real deal it was obvious they were fake. Learn from my mistake
  • Phone
  • I won’t travel without a second battery just in case. We use Anker battery charger US / UK
  • Earphones
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • New addition – JBL clip music speaker US / UK – it’s light, splash-proof, clips on to your bag, and is cheap. Craig has bought a few for gifts this year, it’s love

Anker Portable Charger Phone

Skross Universal Plug USB Port

Before I knew how to take photos

Female Backpacking List – Replenishing Clothes

How do you guys look so suave all the time on the road?! I’d love a blog post about that! Seriously!! – Facebook follower.

Quick answer – we are vain! Craig and I have purchased additional items to meet needs and replenished our clothes when required for the likes of moving to a different climate.

I usually shop in charity shops but with the exception of Canada this wasn’t really an option so had to settle for H&M.

Peru (April)

  • 1 x scarf from a market in Cusco
  • 1 x fake North Face puffy jacket – below
  • 1 x Peruvian handbag – fell apart by June!

Osprey Bag Cover

Canada (September)

  • New brogue shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Denim skirt
  • Dress
  • Handbag
  • Tights
  • Socks
  • My friend brought over Marks and Spencer knickers and a Topshop dress
  • Splurged on 4 items for $12 CAD / £6 at the Salvation Army
  • New vintage raincoat – sent home (yellow)
  • Ski gloves – should have bought liners too at the hardware store. I’ve now upgraded to Hestra gloves US / UK which are really flipping expensive but I did not feel the cold once during our ski week in Austria this year
  • Grey winter hat for snowshoeing – Toronto Kensington Market
  • Winter hat – Vancouver souvenir…

… and a vintage wedding dress, but I don’t expect everyone has ‘eloping to Austin‘ on their long-term travel plan

Rings Austin Wedding Special

Portland, Oregon (January)

  • New vest tops as moving to Nicaragua – 35 degrees heat!

Austin, Texas (March)

  • Wedding shoes / bag / jewellery / underwear

Budapest, Hungary (May)

Gearing up for warmer weather.

  • Three new dresses
  • 1 x vest tops
  • 1 x cardigan
  • 1 x bikini bottoms
  • Socks
  • Sandals

Lisbon, Portugal (July)

  • 1 x new dress for a festival, I was feeling pretty gross about clothes at this time
  • 1 x sunglasses

Our family kindly gave us money throughout the trip for birthdays, the Vancouver engagement, the wedding, and out of feeling sorry for us! This helped fund Project Replenish.

Packing List for Women Overview

When we returned home after travelling for 17 months it felt so good piling up the contents of the rucksack and burning them. Jokes! I’m pretty certain the culottes, Salomon shoes, and Marmot raincoat will be going on our next trip to Iceland too. Want more? Check out this crazily extensive packing lists directory!

I hope this packing guide for females has been of use. I have created a pin to accompany this long-term planning list for women – please feel free to save and share (pin to Pinterest packing board!)

Pack for success with this female travel packing list.

So what do you think?
Have I nailed the ultimate packing list?
What can’t you travel without?


» Read next: our hiking packing list – what to pack and what to leave


7 Best Travel Pants for Men Review [Updated]

Best Travel Pants for Men Review

Dilemma: you are taking a travel trip with a purpose. There is that business meeting in NYC, a wedding in Santorini or a date trip with the other half and you need to trade your boardies for the best travel pants. I (Craig) don’t believe we are one type of travel fan. At different times in our lives (or even a year), our reasons for travel differ and sometimes we need to look business even if we feel backpacker, so here is a guide to the best travel pants for men online has to offer with tips on what to look for before purchasing too.

Short on time? Check out my travel trousers of choice – click here

Best Mens Travel Pants Overview

Choosing Your Travel Trousers

When deciding which pants are the best fit (boom boom) you may want to consider the following specifications.

Crushability

Can the mens travel trousers fold or roll away neatly into small cabin bags or busy backpacks for days on end without resembling the skin of a Shar-Pei?

Materials such as wools, nylon and polyester tend to come out on top for crushability ratings.

Breathability

Gemma’s uncle has to change his suit twice a day on business trips to Saudi Arabia.

He needs this travel trousers review. We need our ‘trews to let our hairy bods breathe in warmer climates yet keep off the chill in colder.

Storage

The storage category is two-fold. Can the backpacking pants be packed (see crushability) and does it have pockets?

There is an increasing trend for designers to add internal and hidden pockets for essentials such as passports and currency to help ward off opportunists.

