Drinking contaminated water can cause serious illness. The LifeStraw Steel is a nifty little device that uses a replaceable activated carbon capsule to filter water, making it safe to drink by removing impurities and bacteria whilst reducing chlorine. It's durable and lightweight – weighing just 160g it's smaller and lighter than many water bottles – and can be slipped into a backpack pocket. The LifeStraw is invaluable in a range of travel situations where fresh drinking water is unavailable or local tap water needs to be purified – it's particularly useful for camping trips and for long-distance hiking, when it's not always possible to carry enough bottled water for your journey. The LifeStraw Steel works like a straw – collect water in a drinking vessel, or you can even drink straight from the water source. Unlike water purification tablets there is no nasty aftertaste.
Getting a good night's sleep when you're travelling can sometimes be hard – overnight flights, unfamiliar hotel rooms and noisy neighbours can all contribute to insomnia, making you feel awful the next day. SleepPhones are quality earphones encased in a soft and luxurious headband, and are far more comfortable than conventional earphones. Plug them into your iPod, phone or MP3 player and you can drift off to sleep while listening to soothing music, audio books or meditations. SleepPhones block out surrounding noise in comfort – because they lie flat against the head within the fleecy, cushioned headband, you can lie down while wearing them – unlike conventional earphones that dig in or fall out. As SleepPhones are made with lead-free components and Polartec recycled plastic fleece, they're eco-friendly too. Download the free SleepPhones app, offering several relaxation tracks – or use your own meditations or music to ensure a sound night's sleep.
This is the fastest acting and most effective insect spray we've tried, providing immediate relief for the infuriating itching that's caused by midge or mosquito bites – and also helping to prevent infection and reduce swelling. It's a totally natural and cruelty-free plant-based formula – part of the Weleda Natural First Aid Kit – and is suitable for vegans. Weleda has excellent sustainability policies – their products are made using organic, fairly-traded raw materials, water and energy are used efficiently, and their practices work to support and preserve biodiversity.
Essential when planning your route – before and during your trip – a decent map should be top of most travellers list of must-pack items. Whether you're planning a road trip or rail journey, Michelin maps will give you an overview of a country or region to help work out an itinerary. And once on the road, the up-to-date, clear and accurate mapping should ensure you never get lost. Easy to fold up and pack away, these maps take up little room in your luggage.
Carrying an umbrella with you is a sensible idea wherever you're travelling. Rain showers can strike almost anywhere, so it's best to be prepared – and Fulton has made this especially easy with their aptly named Tiny umbrella. At as little as 150g it's incredibly light and compact and will fit in the smallest of bags, while barely adding to your luggage weight allowance. Even though it's so lightweight, it copes well with windy conditions. Available in a range of gorgeous designs, as well as plain black, navy and red, the Tiny umbrella comes with a matching case. Don't leave home without it!
These super-soft and extremely comfortable Ladies Softop socks come in a range of beautiful colours and are perfect for travelling in. The unique, non-elastic tops avoid constriction around the leg and ankle, so avoiding problems with circulation restriction – important if you're flying. The socks are held up using three ingenious panels – they stay put without leaving unsightly marks on your legs after wearing them. The cotton-rich yarn is breathable and keeps feet comfortable and cool in warmer weather too. Softop socks are available in a range of colours for men too – and if flying long haul, a pair of Flysafe Compression socks will help increase blood flow to the heart, making your journey more healthy.
These tiny pots of natural first aid salves will cover all minor emergencies, from scrapes, sprains and scalds to insect bites and cold sores. They're made from natural ingredients, can be applied to any part of the body, including hands, face and scalp, and are suitable for babies and children. The set contains one each of lavender, arnica, tea tree and calendula and comfrey. We particularly like the lavender rescue salve. It can be used as a lip salve for dry lips, clears up patches of dry skin – including eczema – and it smells divine!
We love solid shampoos – they're brilliant for travelling as they take up less space and weight than conventional shampoo bottles, with no risk of spillages. JR Liggett's shampoo bars are a sound ecological choice as they're made with totally natural oils – including olive oil and coconut oil – with no added chemicals such as artificial colourants and fragrances. And the recyclable cardboard won't add to landfill like a standard plastic shampoo bottle. The bars last for ages – the 3.5oz bar will easily see you through a fortnight's holiday – and they leave hair clean, soft and tangle-free. As an added bonus they can be used on body and face too. They can even be used to wash clothes! Two travel packs are available: the Mini Traveller, with 4 mini shampoo bars in different fragrances in a handy zip up pouch; and the EZ Pouch which contains a full sized Original Formula bar in a water-repellant pouch.
Our favourite facial moisturising cream is rich and hydrating, without feeling greasy or oily – and it comes in a handy 30ml tube that's ideal for travelling. Weleda Almond soothing facial cream is perfect for sensitive skin – it soothes dry or irritated skin that's been exposed to the elements, with a slight cooling effect as it's applied. It also reduces redness and leaves skin feeling smooth and silky. It can be used as a day or night cream – and it's a good idea to pack a tube in your hand luggage, to relieve dehydrated skin in-flight. Weleda products come in sustainable packaging and are produced using organic ingredients.
Green Adventures May 2016
What are your must-have travel items? We check out some great travel gear to make life on the road that bit easier
Anyone who's ever owned a Buff will know what a useful travel accessory it is. This unique, lightweight, seam-free tube can be worn as a scarf, face mask (great in dusty conditions), headscarf, bandana or beanie – in fact there are 13 different ways you can wear it. The merino wool Buff is made from natural, sustainable resources with minimal environmental impact. It's very soft and comfortable and is suitable for hot or cold conditions, protecting heads, necks and faces from sun and wind. Buffs are designed to wick moisture away from the body – and the merino wool Buff also offers natural odour prevention. Great for hiking and biking – this Buff will keep you warm when you need it but without causing overheating.