Zero Waste Travel | 6 Tips For The Conscious Traveller

zero waste travel

Zero waste travel is not as far-fetched as you may think.
Yes - you'll most likely be catching a plane to your destination. And yes, there's no doubt you will given plastic straws in your drink.
But, it's not all disheartening.
There are many decisions and steps you can take to lessen your environmental impact.
From off-setting your flight emissions, to bringing your pack of reusable straws - zero waste travel is possible.

What is Sustainable Travel?

couple hiking

It's safe to say that international travel and tourism has sky rocketed in the past decade. This has been both good and bad.
Good - it provides jobs, improves livelihoods, boosts spending on infrastructure.
Bad - Unfortunately, the environmental and social cost is enormous.
Travelling doesn't have to be a burden on our planet, we can travel - but we need to do it more consciously.
Sustainable travel involves valuing and respecting the environment and natural resources.
We, as travellers need to be looking after our natural resources.
We need to be more aware of our CO2 emissions caused by our travel, the places we choose to stay and the plastic waste we leave behind.
The responsibility to travel the world in a sustainable way lies with us.

1. Choose a conscious way of transport

couple on a bike

Let's face it - travelling uses energy. But, there are way to limit our footprint whilst on the road. In our dream world, there'd be zero

Here are a few practical actions you can take to limit your carbon footprint:

  • Walking - Walking is low-impact and burns calories (energy). It's a win-win.

Eco-tip: Opt for free walking tours whilst travelling and see the sites by foot!


  • Driving - Cars (unless electric) operate on fossil fuels. If you need to grab a car, there are ways to minimise your footprint...

Eco-tip: Opt for ride-share services such as Uber or share a hire car or taxi with someone.


  • Flying -  Air travel has a huge carbon footprint. If you're feeling bad about having to fly, you're not alone.


  1. Fly most direct if possible. This will result in using less fuel, meaning less fossil fuels required.
  1. Do your research and find out which airline is best for carbon emissions.
  1. When booking your ticket, you will most likely see an option to offset the emissions of your flight. If not, you can calculate the cost of offsetting your emissions with organisations such as Green Tripper .


If you are flying here are some zero waste flight tips

reusable cup in hand

You may be wondering if a zero waste flight is even possible? Hell yeah! There are plenty of ways to cut back on back for a more sustainable, greener journey. 

  • Go paperless

Avoid all unnecessary print outs and download your boarding pass to your phone before heading off.

  • Prepare snacks for the flight

Pretty much all snacks served on flights and in the airports are wrapped in single-use plastic. To travel zero waste, bring your own snacks. Filling your produce bags with pastries, sandwiches, fruit or nuts are a great way to travel zero waste.

  • Bring your reusables

Avoid buying bottled water at the airport by bringing your own reusable water bottle. Most airports have water filling stations (just make sure it's empty when going through the security check). Reusable bamboo cutlery is lightweight and a great alternative to single-use plastic cutlery. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Make sure you bring your reusable cup. Avoid the plastic cups on the plane or at the airport.

  • Wear layers

Blankets and pillows offered on flights generally come wrapped in single-use plastic. Wear comfortable layers or bring your own cozy scarf to use as a blanket and avoid the unnecessary waste.

2. Stay in Eco Accommodation

balcony overlooking forest

One of the best ways to travel zero waste and reduce your carbon footprint whilst travelling is opting for eco accommodation.

Eco accommodation comes in many different forms. From eco hotels, eco resorts, green hotels and eco lodges to eco glamping. These places have green practices in place. Meaning they may only use renewable sources for their energy or run environment conservation projects or they are plastic-free. Great right?

So, how do we find eco accomodation?

This website has a great range of eco accomodation. EcoBnB categorises the accomodation into levels of eco (based on how many principles and criteria they meet).


If you're looking for something a little more special and luxurious - look no further.  Green Pearls is for you!


World Wide Organisation of Organic Farming (WWOOF) is an online platform that connects travellers and volunteers to organic farms around the world. Stay for free and volunteer your time!

