A person holding a map in a car, seeking sustainable travel tips.

7 Tips to Travel Zero Waste

I have a serious obsession with travelling. For me, it’s something I am always thinking about—I am constantly planning my next trip. I know I’m not alone in this—studies have shown that more and more millennials are the “travel generation”. We choose to invest more in experiences versus anything else. Our love of travelling has pushed the popularity of #vanliving and minimalism. About a year ago I decided I was going to start living a zero waste lifestyle to reduce my ecological footprint. However, right after I committed myself to this change, I also committed myself to do a bunch of travelling. I was so nervous about maintaining my new lifestyles simultaneously. Surprisingly, it was easy! Here are my tips for maintaining your zero waste lifestyle while travelling.

1. Download all of your boarding passes/tickets onto your phone

This one is not only a time-saver as it also saves paper, most of which are not recyclable. Most airlines and trains have a downloadable ticket when you purchase online, which if we are being honest most of us shop/purchase online anyway. When you download it to your phone you ensure that you have it and you aren’t making extra waste.

2. Have your reusable water bottle/coffee cup handy

One of my major travel tips is to stay hydrated. When I travel I often leave my hotel or Airbnb in the morning and don’t come back till late. I like to be out in the action exploring whatever place I am in, which means I need to have a great portable water bottle. My go to is an insulated bottle that keeps my water cold and my coffee hot. When you are travelling having something that can transition from beverage to beverage makes it easy to refuse disposable single-use products, like water bottles or coffee cups.

3. A stainless steel to-go container

Similar to my first tip this is a travel must for someone trying to be zero waste: bring a to-go container. I love having one small or medium-sized to-go container with me at all times while travelling. For plane rides, I can pack up zero waste healthy snacks or meals in them, and then once I reach my destination I can then use that container to take any leftovers back to my hotel. Another thing I do when I have a container is to go and grab pastries that I can have at my hotel for early mornings or late night snacks.

4. Travel like a local/Shop like a local

One of my favourite things to do when travelling is acting like I live there. Meaning I scout out local markets, like farmers’ markets or flea markets. By shopping at the farmers’ markets I am able to get food or snacks that I can have while travelling and avoid any plastic packaging. While on the subject of unnecessary plastic and market shopping—when I shop at flea markets, I can find memorable souvenirs without buying cheap plastic souvenirs that I’ll end up forgetting about in a few years.

5. Shampoo and lotion jars

If you are trying to travel minimally and eco-friendly, I would highly recommend finding a shampoo bar you like. Shampoo and lotion bars are a solid form of our beauty staples. Shampoo bars are a great zero waste option for your bathroom, in general, but for travelling it’s the best go to. You don’t have to worry about liquid restrictions, a bulky bottle taking up space, or messy explosion ruining your travel plans or your planned outfits. Lotion bars are pretty much the same and again you can avoid any mess and plastic.

6. Reusable straw and cutlery set

Although many larger cities and countries are banning plastic straws, that ban won’t be fully implemented until at least 2020. Many coffee shops and restaurants still automatically give you a plastic straw. The best way to combat this excess unwarranted trash is to bring your own reusable straw and request “no straw” before you are given one. One of my personal favourite things to do when travelling is to plan a picnic in a park or near a local landmark. This is where your to-go box and reusable cutlery comes in. You can get food to-go or pack yourself a picnic with your farmers market food and enjoy!

7. Find alternative modes of transportation when you’re exploring

One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to wander throughout the city I’m in. Normally I walk most places around town, but I also like to take the bus or metro in a city to get to further off locations. Walking, public transportation, and riding a bike are all ways to make your way through a city without contributing to extra pollution!

Safe and Happy travels!

Credit photo: Julentto  — thank you.

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