A handy guide to planning a zero-waste, guilt-free vacation!

Zero-waste vacations is the future! These simple, mindful tips will transform the way you travel and help you keep this world beautiful and safe for all.
Pick a vacation rental or resort that has sustainability in its very heart. Zero-waste vacations
Pick a vacation rental or resort that has sustainability in its very heart. Image: Shutterstock/PhotoSunnyDays.

When it comes to waste, less is indeed more. Aimed at reduced consumption, minimised waste, and optimum recycling — zero waste is certainly one of the biggest lifestyle shifts in recent times. Even in the world of travel, embracing eco-friendly, zero-waste vacations is slowing becoming second nature to many.

While it isn’t exactly a cake walk to go green while travelling, there are some rather simple tips you can follow to begin your journey towards being mindful and planning guilt-free trips. Take notes, traveller. Here’s your ultimate guide to zero-waste vacations.

Pack light and plan smart

Let’s start with a no-brainer — travelling light. All you need to do is ensure that you are only carrying what you need. Make a checklist and adhere to it. If possible, travel with a carry-on bag only, avoiding the unnecessary use of paper tags and stickers added to your suitcase at check-in and while at it, saving time from waiting at the baggage claim. It will also encourage you to minimise your buying when away. Packing mindfully is as important as planning things ahead. Do a thorough research on the destination as you plan your itinerary, so you know the local recycling regulations, mindful hotels and restaurants, and immersive community-driven experiences.

Travel light to cut down on your wastes. Zero-waste vacations
Travel light to cut down on your wastes. Image: Shutterstock/GP PIXSTOCK.

Pick your accommodation cautiously

Hotels around the world are striving to go green, thanks to the growing awareness and demand among travellers. Many boutique resorts and mindful hotels have adapted the use of recyclable toiletries and dispensers, natural fabrics, glass bottles and minimum amenities in rooms, reusable packaging, water conserving units, solar panels, waster managing composters, and other sustainable programs. You can help your hotel by asking housekeeping not to change your bedding and towels daily. Or better yet, stay at a good vacation rental or hostel instead to minimise your waste more efficiently. Cook your own meals at times, and save water on managing laundry and housekeeping yourself.

Eat local

Eat your meals at local restaurants and street food places, avoiding the use of plastic takeaway containers as well as patronising businesses that strive to source local produce. Drink local microbrews and locally produced wines. Support cafes that roast their own coffee beans. Add fun to your day by visiting a local farmers’ market and picking your own farm-fresh produce to cook a meal with family and friends! Additionally, you can pack your own snacks in reusable containers for your flight or train journey.

Taste the local culture by trying staple street foods! Zero-waste vacations
Taste the local culture by trying staple street foods! Image: Shutterstock/Lano Lan.

Consider carbon offsets

While making bookings, pick non-stop, direct flights, and resist upgrading to business class (since it leaves a larger carbon footprint). Keep that money aside to pay for the airline’s carbon offset program instead. This cost is added to your airline tickets and is invested in renewable energy projects, planting trees, and other methods of offsetting the carbon emissions involved in flying.

Walk, cycle, or use public transport

Speaking of lowering your carbon footprint, explore a place on a stroll or book group walking tours whenever possible. You can also cycle your way around or use public transportation instead of calling for a cab each time you step out. These are excellent ways to explore new destinations while keeping your carbon footprint low.

Cycling is the best way to explore a destination. Zero-waste vacations
Cycling is the best way to explore a destination. Image: Shutterstock/Yevhenii Chulovskyi.

Paperless transactions

Thanks to latest cashless technologies, you can easily choose digital transactions to pay for almost anything anywhere. Also, avoid printing documents as much as possible. Instead, download them to your phone or tablet to save on paper. This includes everything from your boarding pass, and train tickets, to receipts and e-books!

Carry reusable items

This goes without saying — avoid using single-use plastics and carry reusable items. Disposable items such as razors, tampons, and toothbrushes can be easily replaced with zero-waste alternatives. Water bottles, bamboo toothbrush, utensils, shopping bags, shampoo and soap bars, metal razors, travel cutlery, menstrual cups, metal straws, and even reusable containers can be added to the travel kit for your zero-waste vacations.

Epare your very own zero-waste travel kit with eco-friendly, reusable items! Zero-waste vacations
prepare your very own zero-waste travel kit with eco-friendly, reusable items! Image: Shutterstock/Netrun78.

Sign up for volunteer work

Make your trips more meaningful by signing up for a volunteer travel program. Remember, you can have fun and give back to the nature and communities at the same time! Just do the necessary research to ensure the project you are being a part of is going to of an effective use of your time as well as meet the needs of the destination and its locals. You can pick from teaching at a local school, taking part in a beach clean-up, to cleaning rivers off plastics and protecting endangered species.

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