Zero Waste Travel – 12 Must-Pack Essentials

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Waterfall, suitcases, and stone steps leading into forest with text overlay - 12 must-pack essentials for zero waste travel

Zero Waste Travel Essentials

I absolutely love to travel. I think this world has some incredible natural beauty that everyone should able to experience. That’s one reason why I work so hard to protect it!

But traveling can produce A LOT of waste. When I started my journey toward a more zero waste lifestyle, I knew I would have to make some adjustments to my traveling habits.

Fortunately, I discovered it’s actually quite easy to make traveling more eco-friendly with these zero waste travel essentials.

The Problem With Traditional Travel

For many people, a trip to a new place means using those tiny bottles of soap and shampoo that hotels leave in the bathroom. If they’re resourceful, they might buy those miniature bottles at the store and refill them with supplies from home.

It also means disposable utensils and napkins when eating out. Disposable water bottles to guarantee safe drinking water. Plastic bags when they’re shopping for souvenirs. Basically, a lot of plastic and even more waste.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can easily pack a zero waste travel kit with everything you need for your trip.

Packing a Zero Waste Travel Kit

When you’re getting ready for your next trip, you can pack the following items to help you put together a zero waste travel kit with everything you need.

Shampoo Bar

Shampoo Bar

Rather than use up and throw away the small bottle of shampoo that hotels provide, you can pack your own shampoo bar. This is one of my favorite shampoo bars because it has an amazing scent.

Using this shampoo bar means you prevent three bottles of shampoo from being made and thrown away, so it’s a great option for everyday showering as well. Plus, it’s made using compostable packaging.

If you’re like me and have dry and frizzy hair, you’ll also love the conditioner bar.

Don’t forget to pick up a storage container as well. Not only are they good for extending the life of your shampoo and conditioner bar in the shower at home by letting them breathe and keeping them dry, but they’re also perfect for holding them when you travel. The storage container can hold one shampoo bar and one conditioner bar.

Body Wash

Body Wash Bar

Once you have your shampoo taken care of, it’s time to move on to your body wash. I have sensitive skin, so I look for something that’s gentle and won’t dry it out. That’s why I love this body wash bar.

It comes in a variety of great scents, and each bar helps eliminate one plastic bottle from being made and thrown away.

Lotion

Lotion Bar

Not only do I have the joy of having sensitive skin, but I also have skin that tends to get dry very easily. So I have to use lotion every day. If you’re the same way, you don’t have to pack a bottle of lotion when you travel.

Instead, go with a lotion bar. Lotion bars look just like a bar of soap, except they’re made with lotion. Just rub them over your body when you get out of the shower and you’re ready to go.

You’ll nourish your skin, and one lotion bar eliminates the equivalent of two bottles of lotion.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Bamboo Toothbrush

Keep plastic toothbrushes out of the landfill by using a bamboo toothbrush instead. These toothbrushes are made with a bamboo handle that’s water resistant and stronger and harder than wood.

The packaging is biodegradable craft paper, and when you’ve used your toothbrush for the last time, the bamboo handle will also biodegrade.

Since you’ll be traveling, don’t forget to get a bamboo toothbrush travel case to hold your toothbrush during your trip.

There are different types of bamboo toothbrushes available. Find out which is the best bamboo toothbrush so you can get the one that will suit your needs.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste Tablets

Having a toothbrush won’t do you much good if you don’t have any toothpaste to use with it. To keep your travel kit zero waste and avoid those plastic tubes of toothpaste, go with toothpaste tablets.

These tablets come in a reusable glass container. When you start to get low, you can purchase a box of refill tablets. The refill tablets come in a kraft paper box and plant-based bags that are both compostable. This makes them great for creating a zero waste bathroom at home as well!

To use them, you simply pop one tablet in your mouth, chew it up until it starts foaming, and then brush your teeth like normal.

Dental Floss

Bamboo Fiber Dental Floss

The final part of your dental care routine to consider when you’re putting together your zero waste travel kit is the dental floss. Rather than choose plastic dental floss that comes in a plastic case, look for biodegradable dental floss that comes in a reusable glass container.

