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Ask a Pro: Upcycling Travel Items to Reduce Waste and Save Money

Ask a Pro: Upcycling Travel Items to Reduce Waste and Save Money

Ask a Pro: Upcycling Travel Items to Reduce Waste and Save Money

Ask a Pro: Upcycling Travel Items to Reduce Waste and Save Money

Shopping gratification has never been so instant, especially when it comes to travel items. We often shop and buy gear online, close in to travel when, in a panic, we realize that some of our essentials are broken or out of date. Or, we begin buying things that we didn’t realize we needed (or even existed!) because Amazon, Facebook, or Google found out we’re going away and starts suggesting the latest consumer inventions. Then, when we actually embark on our travel, there’s the shopping that goes along with that. Who can resist the spoon rest at the craft fair that doesn’t match anything else in your kitchen or the tchotchke you think you’ll look at on your work desk every day as a reminder of why you’re in the office in the first place?

Ultimately, we end up buying a lot of sometimes pricey new gear that end up being uni-taskers or forgotten – otherwise known as a waste of money. And as everyone is looking to reduce clutter, whether it’s Marie Kondo’s KonMari or Swedish death cleaning style, as well as being more kind with our travel – including to our environment by reducing waste and material consumerism – upcycling is something we should all be getting on board with.

To help us get started on how to give goods a second life, we Ask a Pro: Nicole Suydam, President and CEO of

What is upcycling?

There’s been a lot of chatter on online discussion boards about this keyword. But what does it actually mean? According to Suydam, “Upcycling is a form of creative reuse. It’s taking something you have, and instead of throwing it away, transforming it into another object.” This can be as simple as taking a uni-tasking item, such as a coffee mug, and turning it into a pen cup for your desk, or as crafty and laborious as taking a discarded door and turning it into … well, a desk!

Why should we upcycle?

On a personal level, “Upcycling is incredibly fulfilling in the sense that it creates opportunity for creativity – something that can be easily lost in our fast-moving culture,” Suydam says. “DIY projects take time and become part of your, so seeing the finished piece is incredibly rewarding.”

Suydam adds, as ALG Vacations® continues to lean into being kind with our travel, “Consumerism is a leading contributor to global warming, so being able to take what you already have and repurpose it into something of greater value is beneficial for our planet and holds a collective joy of making a change.” encourages both with campaigns like #CreateOpportunity, which “introduces a space for creators to be inspired by the efforts of each other, and in turn, want to upcycle their own products while helping individuals through [their] mission of helping people through the power of work,” she says, referencing the fact that more than 90% of the purchase price of products resold through her organization go back into the seller’s local community in support of job placement programs.

Who should upcycle?

Everybody! There’s no reason why something you purchased should be limited to one use and one time, and that includes travel gear. And those traveling on a budget should definitely look into upcycling and buying pre-loved, typically expensive gear like suitcases – those funds are far better allocated toward excursions and experiences, after all!

“ is home to thousands of items that are perfect for vacation and travel, whether it be a suitcase, beach toys, or a relaxing book. Shopping secondhand for these products helps massively, not only on an environmental level, but also a financial one!” Suydam says. “My personal favorite is finding empty sunglass cases off and using them as a travel sewing kit or travel first-aid kit. Personally, I use them on the beach to hold my jewelry, lip balm, and extra cash.”

What about souvenirs?

“Upcycling souvenirs can be a great way to express creativity and a fun way to remember your vacation,” Suydam says. Instead of throwing away tchotchkes that have become clutter, there are great ways to give them purpose other than just décor. Some ideas Suydam shares (and we expand on!) include:

  • Turning vintage postcards into wall art. Assemble similar ones for cool collages!
  • Using vintage postcards as unique wedding or party invitations. Plus, you’ll save on postage!
  • Cutting unique quilts up to use the material for a makeup bag
  • Filling a jar with homemade wax for a custom candle
  • Putting shells or small knickknacks into a shadow box for a gallery wall

Any ideas on how to use travel gear outside of travel?

Just because something is designed for travel doesn’t mean it should be reserved for those special occasions! Here are a few things we suggest:

  • Make your travel duffel your gym bag. Those different compartments can come in really handy, and they’re built for wear, tear, and other abuse!
  • Filling an unused suitcase as your seasonal clothes storage instead of buying bins
  • Putting your travel accessories, like neck pillows, packing cubes, and more, into one large suitcase for one-stop packing
  • Using vacuum packing bags to compress and store seasonal bulky clothing, like sweaters
  • Keeping your neck pillow in the car for long drives

In all of these ways, we can help to cut our own costs and reduce waste, all of which help us to #travelkind.

We all know how important it is to Plan with a Pro when it comes to travel. After all, Travel Advisors Get You There. But equally important is making sure advisor pros are supported and surrounded by pros themselves, particularly when it comes to topics peripheral to travel. That’s where TravelBlogue comes in as we Ask a Pro on your behalf to provide you with tips and advice from fitness, health, nutrition, mental health, beauty, wellness, and travel gear experts from around the world … and put it all at advisor fingertips.


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