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Our Low Waste Travel Kit

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

When I first started to strive for a zero waste lifestyle, I spent most of my time, money, and effort trying to reduce or eliminate waste in my own home. I didn’t worry too much about my waste outside the home because a) there was more waste in the home and I needed to start somewhere, b) I thought it would be a lot harder to reduce waste on the go, and c) I thought people would think I was weird (heaven forbid!). But, as I accomplished my home goals, my traveling lifestyle felt more and more incongruent with the rest of my life, so it was time to start bringing low waste with me.

By writing this post, I’m hoping to save you the struggle of figuring all this out on your own so you can just jump into low waste travel without all the research and trail and error. I’m breaking it into sections based on the length of the trip.

Low Waste Travel Toolkit #1: Every Day Kit

  1. Water Bottle for each person

  2. Travel coffee mug for each coffee drinker (or hot chocolate drinker)

  3. Easy snack for each person (an apple or a handful of trail mix in a reusable snack bag)

  4. A few rags and/or handkerchiefs in case you need a napkin or someone spills (I used cut up t-shirts)

  5. At least one reusable fabric grocery bag (I keep several these in my car all the time and one small one with me when I’m walking or biking)

Low Waste Travel Toolkit #2: Day Tripper Kit

  1. Low Waste Travel Kit #1 for each person

  2. Big jug of filtered water to refill water bottles (we use a 5-gallon glass jug that once held syrup)

  3. Large snack to allocate into individual bags or bowls (trail mix, crackers, chips, dried fruits, whatever you like to buy at the gas station)

  4. Reusable plates, cups, and bowls (we have stainless steel mess kits for camping)*

  5. Bamboo utensil set per person (or use old silverware)*

  6. Napkins, dish cloths, or rags (or all three – every family is different)

  7. Wet/dry bag for wet bathing suits, dirty clothes, and used rags (I use an old – but clean! – cloth diaper bag)

  8. Picnic lunch in a cooler, if desired (unless eating at a restaurant or someone’s house)*

*All mess kit supplies and utensils can also be used with take out food as well. I keep a set in my car all the time in case we decide to go out to eat randomly.

If you have camping mess kits, they can double as your takeout and picnic set instead of paper plates and cups and plastic cutlery. We made these cute, monogrammed “bambooware” carrying pouches out of inherited napkins during Covid. Had to keep ’em busy!

Low Waste Travel Kit #3: Overnight Travel Kit

  1. Low Waste Travel Kit #1 for each person

  2. Low Waste Travel Kit #2

  3. Toiletry Kit

  4. Shampoo/Conditioner Bar (wrapped in a clean rag)

  5. Bar Soap (wrapped in a clean rag)

  6. Tooth tabs and toothbrushes

  7. Wash cloth

  8. Brush/comb

  9. Refillable deodorant (I get mine at We Fill Good)

  10. Period supplies (if necessary)

  11. Shaving supplies

  12. Any other toiletries you use

  13. Extra pillow case for dirty laundry

  14. Weather appropriate clothing and shoes

Rather than buying a second set of everything, I just take my toiletries with me in a little pouch I inherited from my grandmother. If you like to use refillable shampoo and conditioner instead of bars, you can repurpose small glass or plastic jars to make travel size amounts.

I plan to make a longer post about low waste camping soon, but this overnight list should get you started. When packing for a longer trip, make sure to think about anything you might end up buying – activities, gear, food, and supplies. Whenever you buy a duplicate because you didn’t pack appropriately, you are creating more waste. Just do your best… I have certainly bought an umbrella and some sandals on the road.

Happy travels!

– Hannah

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