How to Travel Plastic-Free


Wellness and travel creator, Kira West, describes her simple tips to going plastic-free while traveling and what impact she would like to leave on the world.

This blog post was guest-written by Kira West, a wellness and travel creator who focuses on making the wellness industry more inclusive and sustainable. Follow Kira for more wellness and travel content on her blogInstagram, and Twitter.

I know that travel has changed and slowed down due to COVID-19 but road trips and staycations are great ways to still pursue your love of travel safely. Travel is an important part of wellness and a crucial part of my self-care routine. I’m not going on as many trips as I’d planned but I’m still trying to have a few new experiences this summer. Hello camping!

As a lover of the world, I’m always conscious of my impact. The world has such an incredible impact on me, I want to make sure the impact I’m leaving on the world is a great one. Each travel experience I have opens my eyes to other vantage points and I treasure these new experiences. Prior to going on a trip I do a lot of research on the spots to visit and best options for lodging. Lately, I’ve also been reflecting on not only the impact of travel on me but how I also impact the world through travel. 

I often think about my impact in tangible ways, related to the things I’m bringing with me and ways in which I can minimize waste, especially since tourism can be strenuous for any environment. As a huge lover of the ocean I often like to travel to coastal destinations. Did you know that 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions? According to National Geographic that’s five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline. That is a whole lot of plastic.

There are many macro factors at play that make travel inherently more challenging for the environment, however, I do my best to focus on what I can control. Almost half of the plastic produced is for packaging, which is typically only used one before being thrown out. This year I’ve made the effort, especially during Plastic Free July, to travel plastic free because it’s one small way I can make a big impact. Imagine a world where we all traveled plastic free! Let’s #DroppPlastic together. 

I’m making a positive impact with every trip, even in this seemingly small way. Traveling plastic free is actually a lot easier than it sounds if you do a little research and plan in advance. 

Here are my top 7 tips and tricks to focus on! 

  • Toothbrush: This one is easy if you already have a bamboo toothbrush or a plastic-free electric one. This is something you’ll use every day so it’s a way to include less plastic in your life overall. I’ve been loving my Quip toothbrush and it’s perfect to travel with. I also have a spare bamboo toothbrush that I ordered off Amazon. If you’re looking for a complete sustainable overhaul of products, I love The Humble Company for really great sustainable oral care!
  • Cosmetic Bag: Using reusable silicone bags for your cosmetic products and any of the smaller items you need to take on your flight is super simple. I really love Stasher bags for my cosmetics because they come in a bunch of different sizes and colors. These are also great for organizing your snacks, or other small items, like chargers, in.
  • Sustainable Luggage and Suitcases: This is a big one! If you're traveling, you obviously need something to put all of your items in and most luggage isn't as sustainable as you think. Look for bags and suitcases made out of recycled materials and make an effort to shop from companies that support their employees with fair wages and safe environments. Some of my favorite ethical luggages include the Everlane ReNew Transit Weekender, which is made out of 100% recycled polyester and renewed plastic bottles. Or the Heys America Eco-lite Carry-On Suitcase, which is made out of 92 recycled water bottles! Remember if you're in need of a new luggage, don't throw away your old one. Instead, donate it or reuse it! 
  • Bring Snacks: To travel plastic free bring fruit (which requires no packaging), or bring snacks in reusable bags like the ones mentioned above from Stasher. I also love Bee's Wrapwhich is a more sustainable version of plastic wrap. You can also bring snacks in glass jars! I love mason jars for everything and you can find them available to purchase locally.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: A reusable water bottle, especially a stainless steel one, always comes in handy. I’ve traveled through security with these and never have any issues. I think of a water bottle as just another accessory so I love something that's sleek. My favorite canteen is from Corkcicle, there are so many cute colors and options.
  • Travel with a reusable straw and reusable utensils (Airport hack: focus on a spoon and chopsticks to avoid getting anything taken at security). I love this super cute sustainable set available at Urban Outfitters.
  • Traveling with sustainable personal care products is also great! Using a bar soap for your body, hair, and face is an easy way to limit plastic. It can be intimidating to switch to a shampoo bar but there are so many great options. For an easy way to do laundry on the go, I bring my Dropps’ Stain and Odor Laundry Detergent Pods with me. They’re conveniently sized, mess-free, and remove stains and odors from my clothes on every adventure. 
The above items not only help me when traveling but also for when I'm on the go running errands at home. A few little changes can really make a big difference. While we may not be flying as much these days due to COVID-19, there are still so many ways we can travel safely and reducing our plastic-waste is one step closer to making the planet a better place.