The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Travel

Hi, beginners to zero waste travel! If, like me, you hate to see plastic on your hikes or beaches, then zero waste is just what you’re looking for. Here’s the thing. It’s not super easy to get into. I don’t claim to be perfect, but there are a couple of things that we can all do to reduce the amount of plastic and waste when we travel. Check out my guide to slow travel for even more eco-travel tips. 

To get started, follow our beginner’s friendly ultimate guide to zero waste travel. We’ve got all the practical tips and essential items you need to reduce your plastic. 

Best 5 zero waste tips 

There are only three things you need to remember about being zero waste – reduce, reuse, recycle. As long as you stick to that motto as much as you can, you’ll be helping out the environment a ton. But we’ve put together 5 beginner friendly tips to help you out. 

Unplug it all!

Even when your devices are switched off, they can suck up energy while they’re still plugged in. Rip out those plugs before you jump out the door and your next energy bill will be a breeze. 

Go paperless 

One easy way to reduce paper waste is to download the airline app and get tickets sent to your phone instead. It definitely beats rooting around in your bag for papers too. If you can, return maps and leaflets to tourist offices to reuse as well. 

Go through your fridge 

About a day or two before you set out on your next trip, double check your kitchen. See if any perishable foods can be stored in the freezer. See if you can use up what can’t go in the freezer before you leave. And, trust me, you’ll be happy to have an organised kitchen and clean fridge when you get back. 

Stay in green accommodation

It’s much easier to be zero waste when your hotel has a recycling centre and water fountain. Some green campsites even have composting facilities. 

Buy second hand gear 

One of the major parts to being zero waste is reusing old stuff instead of buying new. If you can get a nice suitcase or camping gear second hand, then buy that instead. You’ll probably be saving a bit of cash too. 

5 Essential zero waste travel items 

Now you’ve got the basics down, you can start digging into your travel bag. When you pack your suitcase, how much waste will you be leaving behind? While you could grab a zero waste kit off Etsy and call it a day, the thing is that most of the time you only need a few swaps to get your waste down to 0. Don’t worry about buying the latest zero waste gadget – just focus on the essentials. 

Reusable bag 

Basic, but so necessary. When you’re out shopping at the local market or out hiking, an extra bag is just what you need. It saves you getting some extra plastic bags in stores as well. 

Reusable water bottle 

Buying a reusable water bottle doesn’t just save you money. Plastic water bottles take around 450 years to decompose in landfill. Reusable water bottles are easier to buy than ever. Still, if you can’t get one or accidentally leave it at home then just refill a plastic water bottle instead of buying a new one when you can. 


When you’re on the go, it’s easy to grab food from market stalls and takeout. One easy way to reduce your waste is to turn down the plastic cutlery. Instead, bring your own bamboo cutlery and metal straws with you on your trip. 

Soap bars

There’s nothing worse than trying to squeeze in your shampoo and conditioner bottles into your suitcase. Soap bars are way easier to carry around and reduce your plastic use. I recommend picking up a soap dish/tin too! 

Collapsible travel cup 

Single use coffee cups really are a waste. But while some of the reusable coffee cups out there are useful, they’re not always easy to fit into your backpack. The collapsible travel mugs are easier to use with all the same benefits.

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