My friend is just back from Paris, there’s this scam where entertainers ask tourists to guess which cup the item is under while thieves rifle through bystanders pockets and bags – don’t be a fool!

Finally, now that our phones resemble iPads we need these pockets to be big, Mary Poppins style.

Lightweight

This category covers the feel of the travel trousers on your body as well as the ability to carry them and keep to luggage restrictions; it’s not only the budget airlines that are cracking down now. If they are lightweight, it’s an excuse to pack two different colours.

Waterproof yet quick dry

Ever tried to dry your everyday threads on a bed and breakfast radiator after a Scottish downpour?

Since many of our trips involve one-night stops the pants needs to keep the rain off but dry quickly with minimum support.

No one wants to bag wet clothes (hello damp smell) or put on clammy outdoor trousers so quick-dry pants are worth the investment.

Hey good lookin’

Finally, and most importantly, our new travel pants need to make us look and feel good.

Especially when your other half is Instagram obsessed.

Versatile colours that can match nicely with the limited clothes you can pack in a bag are a big win.

So now we know how hard it is to find the best travel pants let’s put the top seven through the wringer.

Travel Pants Review 2021

Convertible Travel Pants

The following travel pants have a split personality – turning from full length to shorts in less than two minutes flat.

Avid travellers and adventure lovers will appreciate how versatile these converter travel pants are.

Convertible pants don’t have to be ugly just because they are practical!

Columbia Silver Ridge

These stylish straight-legged Columbia Silver Ridge US / UK are 100% nylon travel trousers and have a lot to offer.

Pros

  • Side cargo pocket
  • Quick-dry (Omni-wick material)
  • UPF factor 50 material (Omni-shade)
  • Zip-off above the knee (stylish, not frumpy)
  • Right/left identified for ease while attaching
  • Functional pants

Cons

  • Reviews say to order one size bigger

White Sierra Point

White Sierra UK has been making travel pants since the 1970s and is a trusted family-run brand.

The Sierra Point zip-off action will keep you cool in warmer climates. 100% nylon material.

Pros

  • Quick-dry woven nylon
  • Teflon fabric protection
  • 10″ inseam shorts measurement
  • UPF factor 30 sun protection
  • Pockets galore – 2 front, 2 cargo, 1 ‘rip + stick’ back pocket

Cons

  • Beige colour not to every man’s tastes (other colours available)
  • Not as attractive as the Columbia Silver Ridge above
  • UK only

Best Chinos Pants

A step up from the safari look, these pants are suave and more suitable for dinner dates and business meetings.

Bluffworks

When it comes to best men’s dress pants these are my personal choice because they are stylish yet practical combining the best of above-mentioned pants.

Bluffworks comes is a variety of six colours (charcoal, harvest gold, steel blue, navy blue, khaki and stone) which you can mix and match with the suit jacket.

There’s also a choice of two fits ‘regular $98’ and ‘chino $125’ (I’m sporting steel blue chinos below). These Bluffworks really are comfortable pants for travel.

Bluffworks men’s pant’s zipper pockets are perfect for keeping personal items close and protected.

Discreet zips can be found on one bottom pocket and one side pocket.

The opposite open side pocket has an internal zip which is flush with the body.

Bluffworks are expanding their travel range, they now have a quilted travel vest which is stylish yet practical for storing your belongings. Don’t believe me? Read our review here.  For me, Bluffworks does the best travel clothes for men on the market at present. 

Pros

  • Quick-dry nylon
  • Water-resistant
  • Machine washable
  • Lightweight 5.31 oz.
  • Extremely good looking
  • Cleverly hidden pockets
  • Pockets big enough for a phone
  • Delivers worldwide

Cons

  • I like my suits super skinny so tailored to create an even slimmer fit look (I am very slim, not by choice!)
  • Not on Amazon – buy direct (I’m a cheerleader)

Bluffworks travel suit | Travel chinos

Comfortable travel trousers Bluffworks

Rainer Travel Chino

UNIONBAY men’s Rainer chino pants USA / UK are lightweight and look great.

Popular, so often difficult to find, the Rainer pants are dual-purpose chinos – they look nice so work for smart travel gear but also work as active pants.

They are water-resistant and quick drying so ideal for those hiking and moving on between trips quickly. Made from 94% nylon and 6 % spandex.

Pros

  • Stretch
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-drying
  • UPF 50

Cons

  • Big fit
  • Sell out quickly

Men’s Hiking Pants

From Tarzan to trekking, the following robust action pants are tough so suitable for many terrains.

Craghoppers Kiwi

Smart yet sturdy, Craghoppers is a well-known brand, trusted by many internationally when it comes to hiking pants for men.

