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Zero-Waste Items You Need to be Traveling With

by Amanda Smith

Whether you are planning a solo backpacking trip in the wilderness, going on a family vacation, or taking a much needed tropical vacation, low waste traveling is 100% possible. You might be thinking, “Why would you need specific things to travel with?”, but there are a lot of times we don’t realize how much waste we produce while traveling. Between those early morning coffee runs prior to catching a flight, to forgetting your toiletries and having to buy some on the go, traveling can produce unexpected and wasteful purchases. If you’re looking to travel more sustainably, then prep your carry-on with these traveling essentials and the planet with thank you.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle

This is a given when it comes to living sustainably, but so effective. Bring your own reusable water bottle. Of course, you can’t bring water through TSA, but most airports have water refilling stations near the gates, so you’re free to bring an empty bottle through and then fill up for the flight. Stainless steel in particular is great for keeping your drinks cold or hot for extended periods of time and a vacuum seal feature allows you to toss your bottle headfirst into your backpack without spilling or leaking. I love traveling with this because I do get really thirsty on planes and like to stay hydrated (you do know planes are incredibly dehydrating, right?!). To top it off, it also saves me money on drinks at restaurants or over-priced airport stands.

Collapsible Silicone Coffee Cup

I never thought in my low-waste journey I would want a collapsible coffee cup – I thought to myself, “I have mason jars, I have reusable water bottles, I don’t need it!” While that is 100% true and you should never buy something you don’t need (rule #1 in sustainability!), I learned that I had fundamental differences with these methods. I always hated how hot the glass of my mason jar would get with coffee in it, or I would have to dump out my water to use my bottle for coffee. So after many months of back and forth, I bought a collapsible silicone coffee cup, and let me tell you, it changed my traveling game. Mine came with a hook so it takes 0 space in my bag. It can be easily washed in any public bathroom, and it keeps my coffee hot while I’m on the go. Happy sipping!

Bamboo Utensils

Most people who travel spend a lot of time eating out (if not all the time), and chances are you don’t always get the most sustainable options for utensils. Because yummy food is a part of the experience of traveling, make it a little bit safer for the planet by opting to bring your own reusable utensils. You can purchase bamboo utensil sets online or make up a set yourself from some of the silverware you have at home, just wrap it in a reusable cloth and you’re good to go. I love my bamboo utensil kit because it’s lightweight, easy to clean on the go, and of course, cuts my plastic consumption down immensely.

Shopping Tote Bag

At this point, almost everyone probably owns some kind of reusable shopping bag. That’s great! Pack that in your carry-on. Why? Because when you’re out and about shopping or picking up groceries on your trip, it’s a great way to say no to single-use plastic bags while away from home. Not every state, country, or city has banned the use of plastic bags yet, so it’s an awesome way to be prepared for anything and save some waste in the process. My favorite kinds are from Baggu (which is now available on Amazon for my obsession to grow exponentially. because they fold up in a way that barely takes up room, are super light-weight, and carry a ton of stuff in it. Whatever extra bag you have is just fine and you’ll be so proud walking out of any store with your new purchases in it.

Metal Straws

This is one of those easy, instant swaps that cut your plastic consumption and waste down immediately. You should really always carry a few metal straws in your backpack or purse, but in case that’s not your vibe, definitely pack them for your trip. You will find, more often than not, that plastic straws are everywhere and you may just grab one without thinking about it. What’s great is that they are really inexpensive, easy to clean on the go, light-weight, and don’t take up much room. Did you know that eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year and plastic straws take up 0.025 percentage of that? Save the turtles, the sea, the beaches and the rest of the planet by simply saying no to plastic straws – it’s a step in the right direction.

Cloth Napkins

This is probably the last thing on your mind when thinking about what to pack on your trip, but it comes in handy in a lot of ways. Cut down your paper consumption by just packing a few cloth napkins. You can even cut up some old tees or sheets to save a few buck, too. It’s great for eating on the go, taking make-up off, acting as a cleaning towel, a sweat rag on the go, placemat for those tiny airplane trays, handkerchief, warm or cold rag if you’re feeling under the weather, and so much more. You’ll be amazed at the number of uses a few cloth napkins can do and how much less waste you’ll be producing by packing them in your carryon.

Reusable Food Containers

Although this does take up some space in your carryon or checked bag, it’s extremly helpful for those who never finish all their food when they eat out. If you’re concerned about them taking up too much space, stuff the containers with toiletries during travel and use them during your trip to save leftover food. It saves money (get a second meal out of the first) and saves food waste – two in one! I personally love this one from Amazon because it’s leakproof, microwave safe, and has tiny compartments for sides!

Low-Waste Toiletries

An easy way to cut back on plastic consumption, wasteful products, and extra spending, is by packing low-waste toiletries yourself. There are so many fun DIY’s on the internet for shampoo, conditioner, face wash, toothpaste, deodorant, and body lotions out there, there’s no reason to buy some during your trip. Cut out all the excess packaging, toxic chemicals, and impulse to buy toiletries on the go by making some of your own in travel size containers. Of course, make sure to test them out before your trip to prevent any irritations, and make only the amount that you need. If you happen to have your period (or might have your period) during your trip, pack a reusable silicone menstrual cup. You’ll be thankful you brought everything you needed, didn’t harm the environment, and saved money along the way. If you have no idea where to start, you can watch my personal IGTV video where I show you how to make some of these products yourself!

Bringing all these items will help to immensely cut back your plastic consumption, waste, and extra spending while you are traveling. You can travel with ease knowing that you are making more mindful decisions for yourself and the planet and have more space mentally to enjoy your new experiences. So get on that plane, train, car or hike and see all that life has to offer. I’ll be there with you in spirit, clinking our water bottles in celebration! Let us know down below other ways you guys travel low waste! We would love to hear from you!

Feature Image via Victoria Morris

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