The words “houseplants” and “frequent traveler” don’t often go hand-in-hand.
As a travel blogger, I used to think that my dream of living in a jungle-like oasis was simply out of reach, because I’d be gone far too frequently to take care of my houseplants.
But like many people, I overestimated just how much attention plants actually need. Most people actually overwater their plants rather than underwater their plants.
While there are a few fussy plants out there (looking you, you dramatic ass heart leaf fern who feigned death after a 2.5-day trip), there are many plants that prefer no fuss and just a little water from time to time.
Frankly, there are very few plants out there who can’t hang with a week’s absence.
Personally, I only check my plants on a weekly basis, unless I notice signs of thirst (which is rare). Even on my weekly check-ins, it’s rare that I need to water all 50+ plants I currently own.
Which is good because that would take forever.
So if you’re a frequent traveler who has been putting off buying your dream plants because you’re afraid you’ll kill them all, you’re in luck: this post is for you!
I’ve tried and tested some of the most low-maintenance houseplants and am here to share the best plants for frequent travelers.
The snake plant (Sansevieria, also sometimes called Dracaena trifasciata) is one of the hardiest, chillest plants around. Check out Snake Plants on Amazon here!
Also cheekily named mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant can handle a fair bit of neglect without much harm.
It doesn’t need a lot of light, either, so if natural light is at a premium in your apartment, the snake plant is usually fine in a less-bright corner of the house.
Low light doesn’t mean no light, though, so make sure it gets a bit of sunlight. It does need to photosynthesize, after all!
Another cool fact about snake plants is that they are air-purifying plants! They’ll help to keep the air in your home clean and easy-breathing… and look a lot prettier than an air filter!
While the snake plant can hang with many things you throw at it, one thing it doesn’t like is sitting in water. So resist the urge to dump a ton of water in it before you go on a trip.
Keep your snake plant in a well-draining pot. The nursery pot it came in is actually usually your best bet. You can then nest that nursery pot in a prettier ceramic pot.
When you water your snake plant, make sure you soak the water well, until water drains out of the holes of the nursery pot.
Allow it to continue draining for a few minutes, and then place it back in its decorative pot.
There are many kinds of snake plants, so you do have plenty of options! The most common kind you’ll see is the Sansevieria Trifasciata, but there are many other varieties of snake plant!
My personal favorites are the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Gold’ and the ‘Futura Superba’ which have some pretty variegation and markings.
How Often to Water Your Snake Plant
Most snake plants need very little water, making them the perfect plant for travelers. Water only when the soil is fully dry, the pot feels light when you lift it, and the leaves of the plant are not as firm as usual and may even droop slightly.
Typically, snake plants only need to be watered every two weeks in summer and as little as once a month in the winter.
However, it’s best to check that the plant is thirsty (by looking for the signs above) before watering it, even if your schedule says the plant may need water.
Some snake plants won’t even want more water for as much as 8 weeks!
Another powerhouse when it comes to tolerating neglect, the ZZ plant (proper name Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is thought of as virtually unkillable. Buy a ZZ Plant on Amazon here!
These semi-succulent plants are pretty hardy!
This plant is also known as a Zanzibar gem, as it is native to this beautiful Tanzanian island located off the coast of East Africa.
These plants are extremely drought-tolerant and can handle quite a bit of time between waterings, making them a great plant to gift a traveler!
The ZZ plant has glossy green leaves (or reddish black, in the case of the rarer ZZ Raven) that stand upright on stems and can grow up to 3 feet tall.
How Often to Water Your ZZ Plant
ZZ plants seem to thrive under a less watchful eye and need very little water to keep them going.
While they aren’t quite as neglect-tolerant as snake plants, ZZ plants can typically go up to a month without watering without seeing any ill effects.
Similar to the snake plant, water only when the soil fully dries out. You can tell by how heavy the pot feels when you lift it, or you can stick a finger or a chopstick into the dirt and see how dry it feels.
Signs that watering is needing include dropping leaves and browning leaf tips, but it’s better to catch it before then.
Another super hardy plant for travelers is the spider plant, another hard-to-kill plant that needs little water. Check out spider plants on Amazon here.
One of the coolest things about gifting a spider plant to a traveler is that they are, literally, the gift that keeps on giving!
Spider plants grow “pups” or little small plants that are connected to the mother plant: yes, they have little spider plant babies!
You can then grow these pups into full-grown spider plants to continue decorating your house or to give to other people in search of low-maintenance plants as a gift!
Spider plants are really hardy, especially once fully established. Baby spider plants will require more TLC than fully grown spider plants, so do keep this in mind when purchasing this plant.
How Often to Water Your Spider Plant
When spider plants are young (such as the “pups” they give off or when it is smaller than a 4″ pot), they generally need water once a week.
