Low-Impact/Minimalist Travel Guide

Now I think we’ve all been hearing about this whole ‘zero waste’ movement going on, from Lauren Singer who runs the Trash is for Tossers blog to Youtubers like Jenny Mustard who dedicate themselves to the movement or simply are intrigued by what it’s all about. I myself have found it to be truly challenging and liberating all at once and, being a self-proclaimed almost travel expert, I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there where I’ve learned from plenty of my mistakes and have crafted ways to promote a better, more eco-friendly lifestyle.

So basically the ‘zero waste’ movement means producing as little to no waste as possible through composting, recycling, shopping less and shopping better. However, I prefer to call it “minimal waste living” because it considers the issues with the term ‘zero waste’ and doesn’t confine one to perfection all the time. And now here we go.


Essential Packing

Here are some things I’ve found to be quite useful over the years. Many of these I didn’t buy brand new and instead either already had them, bought them secondhand, or got them from a friend/family member. Lots of these have substitutes and can be DIY, but that’s at your discretion.

  • A reusable water bottle
  • A KeepCup (I got this for free in Iceland)
  • A Boc n’ Roll food bag (can hold sandwiches, fruit, nuts and everything)
  • A reusable stainless steel straw
  • Reusable utensils (either “real” steel utensils or a travel pack- mine has chopsticks!)
  • A handkerchief (got this as my souvenir from Cuba’s Clandestina.
  • A bandana (had this forever)
  • Tote bags
  • Reusable silicon travel containers (for shampoo/laundry detergent)
  • DIY all-natural deodorant and beauty/hair care (super easy to make and the base for most of my products is coconut oil, essential oils and baking soda)
  • Steel nail clippers
  • Reusable moon cup and pads (read on how to have a happier period here.)

NOTE: On packing clothes, I pack things that would go well with each other and that I use often and not items I’ll wear once or twice. This rule applies for travel of a couple of days to a few months. So that means basic tops, shorts/pants and enough undies to last a week (or more). I pack my own eco-friendly laundry detergent and wash by sink as needed. And if I am captivated by the perfect thrift item, I won’t feel bad about hurting the environment or potentially never using it.

Need to Knows

For me, the key to producing minimal waste is planning ahead and putting lots of thought into the decisions/choices you make. So whenever I leave the house, even if I don’t think I’ll buy anything or need anything specifically, I’ll usually pack at least my utensils, bandana and tote bags for the impromptu grocery shopping spree or dessert find! That way no donut is left behind and no oranges will roll into the street from me carrying them in my arms. And as such, I try to purchase as fresh as possible at farmers’ markets for fruits and veggies and seek out bulk stores or international stores that sell rice, legumes, dried fruits and more by weight which I pack in my reusable bags and glass jars.

Also, being creative and using what you already own is a great way to live more eco-friendly. Using my Keep Cup (which is meant for coffee or tea) to carry my soup or berries works well with me and I use old jam jars to pack dried fruits and toothpaste.

And lastly, it’s so important to always seek to learn more and challenge yourself. This way of living goes so well with veganism and ethical fashion and so many other things and, living in an age where anything is possible and people are more conscious than ever, we have the ability to do more for ourselves, for each other and for the planet. All it takes is the first step and you’re well on your way to making the world a bit better.

For the Airport

This can be a tough one if you let it. Whenever I travel somewhere for a month or less I take only a carry on and personal item because it can comfortably hold 1 week’s worth of clothing which is all I need. And if the travel is for 3 days or less I’m good with just a personal item.

This way I skip check-in and can just check in online as most airlines let you do that and not print a ticket. Same goes for buses and trains! I also don’t have to wait for my luggage at the carousel which might even get lost (has happened before!) and has those nasty non-recyclable stickers on them.

I make sure to pack more than enough snacks and water (after security) for the flight so I don’t have to ask for drinks served in plastic cups or snacks that never fill me up. I usually pack hand fruit (make sure you check guidelines for wherever you’re traveling to see if any foods are restricted) and dried fruits and nuts in my handkerchief and KeepCup. And after eating my fruit I pack it away in a compostable bag to compost when I can. I’m not too aware of how food waste works on airlines but I don’t know any that compost and only a couple that recycle.

Happy traveling!

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