The Classic Kiwi US / UK has nine pockets, five of which have zips and one big enough for a map for those who are looking for quality men’s hiking pants.

The Kiwi comes with a belt and is made of 65% polyester, 35% cotton.

Pros

  • Best selling Craghoppers range
  • Quick-drying
  • Water repellent
  • SolarShield fabric (UPF50)
  • 9 pockets

Cons

  • Not waterproof

Free Soldier

These Free Soldier trousers US / UK are sturdy but also stylish.

Made with 100% breathable nylon and comes in 4 colours (green, black, grey, mud)

Pros

  • Rip-stock fabric
  • Stretch waist adds 2 inches
  • 6 pockets (hand, zipper, and back)
  • Waterproof Teflon coated material
  • Lightweight travel cargo pants

Cons

  • Colour can vary from that advertised
  • Limited reviews

prAna Stretch Zion

prAna Stretch Zion US / UK is a popular hiking pants. Prone to getting hot around the boys?

PrAna offers a ventilated inseam gusset. You read that right. Made from 97% Nylon and 3% Spandex so scratch durable yet flexible.

Pros

  • Ventilation around the privates
  • Roll-up leg snaps
  • Cargo pocket
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Variety of colours

Cons

  • Not quite streamline if that’s your look

Best Comfortable Pants

Long haul flights or overnight bus journeys are not comfortable in the majority of travel pants so that’s where casual pants are recommended.

prAna Sutra

Not quite jogging pants because jogging pants would be too heavy for travel, the prAna Sutra US / UK is a lightweight alternative that does not skimp on comfort. Ideal flight pants for international travel.

The Sutra pant is made from a mix of hemp, recycled polyester and spandex. The waist is held up by a drawstring and the pants come in a variety of colours.

Pros

  • Comfy
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-dry
  • UPF 50+
  • Variety of colours

Cons

  • Drawstring belt not for everyone


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the best men’s pants to wear on a long flight
    PrAna’s pants are the most comfortable pants suitable for long-haul flights as well as overnight bus journeys and long road trips.

  • What are the best travel pants for hot weather?
    It is advisable to go for a convertible pant if you are visiting warm climates. That way you can have the best of both worlds – long trousers for night and shorts for day wear/hiking.

  • Which are the best travel pants for Europe?
    Personally, I think Bluffworks travel pants are the top choice for a trip to Europe. They are classy enough for an evening at the opera in Vienna yet casual too, you wouldn’t look out of place at a sports game.
  • What are the best pants for RTW travel?
    Convertibles! Columbia Silver Ridges as an example.

Final Words

At present, there is a huge variety of pants to suit every budget which this review has detailed from men’s walking trousers to the best backpacking pants. Whether you are bird watching on safari or at Dublin’s Temple Bar there is a type of travel pants for every male traveller. You may also like our guide to men’s plaid shirts.

Best mens travel pants, travel pants for men, casual, stylish, mens travel outfits, summer, sping, fall, Europe, plane, mens packing list, mens travel products, mens travel gear, gift for men

Over to you.
Which are your favourites?

Zero Waste Gifts For All the Family

Zero waste gifts

Stressing about the amount of waste and plastic that the festive period and birthday parties bring? You’ve come to the right place. This zero-waste gift guide shares ideas for everyone in the family from the workaholic to those with wanderlust, without shoving your environmental agenda down their throat (too much). Let’s help create a band of ‘progress not perfection’ single-use plastic-free fans for 2019.

Zero Waste Gift Ideas

For The Office Worker

Assuming the worker in your life is a savvy saver and takes their own lunch to work, a vintage-looking tin packed lunch box is a really nice alternative to a plastic box.

Dump the clingfilm/Saran wrap in exchange for these reusable sandwich bags US / UK.

Cute designs and eco-friendly. The Boc n’ Roll spreads out, you wrap the food around it and close it with the velcro tab. Easy. 

Boc n Roll Reusable Sandwich Bag Boc n Roll Reusable Sandwich Bag

For The Coffee Lover

Stylish yet plastic-free, the KeepCup US / UK is one of the most popular zero-waste items on the internet.

The KeepCup was created by coffee shop owners in Austalia who wanted a more sustainable solution to disposable cups.

The cup itself is made from tempered soda lime glass with a silicone or cork band to avoid burnt fingers.

The plastic lid is BPA/BPS-free. It kind of feels like a kid’s sippy cup but in a cool way. 

For The Party Goer

Did you know that over 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the USA alone?