3. Reduce Waste Whilst Travelling

6 r's of zero waste, rethink, refuse. reuse, reduce, recycle, repair

There's no denying it - travelling can present huge challenges in achieving zero waste. But, thanks to the 6 R's of zero waste and sustainability, we can achieve it with these small steps and actions.

  1. Rethink

The first step in the 6 R's of zero waste and sustainability is to stop and think about what you're buying and using. Do you really need it? If you're buying a souvenir, can you spend a little more money and opt for the eco-friendly gift without waste? Rethink your decisions and how you travel.

  1. Refuse

Say see ya single-use plastics and hello to reusables! Refuse plastic bags, straws, cutlery and bottles whilst on the move. If you're ordering a smoothie out, remember to ask for no straw. Bring your own reusable bamboo straw and sip sustainably.

  1. Reuse

By reusing items, you are extending the life of them and preventing them going to landfill. If you're given a jar, cloth or something else on your journey, find a way to reuse it.

  1. Reduce

Reduce your waste on your next trip by avoiding the cheap souvenirs and gifts. Spend a little more and buy consciously.

  1. Recycle

If you can, please reuse. But, if you need to recycle ask a local to find a recycling station.

  1. Repair

Your favourite top broke whilst on your trip? We get it, it happens. But, don't make waste by throwing it out where it will head straight to landfill. Fix it. Find a local tailor and get it repaired.

4. Pack Zero Waste Travel Essential Items

reusable bamboo straws and bamboo cutlery on a table with food

To be a conscious traveller and travel zero waste, you have to be prepared. Here are our favourite travel essentials to avoid waste on the road:

    • Reusable bamboo cutlery set
    • Reusable coffee cup
    • Reusable organic cotton produce bag to buy fruit & snacks on the go
    • Reusable food containers or bento boxes
    • Reusable zip locks to use for snacks on the go


    5. Pack your Conscious Traveller Toiletries  

    bamboo toothbrushes

    Regardless of what type of travel you are engaging in, toiletries are always a must - we gotta keep ourselves clean right?
    But, everyday toiletries can pose a threat to our environment.
    From the plastic packaging to harsh ingredients going down the sink, ending up in the ocean - we need to be more conscious of the products we use.
    It doesn't mean we have to stop cleaning ourselves, there are some great alternatives available that are better for you and the planet.

    Here are a few of our must haves zero waste travel toiletries for on the road:

    • Shampoo bar - replaces the need for plastic bottled shampoo
    • Homemade toothpaste - before heading off, prepare and a batch and enough in a tin for your trip
    • Bamboo toothbrush - Safe and biodegradable. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a natural bamboo toothbrush
    • Safety razor -  swap single-use razors for a long-lasting, safety razor
    • Natural sunscreen - Your sunscreen could be harming marine life in a big way. Opt for sunscreen derived from all natural, plant based ingredients in tins
    • Menstrual cup - ladies, this can save you money, space and waste, it's a win-win-win
    • Organic coconut oil - a glass jar of coconut oil is probably the best travel companion. Use it as a moisturiser, for cuts & burns and chaffing


    6. Complete this Zero Waste Travel Checklist before your next trip

    There's a lot to remember before embarking on your journey - we get it. But lucky for you, we've put together a zero waste travel check list:

    • Tote bag
    • Reusable bamboo cutlery set
    • Reusable bamboo straw set
    • Reusable water bottle
    • Reusable coffee cup
    • Beeswax or reusable ziplock
    • Produce bags
    • Reusable food containers
    • Shampoo bar
    • Bamboo toothbrush
    • Shampoo bar
    • Tin of homemade toothpaste
    • Bamboo toothbrush
    • Safety razor
    • Natural sunscreen
    • Menstrual cup
    • Jar of coconut oil
    • A charged phone (for your ticket/booking itinerary)
    • Snacks for the flight
    • Layers or a scarf for the flight 

    Leave a comment:

    ​​ ​ ​