Zero Waste Travel

Reducing waste while traveling on the go

I learned what to take on a daily basis and how to pack light for longer trips away. I formed a habit of taking snacks, a handkerchief, and a bottle while on the go. I realised that zero waste is about minimalism and simplicity.


Day to day

A handbag audit could be helpful at this stage. Think about all the items you use on a daily basis and add a handkerchief and small shopping bag to the set.

Whats in my bag for zero waste
At most, this is what’s in my bag.

Essentially, all I need is my wallet, phone, keys and a handkerchief. Everything else depends on where I’m going and whether a bag is necessary. Here’s the full extent of what I take:

  • Bailey Nelson glasses for seeing way off into the future
  • Small cheesecloth bag that fits in my pocket
  • My favourite handkerchief: To use as a scarf, to hold bakery treats, napkin, tissue …only ever in that order Snotzilla always comes last
  • Lush lipstick (only if I want to feel fancy)
  • Mr Simple wallet: Moving to a “men’s wallet” was the first step to not needing a handbag at all – I just throw coins in my pocket now
  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Multi-purpose balm in a Lush sample container: For lips, hair, nails, moisturiser and general spruce up
  • Cough lollies: If I have singing practice. I buy these in glass jars to avoid individually wrapped plastic packaging.
  • T2 water bottle: Usually just for singing or long walks. This doubles as a thermos and keeps tea nice and warm for hours.
Zero waste coffee run
I take two items with me on a coffee run: My handkerchief and reusable coffee cup

Snacks, handkerchief & bottle

If travelling for an extended period of time, take snacks to avoid impulse purchases, a drink bottle that can be refilled, and a handkerchief for take away sandwiches, baked goods, etc. If you’re more of a sushi fan, a small container is helpful too.

Airport survival kit for zero waste
Airport survival kit: Handkerchief, snacks and water bottle

I now have an airport survival kit: Snacks, handkerchief, and water bottle. These three items ensure a package-free trip from Melbourne to Katoomba. That’s a 1.5hr flight plus 2.5hr train ride with loads of waiting time in between. The salty macadamias and chocolate covered almonds prevented me from buying McDonalds Chicken McNuggets at the airport and Pringles on the plane. The water bottle prevented me from guzzling down lemonade and then throwing away the vessel. The handkerchief was used to wrap a toasted cheese and tomato croissant to take away. I also bought an apple for a zero waste snack.


Minimalist beauty

While in transition, take the labels off certain products as a reminder to keep the container and bulk buy / DIY once it runs out.

Zero waste travel
My first big trip while adjusting to a zero waste lifestyle

I’m getting the hang of zero waste travel and learning how to pack light. This is what’s in my toiletries bag for a 3 day trip. This works pretty well for me. We went to New York for 8 days and I took a similar set of items, and it was perfect. If we were camping, we would have tea tree oil and Castile soap – and the blush would be the first thing to go.

  • Tweezers
  • Fine brush
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Blush powder: I’m working my way through the last of my make up. This powder can easily be made with beetroot powder and cornstarch.
  • Home made toothpowder
  • Rose hip oil or Argan Oil
  • Multi-purpose balm in a tiny jam jar: For hair, lips, nails, feet, etc
  • Deodorant
  • Bamboo toothbrush: I recommend Uppercut Delux toothbrush
  • Reusable make up wipes: Made from my old bath robe
  • Home made face powder in a Lush tin
  • Large makeup brush
Zero waste travel
After a few months, my travel pack is getting more and more minimal

Pack a capsule wardrobe

Get comfortable wearing pants, jumpers, and jackets a couple of times before washing. Packing light takes practice so it helps to take more holidays (you know it!). This is also great practice for a longer term capsule wardrobe.

Capsule wardrobe zero waste travel
Everything I brought/wore for 4 days away.

All the clothes, accessories and shoes I brought for 4 days away: Tracksuit pants, 2 x Jeans, 4 x undies, 2 x Socks, 1 x Bra, Scarf, Beanie, Leather jacket, Hoodie, Glasses, Sunnies, Cardigan, 4 x T-shirts, Gloves and Boots.


How to be zero waste without lugging your life around

Always remember to bring a handkerchief, a drinking vessel and a shopping bag. Use travel as a test for minimising everyday toiletries & wardrobe. Take note of items that you use on the go. Challenge yourself to pack lighter & smarter.

Next: Remain ready with Zero Waste Groceries