Finally after two years I get to go back home to Sweden and I can’t tell you how excited I am. We’re a family from two different countries: I am from Sweden and my husband, from the U.S.; so traveling between these two countries always has been part of our lives and always will be. We don’t see an option. Do I wish our families lived closer, somewhere we at least could travel by train? Of course! But, until we’re blessed with a greener traveling option, there are a few tricks for traveling as zero waste as possible:
- Use electronic tickets for flight, transportation, events, etc.
- Take public transportation — a bus or train — whenever possible.
- Bring your own headphones for inflight entertainment.
- Rent a bike to get around, or walk whenever possible. There is no more fun way to see a city than walking or biking through it, in my opinion. These days, most cities have easy access bikes for rent.
- Rent an apartment or house instead of a hotel room — Or try HomeExchange.com to exchange homes with another family. This is how we like to travel because we can cook our own food and prepare snacks to take with us when we’re out. This saves money and lots of waste from eating in restaurants. Usually, these homes come with a washing machine, so you stay cleanJ Our kids generally feel a bit more relaxed in a home rather than in a hotel, and they have more space to move around and play.
- Travel with minimal wardrobe — It’s a fact that most people pack too much, and there is nothing more annoying than lugging around too many big, heavy suitcases when traveling, especially for a family of five. We usually pack clothes for one week and try to pack clothes that can be mixed, so there are more possibilities for changes and matches. Also, think layers for cooler days and nights. Of course, for longer trips I do bring laundry soap so I can wash clothes.
- If staying in a hotel, decline fresh towels and new sheets.
- Return plastic key to hotels.
- Bring your own shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion.
- Say no to disposable items — Usually on flights and in hotels, you tend to receive a lot of small, individually packaged items like warm towels, snacks, toothbrushes and shampoos. Most of them are either made of or packed in plastic, so I have a habit of saying no to disposable things.
- Don’t buy new magazines, books and newspapers for travel — Instead, borrow books from the library, buy used magazines, or download books onto your phone or IPad.
- Decline newspapers offered on flights.
- Decline plastic wrapped blankets.
- For reusable water bottles — Most airports have water filling stations, so it’s easy to say “no thank you” to plastic cups and water bottles. I was not too surprised to learned from Zerowastehome.com that US Airways throws away 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours. And that’s just one single airline!!!
- Bring snacks in reusable cloth snack bags — Airplane snacks usually are not that great or healthy, so I like to bring lots of snacks in cloth bags to have throughout the travel.
- Bring lunch when out and about sightseeing and traveling — Eating out can get very expensive and it creates waste, so bringing lunches to be enjoyed when out is a much better idea.
- Find a local farmers’ market or organic grocery store at your location — I just absolutely love visiting farmers’ markets in different cities and countries, and eating local foods is a fun experience.
- For grocery shopping, bring reusable shopping bags plus a couple of draw string cloth produce bags — Reusable shopping bags do not take a whole lot of room to pack but are so usable for grocery shopping when traveling. And they eliminate wasteful paper and plastic disposable bags.
- Bring a zero-waste kit — My kit includes reusable bamboo cutlery, a water bottle, beeswax wrap, a cloth snack bag, a metal straw, cloth napkin and a mason jar with lid.
- Most important, don’t let you zero waste lifestyle take away from enjoying your trip. Bon Voyage!