How to Travel More Sustainably

  • By: Owen McComasky
  • Date: September 12, 2020
  • Time to read: 4 min.

A Zero-Waste Approach to Holidays and Day Trips


How to Travel More Sustainably

We’ve all been there…

…You left packing your bags ‘til the last minute, so you rush to the station or the airport and imagine that, you didn’t pack snacks for the journey. Desperate and hangry, you dash into the local supermarket or general store to grab a litre bottle of water along with a sandwich and some packets of sweets. Problem solved!


Ok, your case of the munchies has been solved, but what about all that plastic waste that’s left on your lap? If you have found yourself in this situation before, you know that it is just the beginning. The mound of plastic waste will only pile up from here.


If you’ve felt the frustration of creating more waste in one short trip than you’d typically make in a few days, we’ve got your back. If you wish to stop contributing to more landfills, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and similar gyres, we have some advice on how to travel more sustainably.


Zero Waste about the journey, not the destination


First things first, you’re going to be proactive. Investing in reusable goods and creating your own zero waste travel kit. There are many things to include in this kit and you can find plenty of online stores who offer their own variation of it. While we do not have a recommended retailer or producers, we do want to share our must-haves to help you either get started on your travel kit or complete your set of essentials. Check out our proposals below:


  • Reusable water bottle
  • Reusable coffee cup
  • Bamboo cutlery set
  • Bamboo/metal straw (With straw cleaner)*
  • Sandwich bag and/or lunch tin
  • Cloth bag


How to Travel More Sustainably

*Not a fan of straws? You may not find yourself in a situation where you need one very often, so we leave that one up to you. Alternatively, you can learn to say “No straw, please” in the local language wherever you’re travelling to. 


Make sure your water bottle is full and you’ve got some food packed et voila! You’ve reduced the chances of coming into close contact with single-use plastic. Travelling in a group? Be the hero and prepare these Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars for you and your peckish travel companions.


It’s All in the Planning Process


Let’s go back a few steps and discuss planning for a more sustainable journey. With some preparation, you can lower the impact of your journey on many levels. 


First of all, your chosen mode of transport. Our previous post on reducing your carbon footprint suggested taking fewer but longer holidays, especially if you are going to fly. Check out our bonus fact below to learn more about offsetting your carbon emission when you cannot avoid taking a flight.


If you can take more time off for your holiday, do consider travelling by train, bus, or a combination of both. There are useful sites and app, such as Rome2Rio, that can guide you on the cheapest, fastest and most economical travel options.


Booking your transport ahead of time may allow you to go paperless. You are automatically reducing your CO2 emissions when you use digital tickets, saving time and a few trees. Even Lonely Planet have made their tourist guides available as ebooks.


Supporting Those Who Support the Planet


Not sure where to travel next? Preparing for a post-pandemic world tour? Sites such as Ecobnb can help you find the perfect location while “making the world greener with every journey”. There are so many hotels, guesthouses, cafe and restaurants that are doing their part and trying to run their business as sustainably as possible. Finding them can be hard sometimes. Look out for business which:


  • Source their food and drink locally
  • Refuse to use single-use plastic or offer discounts to customers with reusable cups
  • Sell bulk items for guilt-free snacking
  • Offer sustainable/restorative tourism activities such a beach clean-ups or plogging
  • Donate leftover food in an attempt to combat food waste


**We’ve already mentioned straws, but on the topic of eco-friendly businesses, check out this restaurant in Bristol ditched plastic straws for pasta ones!


No matter how you plan your next holiday, we wish you and safe and thoughtful adventure!


Bonus Facts

Did you know…there are ways of offsetting your carbon footprint on those journeys where you decided to travel by plane? For a more thorough explanation on how that works, read this NYT piece on Carbon Offsetting.


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