My preferred zero waste dental floss is this organic bamboo fiber dental floss. It’s vegan, biodegradable, and comes in a reusable glass container.

Of course, that’s not the only type of zero waste dental floss available. If you’re not familiar with your options, learn more about eco-friendly dental floss to find the one that works best for you.

Reusable Water Bottle

LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle

Now that you have your hygiene needs taken care of, it’s time to stock your zero waste travel kit with the items you need to eat and drink while you’re traveling.

I see a lot of people who shun plastic water bottles during their everyday life, but then use them when they travel. However, there’s no reason you can’t use a reusable water bottle.

The majority of major cities around the world have tap water that’s clean and safe to drink. More and more cities are also installing water bottle refilling stations where you can get clean water.

If you’re traveling to a developing country and worried about contaminants in the water, you have a few options.

The LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle has a filter that can remove 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. You can also get water purification tablets that you simply drop in water to make it suitable to drink.

Just keep in mind that the water bottle does require a replaceable filter and the water purification tablets come in small bottles, so they’re not completely zero waste. Of course, having clean water that’s safe to drink is also crucial.

Reusable Straw

Koffie Straw

Your reusable water bottle is perfect for keeping you hydrated throughout the day, but sometimes you might want to stop by a restaurant to enjoy a drink. That’s why your zero waste travel kit should also include a reusable straw.

We love the Koffie Straw and take it with us everywhere we go. Of course, you have a variety of different options when you’re considering what type of reusable straw to get. Check out this post about the best reusable straws to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Reusable Utensils

Reusable Bamboo Travel Utensils

Those little plastic-wrapped packets that contain a plastic spoon, fork, and knife seem to be everywhere when you travel, and wow, do they create A TON of waste. Skip the disposable utensils and pack a set of reusable bamboo utensils instead.

This bamboo travel utensil set is a fantastic choice because it comes with a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks (which you can also use as a drink stirrer).

They come in a holder that’s made of RPET, which is a sturdy, washable material made from recycled plastic bottles. The holder also includes a carabiner that lets you clip it to your bag so you don’t have to worry about losing it. I’ve discovered that the holder has enough room for me to stick my reusable straw in there as well, which means I have everything I need for eating out in one convenient case.

Cloth Napkins

Cotton Napkins

Cloth napkins might be one of those zero waste products that you never even think about grabbing. However, as the voice of experience, I can tell you that you’ll appreciate having them.

You can wet one to wipe up messy faces and hands. You can also spread one out to hold snacks while you’re eating on the go. Obviously, you can use it to make sure you don’t have to use disposable napkins when you go out to eat.

We use these cloth napkins at home. Whenever we get ready to leave for one of our trips, I just grab a couple of napkins from the pile and tuck them into our zero waste travel bag.

Reusable Snack Bags

Reusable Storage Bag

A reusable snack bag is another one of those items that you might not think about packing, but you’ll be so glad you have it. Pack a few in your zero waste travel kit and you can fill them up with snacks when you run across a bulk food store.

Again, I don’t go out and purchase anything special for our zero waste travel bag. Instead, I simply use the same reusable snack bags we have in the house for everyday use.

Reusable Bag

Reusable Shopping Bag

You’ll probably be doing some shopping when you travel, so make sure you have some reusable bags so you don’t have to use plastic bags. These reusable bags are an excellent option because they fold up into the attached pouch for compact storage.

When we travel, we keep one reusable bag open to hold all of our zero waste travel essentials. Then we fold up several other bags and toss them in so we’ll always have some available when we need them.

Zero Waste Travel Essentials

Although many people think travel and waste go hand in hand, they don’t have to. You can still get out there and enjoy all the beauty this world has to offer while keeping your waste to a minimum when you create a zero waste travel kit with these essential items.

More Zero Waste Tips

Interested in discovering even more outstanding zero waste living tips? Be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:

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