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5 Great Ways to Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic-Free

5 Great ways to make your next journey abroad plastic free was last updated on November 10th, 2023.

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If you’re like me, you may love heading to new places, but you might not love how much waste you end up using while travelling. Tourism can end up leading to a lot of used plastic that you might not expect, such as toiletry bottles in hotels, plastic water bottles, and more. As someone interested in sustainable tourism, I often feel guilty about the amount of plastic I end up using on my journeys. However, there are some ways for you to avoid contributing to the amount of waste in your chosen destination.

Here are 5 ways I’ve found to reduce the amount of plastic I use when I travel.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic-Free

5 Ways To Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic Free

1. Invest in a reusable water bottle

When most people travel, they tend to use plenty of one-use water bottles, especially if they are headed to hot and humid climates. It’s important to hydrate when you are flying or you are on the road, but by investing in a bottle that can be refilled, you can end up saving a lot of plastic. There are plenty of great bottles now designed for travelers that are lightweight and allow you to stick them in a bag. You can find one for almost every budget and activity, which makes it easy to avoid using plastic and keep yourself quenched.

Every year 5 billion plastic water bottles are used, and with about 14 million tons of plastic ending up in our oceans yearly, I just can’t feel good about myself adding single use plastics to our Earth.

I will of course drink a bottle of water if I’m thirsty and somehow don’t have a reusable water bottle with me, but that is a very rare occasion. Carrying a reusable water with you can vastly help you to make your next journey abroad plastic free!

2. Avoid using hotel toiletries

While the toiletries provided by the hotel you are staying at can be incredibly convenient, they are also often discarded after one use. Even if you only use half a bottle of shampoo, the hotel staff are often required to throw them away.

The best thing to do is find travel bottles at your local pharmacy or dollar store that you can refill. It’s even possible to buy shampoo and bath soaps in solid form, which can be easier to transport in a suitcase—and you can carry them on an airplane.

Places such as Lush sell them, but I’ve even seen then in local drugstores.

3. Purchase reusable dishware

If you are on a road trip, then you can avoid adding waste by purchasing some plates and cups that can be reused.

Over the course of a trip you can not only save yourself money, but you also are saving paper and plastic by washing what you already have.

You might also want to consider looking into buying a set of Tupperware, which can allow you to not only store food for later, but you can also use it as dishware on your next trip.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic-Free

4. Shop at local markets

One of my absolute favorite things to do while I travel is check out the local markets. Not only do you often get handmade goods at a reasonable price direct from the marker, the foods are more ethical and far more tasty!

When you choose to eat at local markets, you are avoiding the use of packaging that it might have taken to transport food. Not only do you get to sample some of the local fruits and vegetables, but you are also choosing options that avoid the excess plastic used to bring items from one area to another.

Local restaurants are also the best places to eat when you are trying to create less waste, since take-out and fast food is often wrapped in plastic or other materials that can’t be recycled.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic Free pinterest pin

5. Bring along a reusable shopping bag

Like a reusable water bottle, a shopping bag can be a cheap way to avoid using plastic.

Both cotton or canvas bags are often perfect for carrying souvenirs or food items that you might want to take home with you. They also fold easily and you can put them in your checked luggage. Nearly 500 billion plastic bags are used per year, so even something a small as carrying a canvas bag can make a big difference.

Being a more sustainable traveler often just requires making small changes for big impact. With these tips, you can help the environment while exploring the world.

This was a guest post by Alex, with edits and additional writing by me, Brooklyn.

Alex is a Montana-born traveler and writer. She is currently a New York dreamer living in Brooklyn, encouraging sustainable travel for millennials. You can read more about her travels at The Wayfaring Voyager. You can also follow her on Instagram at @wayfaringvoyager.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Journey Abroad Plastic-Free

All images in this post are free stock photos from Creative Commons. 

14 Responses

  1. This was a very good post! I didn’t think about using the hotel tolietorties (sp?) one thing I’ve never liked about them is that are feel icky and lack for a better – cheap! So that’s actually a smart tip! 🙂

  2. These are great ideas! I need to try to do stuff like this when I travel and my daily life too. Lately I’m getting better about bringing a reusable bag. I don’t know why I often forget that especially when it’s so easy. Not a case of putting them in my trunk since I’m in NYC. I need to remember to stuff it in my purse! I have one that easily fits so it shouldn’t be so hard.
    Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I used to be really bad at forgetting my reusable bags at home, and sometimes still do. Now I have a few little bags that wrap up really small and easy in both my backpack and my purse!

  3. These are great tips! I deiniftely should bring a tote bag on holiday too. I use it in my every day life but when I’m traveling I tend to forget about it. During my last trip to Disneyland Paris I actually brought a reusable water bottle with me only to find out the water in the parks was hot. Lol. I hope they change that soon.

  4. Thank you so much for these useful tips! I am guilty of always using plastic water bottles whenever I’m travelling (whether that’s on holiday or for a day trip) so I make sure that if I do purchase one, I use it multiple times.

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Brooklyn standing in front of the pyramids of Giza

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn. Like many, I thought my purpose in life was to go to university, settle down and have kids. But that is not me. 

My aim is to inspire you to travel as much as you can while you can, whether that be through au pair work, or on your limited vacation days. It CAN be done. This world is incredible, let’s explore it!

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