Although many companies like McDonalds and bars like Wetherspoons are moving towards paper straw use there is no guarantee that everyone is doing so.

An alternative is a steel straw like this collapsible one US / UK which folds away into a small box. It comes with a cleaning stick too.

Warning: people have a habit of taking your eco straws when you are not looking *heavy eye roll*. 

Glitter looks awesome as part of a party outfit and all the rage at beach parties but it is awful for marine life if the party moves to the sea.

There is a variety of ethical glitter such as Minke US / UK

Collapsable Straws
Collapsable Straws

For The Hiker

Hands down one of the best bottles on the market for hikers is the Tree Tribe water bottle. 

What’s the appeal? It not only keeps water cool for a day but also hot liquids hot for six hours.

Sure, many bottles do this but what makes it so useful for hikers is that there is a hook which you can attach to a bag.

There is no plastic on the bottle, the lid is made from bamboo. The packaging is also paper-based.

If travelling abroad to countries with dodgy tap water, consider a filtering and purification bottle like Water To Go (claim 15% off, quote TSA15 at checkout).


 » » Read next: our travel water bottle review « «


Tree Tribe Bottle Gift

For The Travel Lover

The travel fans will appreciate any of the items listed which are light to carry and save cash. 

A space saver option is a solid shampoo and a tin.

I’ve used a variety of these while on the road and at home.

The extra bonus is that solid toiletries are spill-free so no chance of liquids exploding in your bag.

Solid toiletries do need some time to dry so leave the lid off overnight when you can to prevent them from going gloopy.

Getting personal, the female traveller in your life might be interested in a sanitary cup like the Diva Cup US or similar. 

The cup is entered after folding it into a C shape then allowing it to unfold once up there.

Not going to lie, it is tricky to insert but you get used to it.

The best practice is to do it in the shower in a squatting position.

After 10-12 hours, pinch the bottom, breaking the seal suction and then pour the contents down the loo, give it a clean and insert again. Saves a lot of money, space, and is zero waste.

Alternatively, try period pants. I wear Cheeky Wipes, here’s 15% off orders of £40 for UK readers


 » » You may also like: 10 unique travel gifts under $20 « «


Menstrual Cup

For The Festival Goer

At some point throughout the event, gig-goers have to eat and unfortunately, at festivals the food is fast and the cutlery is plastic.

A workaround is to carry this light bamboo kit US / UK which includes a fork, knife, spoon, straw and cleaner. It comes wrapped in a cloth with a button. My only gripe is the inability to clean it unless you carry washing up liquid too (doubtful).

The committed might also consider a collapsible cup, although some bars might not let you refill though. One out of six bar staff refused me at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in comparison to the Vegan Beer Festival who gave attendees cups to refill.

Bamboo Cutlery Straw

For The Shopper

This is not revolutionary in any way but you can’t go wrong with a zero-waste bag!

Choose from a novelty design like NASA tote.

Yup, this is what I got Craig for his birthday.

Or make a statement with a tote with a message or slogan.

Plastic bags cost at least 5p in many Europeans countries to encourage shoppers to bring their own. Maybe they’ll use their tote bag when they do their zero waste shopping!

Tote Bag Gift

For The Beauty Queen

Where do I even start? So many options in the zero waste beauty range.

Ditch the wet wipes for face wash. Terrible for your skin and even the ‘flushable‘ ones end up blocking sewers.

I love Lush’s Ultrabland cleanser which you can team up with a washable muslin cloth or washable pads.

Lush lead the way when it comes to zero waste skincare because you can return five of your empty ‘not virgin’ tubs and claim your free face mask at Lush stores.

There is now a wide range of zero waste makeup companies such as Clean Faced Cosmetics [USA] and BandSApothecary [UK]. I’m bought the mascara in the tin as a gift. 

For The Beach Goer

Genius alert! Reusable beach cups US / UK which have triangular bottoms so you dig them into the sand to stop them falling over reusable beach cup.

They are referred to as beach spikers. They even come in Mr & Mrs wedding gift form.

For The Cook

The kitchen is actually one of the easiest places to start going single-use plastic-free but not necessarily a great area for gifts! Thinking outside of the box (boom boom) you could create hampers without the shrink wrap. Ideas include hampers for soup fans, tea lovers or even gin connoisseur!

For example, a tea-rific hamper could include:

  • Loose tea leaves
  • Tea strainer
  • A nice mug or two
  • Fun teaspoons
  • Quality boxed biscuits, without a plastic film where possible

I’m a big fan of hampers! I like to be creative with gifts.