However, they can handle up to 10 days or so without water, depending on soil type and light it is receiving.
Once your spider plant is full grown, you can water less frequently, roughly once every 2-3 weeks (more often in summer, less often in winter).
Similar to the other plants on this list, only water it when the soil has fully dried out at least 2″ below the surface and the pot feels light when you lift it up.
This plant is literally nicknamed “the Devil’s Ivy” because it can handle just about anything you throw at it.
Crappy light? Whatever.
Underwatering? That’s fine.
Overwatering? Not that big a deal (just don’t allow it to get root rot sitting in its own water).
Your pothos just wants to grow and take over your home, and it kind of doesn’t care what you do in the meantime!
There are also so many beautiful kinds of pothos — from satin pothos to golden pothos to variegated types like pothos n’joy!
All of them make a lovely gift and are incredible difficult to kill, even if you leave for a few weeks at a time while traveling.
Pothos plants are also great because they trail down or can be trained to vine up a moss pole or trellis, and they grow very quickly!
How Often to Water Your Pothos
Pothos typically need to be watered roughly every 7-10 days in the summer and every 2-3 weeks in winter.
As with other plants, don’t water them on a schedule but by feel. The soil should be allowed to completely dry out and the pot should feel light when you lift it.
Most pothos can handle a fair bit of neglect and while you may have to clip off a few yellowed or browning leaves when you come back from a longer trip, the plant itself will remain intact.
String of Pearls
One of the most drought tolerant plants on this list, many people are surprised to see string of pearls on this list because they are thought of as easy-to-kill.
Well, I beg to disagree. String of pearls are hard to kill unless you overwater them…. which means they are the perfect houseplant for frequent travelers.
String of Pearls are a trailing succulent, so they crave well-draining soil and infrequent waterings…
But when you do water them, make sure to give them a nice and thorough soaking, and allow the water to run through the drainage holes thoroughly.
String of Pearls will also tell you when they want water, when their eponymous ‘pearls’ start to shrivel up a tad and feel a little sticky to the touch.
This does not mean your plant is dying — just that it’s telling you it’s thirsty!
NOTE: SOP come in both a normal green and a variegated version, and both are lovely and equally easy to care for!
How Often to Water Your String of Pearls
String of pearls are one of the plants that needs the least water on this list.
You can get away with watering string of pearls as little as once a month if you are keeping it inside.
In the summer, it may need water more like every 2-3 weeks, but in the winter, this may stretch out to 4-6 weeks.
As always, go by how the soil feels, how heavy the pot is, and also look for a small amount of shriveling on the pearls and/or a sticky feel to the pearls to know that it’s time to water.
String of Hearts
Another trailing succulent, String of Hearts is a beautiful fast-growing plant that thrives off of inattention.
Like String of Pearls, String of Hearts come in both a normal green and a variegated version with tones of pink and cream color.
There’s also a “Silver Glory” variety of this plant that is also stunning.
Luckily, all SOH plants are equally easy to care for!
Similar to String of Pearls, you’re far more likely to kill your String of Hearts from overwatering instead of underwatering!
That’s because all of these plants are succulents and have adapted to be able to store up water for long periods of time.
How Often to Water Your String of Hearts
Your String of Hearts will also tell you when it needs watering because its heart-shaped leaves will feel less firm to the touch and get a slightly wilted or deflated look to its leaves.
This is because the leaves store water in them so they will definitely start to lose their luster when they are in need of water.
However, again, this doesn’t mean the plant is dying but just that it needs a little TLC!
In the summer, it may need water more like every 2-3 weeks, but in the winter, this may stretch out to 4-6 weeks.
Always go by the soil feel and weight, as well as how the leaves feel and look, rather than watering on any strict schedule.
This fun-looking plant is a great houseplant gift for travelers because it’s basically the camel of houseplants: it stores excess water in its trunk to sip on as needed!
It’s an extremely drought-tolerant plant and will be happy only being watered once a month or so with very little adverse effect.
It’s also just plain cute and tropical!
If you’re giving it as a gift to a frequent traveler to tropical locations, it’ll be a nice little slice of the tropics they can keep in their home with very little maintenance required!
How Often to Water Your Ponytail Palm
In the summer, ponytail palm plants may need water as often as every two weeks, but in the winter, think more like once a month.
That said, ponytail palms are pretty forgiving, so if you give them a thorough watering before you travel (allowing the water to drain out the drainage holes so you don’t get root rot), a ponytail palm will generally survive up to a month without water no matter the time of year.
As always, checking the soil and weight of the pot is a better way to determine if your ponytail palm needs water than watering it on a strict schedule.
Allison is a recovering brown thumb turned helicopter plant mom. She lives in California and is currently working on turning her one-bedroom Oakland apartment into an indoor jungle.