Updated: 5th April 2018
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Whether it’s Christmas or Birthday gifts you are hunting for a travelling friend or you simply want to stock up on some travel essentials yourself, most shopping lists focus on consumerism and affiliate links. I’ve decided to go a different route and try and focus on useful shit that also has a bit of a positive impact.
Whether you have a responsible traveller as a friend, an eco-tourist on a mission in the family or simply want a few stocking fillers that give back to the world, these 10 products and ideas will help to make your travel-planning shopping impact a positive.
1. WEE PAL
What it does: Wee Pal is a portable charger for your mobile (or anything with a USB connection). I took this little wizard on a test run through the desert of Oman this month and it packed a good 3/4 phone chargers to keep me snapping away. Any traveller knows thats keeping their devices charged is an essential these days and at a compact size and a price of £25 it’s super handy.
How they help: Wee Pal is one of the products from Power A Life and for each product sold they give a solar charging reading light to a child in Africa which can help studies as well as using renewable energy.
2. LAST SWAB
What it does: LastSwab is a sanitary and reusable replacement for traditional cotton/plastic swaps, in two different formats – one for makeup, and one of ear hygiene. It can be reused up to 1000 times, limiting the amount of single use items that we discard each day. While we have seen bamboo toothbrushes becoming more ordinary and plastic bags starting to disappear from daily use, there are still many items in our bathrooms especially we overlook from a reduce, re-use, recycle point of view, and this is one of those. Yes, it may seem a bit icky at first, but it’s all for the good of our planet!
How they help: Limiting the number of cotton/plastic swabs used in the world, which is currently millions each day!
3. LIFE STRAW
What it does: Life Straw is an amazing piece of kit which either comes as the bottle shown, or the straw to sip straight from another container or river. With a unique built in filtration system it’s handy for any traveller likely to find themselves off the beaten path.
How they help: Working in Kenya and India for each product sold a donation is made to provide one child with safe drinking water for a whole school year, you can keep track of their mission on their website.
4. WAVES FOR WATER
What it does: This awesome group work on getting water filters to those who need it the most. If you have a passionate traveller in your crew who wants to give back then getting them a few of these cheap, simple and easy to install water filters to give on their travels to others is an epic gift given how compact they are to travel with and the powerful impact involved.
My friend Jen pictured above always has a couple in her case ready to help, simples.
5. FUJI POLAROID
What it does: This compact and instant camera is great for a whole range of reasons but the thing I love the most? Being able to gift people photos and memories on the road. The amount of times I have met kids and adults who has asked for a photo to then take it away on a digital camera. Being able to leave them a memory as well is super powerful.
How they help: FujiFilm and Fuji both support a range of different charity partners including WaterAid.
6. HOPE SHADES
What it does: These shades not only come in a whole range of fancy design but are made with an eco focus. With renewable resource including wood and recycled Resin there is a sustainable focus behind each pair.
How they help: $5 from each purchase goes to a charity depending on which shades you purchase with a range of different options to support including Hunger, Trafficking and Cancer.
What it does: Ten Tree are a fashion and accessories company for both men and women which plant ten trees for each product they sell. A great option if you fly a lot and want to get some new gear and help combat some of those emissions. Looking to kit your travels out with some awesome gear that gives back, check out Nomad Traveller Co for a huge selection of responsible travel gear.
What it does: Kiva is a peer to peer loan company where you can give loans from a starting point of $25 and once you are paid back, recycle that money back into another project. If you want to give a stranger a gift this year, how about the ability for them to start their own business and find their solutions.
How they help: I love the idea behind Kiva because instead of someone going in and telling a community what they need those people tell you what they need. You can then support them on projects that are not only helpful for those individuals but will actually have a long term impact on their terms.
9. ZORPADS SHOE ODOR CONTROLERS
What it does: Let’s be honest, smelly feet aren’t a conversation anyone wants to bring up but if you’ve ever stayed in a hostel, it’s likely been a topic you’ve wanted to shout at someone, or yourself, about. As someone who travels for extended periods of time with one or two pairs of shoes max I’ve been guilty of chucking the odd paid when I’ve not had time to launder them and they’ve got damp/smelly/backpacker-style gross and I don’t want to subject my room-mates to the smell. I was a bit sceptical about these at first and on the first pair of shoes I tried them on (a fabric pair) they didn’t make much difference but in my sneakers, they had them smelling pretty fresh in a few hours. Simply stick them in and through some science that escapes my mind, they de-odorize your footwear. A cheaper and more environmental alternative to replacing your footwear.
How they help: Apart from the nose-pleasing, friend making affect they’ll have in any shared dorm, they’ll ultimately help you minimise your waste on the road by not needing to go disposable-fashion style on an extended backpacking trip.
10. E-CARDS & DONATE
What it does: Ahhh Christmas Cards, a whole bunch of hassle, stamps and trees… I get the appeal and why some people still hold them dear but how about taking a different approach this year.
Pick a charity, send everyone on your Christmas card list an e-card and let them know that you have given $1 per person to your chosen charity this year instead of sending cards. Super simple but imagine the power if we all did this.
Still on the hunt for more gift inspiration? Check out Alex’s useful gifts for backpackers list which isn’t stuffed with overly expensive affiliate crap.