8 great eco-conscious items for traveling with kids

Taking care of the environment is something a lot of people are interested in doing, and often it seems to be even more true for kids. Like many other parents, I try to discuss these issues with my kids and make them aware of how we can try to make better choices for the environment.

Here are some suggestions of travel gear that is both useful and ecologically friendly.

1. A water bottle
This is a big one. Instead of buying bottles of water, you can just refill one of these, and reduce how much money you spend, and how much garbage you throw away (it's not always easy to find recycling bins at airports!). Just remember that if you're traveling by plane, you might not be able to bring a refillable water bottle through security unless it's empty.

2. Something to clean your water
In some countries, the tap water is not always safe to drink, and you might end up buying a lot of bottled water instead. However, there are some nifty gadgets on the market that can help you "clean" the water and make it safe for drinking. One is the SteriPEN. This portable little device uses 4 AA batteries and ultra-violet light to kill bacteria and other harmful things in water. To quote the manufacturer's website: "SteriPEN eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause Traveler’s Diarrhea. Disinfect fresh (non-salt) water or bottled water in any country." A product with a very similar purpose is the Purificup, which uses a built-in filter to make your water safe to drink.

3. Reusable snack containers
Packing your own snacks for a trip is a great way to save money, and to bring snacks you know your kids will like. It can also be a good way to bring healthier snacks than the salty and sweet stuff that can be found in convenience stores. I like the Lock N' Lock containers, but there are many other kinds that you can use.

4. Rechargeable batteries for travel
At home, we use rechargeable batteries almost exclusively. However, it's not always easy to do that when you're traveling, since you'll need a recharger that is compatible with the electrical outlets where you're traveling to. One solution: batteries that can be recharged in a USB-port.

5. A solar charger
Many of us travel with a lot of different electronic gadgets these days, from phones and tablets, to handheld games and laptops. One great way to power up those devices, is a solar charger. There are lots of different ones on the market, and they can really help you stay connected and fully charged on your trip.

6. Reusable containers for toiletries
Instead of buying new, tiny bottles of products like soap, shampoo, body lotion, and so on, it makes a lot more sense to just keep some travel-sized containers around and fill them up with your usual products. Lots of companies and stores sell these kinds of containers, but one really ingenious one is Toothpaste2Go, which makes it possible for you to make your own, reusable travel-sized tube of toothpaste!

7. Eco-friendly bags
Taking the ecologically friendly idea a step further, you can also look for bags and suitcases made from recycled or more "earth-friendly" materials. Lots of bags are now manufactured from recycled materials, like this diaper bag, this camera bag, and luggage set.

8. Eco-friendly clothing
Several clothing manufacturers now offer clothes for both kids and adults that uses recycled material and materials that are more "sustainable". For example, there are UV-protective shirts, fleece sweaters, and jackets.

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