Guide to Zero-Waste Travel: Discover These Easy Tips on How to Travel Sustainably

by Megan Kioulafofski
zero waste travel

Caring for our planet is more important than ever. That’s why we should try to travel sustainably wherever we can. Every day of your journey, you can make the choice to avoid plastic, reduce waste and minimise your carbon footprint.

You only have to open your news app or turn on the TV to witness our planet at the hands of single-use culture. Be part of the solution and explore this beautiful planet with these zero waste essentials. There’s nothing better than traveling the shores of new lands knowing you’re leaving no trace behind. Keep reading to discover our zero waste travel essentials and how to travel sustainably.


Why travel sustainably?

There are so many reasons to travel sustainably. Exploring this planet we call home is one of life’s greatest joys, so why wouldn’t we want to take care of it as we go? Avoiding single-use plastic is one of the first steps toward zero waste travel. Scientists believe 8 million pieces of plastic are entering the oceans every day. Plastic waste is spread all over the ocean, but there’s a particular problem in the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest dense area of plastic waste, about twice the size of Texas!

So, how does plastic end up in the ocean? Plastic is often blown from landfill or garbage trucks and into the waterways, this is particularly true for plastic bags and bottles as they are so lightweight. Many plastic products end up down the drain, either on purpose or by accident. And finally, litter can also find its way into sewers and rivers, all eventually ending up in the sea.

Zero waste travel isn’t just about avoiding single-use plastic. It’s also about making conscious decisions when making any kind of waste. Only purchase clothing you definitely need and avoid making food waste. Both of these small switches will help greatly when it comes to traveling sustainably!

christine and sarah from wellness travelled

Our friends Christine and Sarah from Wellness Travelled are experts in travelling sustainably, and have kindly shared with us some great tips to keep in mind for your next trip:

Go paperless

“Many airports offer paperless boarding passes – i.e. our fave airport, YYZ. We use this service whenever possible to cut back on our paper consumption. We also take screenshots on our phones of all our hotel and transportation reservations so that we don’t have to print those either.”

Don’t just jetset, offset!

“We carbon offset with Gold Standard. It is David Suzuki approved. They support renewable resource projects across the world instead of planting trees.”

BYOB (bring your own bag)

“Headed on a shopping spree in New York City or planning to visit some cool night markets? Bring a reusable bag (or 5) to avoid single-use plastic bags. Sol + Spirit reusable organic cotton bags are great if you’re buying fruit and veggies on your trip. Plus, if you’re going to certain countries like Australia, plastic bags are banned anyway, so be prepared :)”

bringing reusable bags to market while travelling

Such great tips! Check our their instagram page to follow their zero-waste adventures!

Zero waste travel essentials

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to travel sustainably. You don’t need to spend a fortune to stock up on these zero waste travel essentials before your big trip. Just make sure every purchase is a conscious one!

Solid toiletries

Not only are solid toiletries a fantastic way to minimise your single-use plastic, but they’re also much lighter and easier to travel with. If you’re packing light, or even with just a cabin bag, you don’t have to miss out on your favourite toiletries if you pack solid. Cruelty-free cosmetics company Lush boasts a wide range of solid products, including shampoo and condition bars. You can even get solid face oils and shower gels!

Pick up a handy tin and keep your products dry after use, you’ll be surprised to see how long these amazing items last. Never carry a heavy shampoo bottle again!


Bring your own utensils

When you’re traveling, you’ll want to tuck into all the local delicacies. Dodge the plastic knives and forks and pack your own. We recommend investing in a bamboo utensil set, as this is not only an eco-friendly alternative to plastic but it’s also light and perfect for zero waste travel.

Don’t forget that packing utensils doesn’t just mean knives and forks. Pick up a few stainless steel straws, you’ll be surprised at how often you use them! In fact, an estimated 500 million plastic straws are used in the USA every day. From cooling smoothies to tasty iced coffees, a special cocktail or even just cold water – there’s always use for a straw.

bamboo utencils

Reusable water bottle

This is another zero waste travel essential. Depending on your destination, tap water may not be suitable for drinking. By packing your own reusable water bottle, you can fill up from the filtered water system at your accommodation before heading out for a day exploring.

When it comes to choosing a reusable water bottle, always opt for a stainless steel canteen. This will keep your water cold while lasting the rough and tumble of travel. If you’re traveling to a hotter climate, invest in a double-walled bottle, such as a Hydro Flask, so you’ll always have a supply of fresh, cold water to hand as you travel sustainably.

woman holding resuable flask on beach

Tote bags

Whether you plan on shopping for souvenirs or simply need something to carry your shopping, you should always carry a tote bag or two. You never know when you might need a bag, and by carrying your own tote you’ll always be able to say no to plastic.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Did you know that there are alternatives to common plastic toothbrushes? Although you use them more than once, your toothbrushes could all end up in the same place – the ocean. One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the USA. Each plastic toothbrush can take hundreds of years to decompose, while an eco-friendly alternative such as bamboo can break down in a matter of a few years.

Bamboo toothbrushes are both cheap and easy to come by – there’s no excuse for not swapping out the plastic in favour of this planet-friendly open when planning to travel sustainably.

bamboo toothbrushes in a jar

Whether you’re planning a short city break or a round-the-world trip, take these simple steps to make sure you always travel sustainably. What are your zero waste travel essentials? Let us know in the comments below.

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