Zero Waste Travel: 5 Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Low Impact Traveling

It can be a challenge to go green, especially while traveling. But in this age of environmental decline, it’s important to be mindful of our impact on the planet, and zero-waste travel is an excellent method to achieve that.

What is Zero Waste Travel?

It is the pursuit to cause as little environmental impact as possible while traveling by limiting the amount of trash generated and minimizing one’s carbon emissions. But is zero-waste travel even possible?

Zero waste is about effort, not perfection. While it’s impossible to create zero waste, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce by making conscious choices and finding better alternatives.

Below are five tips that can help you achieve zero waste travel.

Travel Responsibly

How you get to/from and around your destination makes a difference in your carbon footprint. Here’s how you can reduce travel emissions on your next trip.

Avoid Flying When You Can

In general, planes and cars tend to be the least efficient modes of transportation. If you’re traveling to a closer destination, consider using a train or coach to cut your emissions. Once you’ve arrived, take the bus or cycle around town instead of renting a car.

Fly Sustainably

When flying, choose airlines with high ranking for fuel efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and environmental impact. Low-cost airlines tend to be more environmentally friendly than pricier alternatives, as they seat more people and therefore have lower carbon emissions per person.

Book Direct Flights

When you’ve finally settled on a sustainable airline, skip the layover and book direct flights. Planes emit the most CO2 during takeoff and landings. Thus, the less time you board a plane, the less your carbon footprint is. 

Buy Carbon Offsets

A carbon offset is a credit that a person can buy to reduce their carbon footprint.

When you purchase carbon offsets, the money is used to fund environmental projects that reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, such as planting trees, renewable energy research, carbon capture, etc.

Most prices of carbon credits range anywhere between $10 and $25 per metric ton of carbon emitted.

Many airlines have some sort of carbon offset program, but how they work varies. When you book your ticket for a trip, ask the travel agency to include carbon offsets in your expenses.

Pack Snacks For The trip

Airline snacks are notorious for being overpriced and mostly come in single-use plastic packaging. Not only do they burn a hole in your pocket, but they also cause a lot of harm to our environment.

The next time you travel, prepare some zero-waste travel snacks for yourself or your family. Bake some cookies, pastries or prepare sandwiches and pack them in a reusable food container.

Avoid Disposable Waste

In some places, tourists produce up to twice as much waste as local residents. Here’s how you can minimize your trash when traveling.

Go Paperless

Whether it’s your boarding pass, train tickets, or an in-flight meal, use your phone to make transactions and avoid printing on paper that you’ll immediately throw away. You’ll be able to reduce waste and also save paper, trees, and energy.

Bring Reusables

Much of the trash we’re going to create while traveling is likely going to be related to eating, drinking, and shopping.

Avoid using plastic straws, bottles, cups, cutlery, shopping bags, and other disposable items during your trip. Opt for reusable alternatives that are compact and easy to carry.

If you need to buy a beverage, get the ones that come in aluminum cans that you can recycle later.

Look For Eco-Friendly Accommodation

With the right choice of accommodation, you can significantly reduce your travel waste. It doesn’t have to be a green hotel with a strict sustainable focus but should have some policies on reducing waste. Hostels and Airbnbs are great, as you can save tons of water on laundry and cook your own meals.

Unable to find one? Here are ways you can make your hotel stay more eco-friendly:

  • Conserve water – Keep your showers short, and be sure to shut the water off while brushing your teeth.
  • Reuse your bath towel and sheets - there’s really no need for the hotel to waste water washing things more frequently than you wash them at home.
  • Put up the no housekeeping sign to save on washing and needless vacuuming.
  • Turn off the lights, air conditioning, or heating when you’re out for the day.
  • Refuse single-use water bottles - carry a reusable water bottle or buy a filtered one.
Final Thoughts On How To Travel Zero Waste

Zero-waste travel can seem like a monumental task in the beginning, but it gets easier with time. With a little preparation and small incremental changes, you can help fight climate change and preserve beautiful sites for generations to come.