Preparing for an ecotour is different than packing for a basic trip to see relatives. In order to minimize the impact on the environment you are visiting, you should pack as responsibly as possible. At the same time, since ecotourism often involves spending a lot of time outdoors, you want to bring along items that will sufficiently protect you from the elements. With these ideas in mind, the following tips will help prepare you for your adventure:

Invest in re-usable plastic bags

When you are packing small containers of shampoo, toothpaste, lotion and the like, small Ziploc bags can really come in handy. Disposable plastic bags are also the bane of landfills, so in order to be as eco-friendly as possible, buy some re-usable plastic bags that you can bring back home with you. Reuseit has a great selection of reusable storage bags that are perfect for travel.

Bring along biodegradable soap

If where you’re staying doesn’t supply toiletries, consider bringing along your own environmentally friendly soap and shampoo. Dr. Bronner’s is a great choice and it comes in both bar and liquid forms in a bunch of lovely scents like Peppermint. In addition to being gentle on the local water system, Dr. Bronner’s multipurpose biodegradable soaps can be used for washing your hands, showering and for laundry. It even doubles as shampoo! The liquid form comes in bottles as small as 2 oz (perfect for traveling) or you can get a large bottle and fill your own travel-size bottles.

Keep your skin sunburn-free

To avoid a painful sunburn, pack plenty of sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or higher. We recommend choosing a chemical-free sun protector like Goddess Garden, an organic sunscreen that’s biodegradable and reef safe. Be sure to also bring a wide-brimmed hat, and some lightweight long-sleeved t-shirts and pants that will shield your skin from the sun.

Pack as few clothes as possible

Most people pack more than they need when going on vacation. To reduce the number of times you have to do laundry on your trip, bring along clothing that you can wear more than once; most pants, shorts and jackets can do double duty before needing to be laundered. This will also leave more room in your suitcase for bulkier items like hiking boots and extra socks.

Protect your eyes with new sunglass lenses

Chances are good you’ll be spending a great deal of your time outdoors, so you should take precautions to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun. Pack at least one pair of sunglasses, and prior to leaving make sure the lenses offer full UV protection. If you don’t want to bring a whole extra pair of sunglasses, think about ordering a spare pair of lenses  to avoid being stuck without shades in case your lenses break.

This post was written by Alison Stanton.  Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years and enjoys writing about a wide variety of travel-related topics.