Alternatively, if you know that your loved one would like some of the more general plastic-free options you could consider the following.

For storage, you could purchase mason jars. Why not film them with something quirky like glass drink miniatures and make a ‘bar in a jar’?

Or zero waste beauty products for a ‘spa in a jar’? This is what we made our friends to say thanks for helping us with our wedding party (we eloped then partied at home in Scotland). The bar in a jar went down well (full of the jokes today!)

My new go-to breakfast is overnight oats. Bang oats, milk and fruit (some peanut butter if feeling wild) into a small mason jar, clip closed and fridge it.

The result?

Gorgeously gooey oats in the morning.

Anything and everything can be stored in mason jars and they come in a variety of sizes

Not into jars?

Beeswax sheets are another alternative to clingfilm/saran wrap.

You place them over the dish and heat them up with your hands to mould them. Rinse under cold water and clean with a small amount of soap. The sheets have nice designs on them too. 

Nessie Tea Strainer

For The Clean Freaks

So this is not gift-worthy but worth discussing.

For cleaning, vinegar in glass bottles makes the perfect cleaner when mixed with water.

You can avoid the chippy smell by adding a few drops of essential oils.

I know this goes against the ‘Hinching’ craze but let’s be honest – as impressive as it is to watch one woman create an engaged community on Instagram Stories, hoard buying plastic bottles is awful for the environment.

I hope to see the zero waste/plastic free charities work with Mrs Hinch’s Home in the near future.

She has a captive audience and her influencer could be used for something positive (to borrow actress Jameela Jamil from Netflix’s The Good Place thoughts on Instagram influence).

After you’ve finished your next plastic disinfectant bottle, keep it and add the zero waste remedy to it.

Ask your grandparents about the use of vinegar for cleaning, it’s not a new concept.

For cleaning cloth, hold on to old clothes and create rags or invest in reusable sponges.

Wooden brushes with coconut fibres US / UK are also available and last for an age.


→ You may also like | Our beginner’s guide to zero waste


For The Kids

OK, maybe this is a little preachy but there is a beautiful book called Duffy’s Lucky Escape US / UK which details the challenge of the plastic tide for marine life in story form.

It is based on a true story. What better time to help them consider their choices than when they are wee?

These tiny zero waste toothbrushes US  / UK are also cute.

I’m also throwing in some child-friendly bath bombs. 

Zero Waste Gifts Kids

For The Parents To Be

So much waste comes with having kids – baby showers, baby wipes, outsized clothing but regardless of this one aspect of baby life trumps everything – nappies/diapers.

Newborns go through 6-12 nappies per day (so I’m told) and disposable nappies take up to 500 years to decompose! 

The solution?

Cloth nappies/diapers US / UK.

Naturally, continual machine wash of cloth nappies/diapers will have an impact on the environment through electricity, drying outside and not via tumble drier is recommended where possible.

For The Bride To Be

An appreciated wedding present is a framed poster of some kind. In the past, we’ve framed first dance lyrics and creative couple portraits like this one by Claire Barclay Draws.

Get personal on paper! Below is an example we commissioned Claire to do. It’s my brother-in-law, Kyle and his wife, Ashley. Ashley said it was the best wedding gift they received (and she had no idea it was zero waste!)

Claire Barclay Draws Portraits

For Everyone

Screw stuff altogether and create a day out for you and your loved ones. Gigs, holidays, spas or sporting events, booking a ticket and creating a themed card to go with it is often the best zero waste gift you can buy, whether you are going to cramp style or not!

Also, I am in love with these ‘scratch and reveal’ gift cards. A perfect way to share the ‘experience’ gift.

Alternatively, give to charity.

Many non-profits offer certificates for packages such as education packs or clean water. My Mum always contributes to charity on our behalf as part of our Christmas gift.

I’ve bought a refugee survival kit from Choose Love for a wee member of the family. 

Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

There’s a new wave in wrapping called furoshiki. Not new to Japan, this cloth-based wrapping technique is super popular amongst young folks today. The beauty of it is you can’t go wrong because there are lots of different ways to wrap with fabric.

Alternatively, brown paper makes a really nice base then use twine, scraps of fabric or leather cord to tie it up. Paper tape can be used to close the gift, it’s ridiculously expensive though and impossible to find in local shops.

Final Words

This guide to zero waste presents for every member of the family should help you in your quest to get the team onboard the single-use plastic-free campaign without them knowing it! High five to plastic freedom and one step closer to a greener life. 


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What’s your favourite zero waste gift to give?

Tell us in the comments below.

→  Read next | Easy yet fun homemade gifts