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When we travel, we do it to experience new things, explore exciting destinations, and share an adventure with our friends. While traveling enriches our lives and broadens our horizons, we still need to ensure we're not doing any great damage to the environment. Travelers who don't think in advance end up producing a lot of waste, especially plastics. This is a harmful process and it takes the planet ages to recover.

We can, however, make things better if we plan in advance. Striving to travel with zero waste should be the goal of as many travelers as possible. This article will help you learn how to travel producing zero waste and what to pack for your zero-waste trip.

Let’s take a closer look.

A Reusable Water Bottle

Water is a bare necessity and that’s why it’s on top of this list. We all have to drink water while we travel and this can produce a huge amount of plastic waste.

So, instead of buying bottled water for every day of your travel, you should focus on using a single reusable water bottle and refilling it.

This will:

  • completely reduce the plastic waste you’d generate by buying bottled water

  • help you develop the habit of always refilling your bottle

If you're in a country where the water is not potable, you'll have to walk the extra mile. Ask the people in a restaurant what water they use to cook and ask if they can refill. You can give them a small tip for the service.


When you travel, you're often in a situation when you have to eat on the go. In these cases, street restaurants usually provide plastic utensils.

The plastic spoon, knife, or fork that you use for a single meal ends up as waste after no more than 30 minutes of you using them.

It is a shame to produce this kind of a waste when you can simply pack your own utensils:

  • they’re light

  • they’re reusable

  • you know they’re clean

Make sure you emphasize you don't want any utensils because if they hand them to you, they'll think of it as used and have to discard the trash.

Cloth Bags

Traveling usually requires a lot of shopping, packing for a day-long journey, and carrying some essential stuff around.

All of the above means you need a bag.

“We all know how bad plastic bags are for the environment. They take hundreds of years to decompose, but in the meantime, they harm the wildlife, the soil, and nature in general,”

says Marie Fincher, a head of content at Trust My Paper and Grab My Essay and travel blogger.

To avoid producing plastic bags waste, you need to:

  • pack a couple of cloth bags

  • carry at least one with you at all times

  • completely avoid using plastic bags

Cloth bags are light and you can fold them easily, so they’ll fit any bag that you may be carrying.


Plastic straws are another huge enemy of our planet. We use them for no more than 15 minutes but they end up as waste lasting for years.

If you enjoy straws that much, you should pack a reusable straw and carry it with you. Still, you need to:

  • tell each waiter that you don’t want a straw

  • learn how to say this in the local language

  • show the waiter your reusable straw and explain you don’t want their straw

  • ask all your friends to join

A single traveler can waste more than 20 straws on a 7-day trip. Imagine how much plastic waste is produced like this daily.

Don’t be a part of it and avoid straws completely.

Food Containers

When you’re trying to avoid producing waste, you have to think about the way you handle your food. 

When you order food or you’re buying groceries in the shop or deli, you often get food in small plastic boxes that you throw away immediately after you take the food out.

Instead of this, you could carry food containers and have your food packed directly into those.

You can choose:

  • Tupperware

  • stainless steel

  • glass  

Choose the best option for your needs and carry your food in this. Also, use them to pack your leftovers and reduce throwing food away.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Plastic toothbrushes are history. You don’t want to produce more plastic waste than you have to, so for your next trip go for an alternative.

Bamboo toothbrushes are the best option for zero waste traveling (and for your everyday life as well). Here’s why:

  • they’re biodegradable

  • they’re not toxic

  • you can compost most of them

  • they’re sustainable

Estelle Leotard, an eco-activist and writer at Studicus and Wow Grade agrees:

“I started using a bamboo toothbrush last summer, on my trip to Bali. I never stopped and now my whole family uses them. This reduces our plastic waste production by miles.”

Menstrual Cup

There has been a revolution in feminine products in the last couple of years.

Pads and tampons are slowly being replaced by a much better and more sustainable product, the menstrual cup.

Here’s what makes it great:

  • it helps you stay zero waste because it’s reusable

  • it’s cheaper than pads and tampons

  • it’s more comfortable

  • it’s easy to pack

So, not only will you be producing less waste, but you’ll also save money and have more free space in your luggage.

If you still haven’t tried it, go ahead and do it. it won’t disappoint you.

Final Thoughts

Traveling is an amazing experience, but only if we stay selfless and think of others while doing it. Zero-waste traveling is something we all should be doing, and with the right guidance, you can do it too.

Use the advice above to pack for your next zero-waste travel and enjoy your trip more than ever.

Kristin Savage

Kristin nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at BestEssayEducation. Kristin runs her own FlyWriting blog.

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