Plastic Free Travel: Tips to Reuse and Remove

Plastic Free July

Plastic-Free July is a movement out of Australia where individuals commit to giving up single-use plastics for the month of July. Since its inception in 2011, it has mobilized more than two million people in 150 countries to commit to taking steps to reduce plastic pollution.

One of the greatest challenges is July often coincides with summer vacation. Traveling plastic-free can be challenging, but with a bit of planning and mindfulness, traveling plastic-free can be a viable option for everyone!

No matter who you are, where you go, or how you travel, you can contribute to a plastic-free environment.


Dining in is not only one of the easiest ways to avoid single-use plastic and other disposable paper products but also provides an opportunity to eat like the locals, enjoy your surroundings, and try local fare.


Choose beverages that are bottled locally, or purchase coffee served in mugs to minimize the impact of you travels on the environment.


Street food and local markets are a great offer local flavors. Look for vendors that serve food on reusable or paper containers over plastic or Styrofoam.


Travel utensils demonstrate good planning and mindfulness AND can be used on a flight or road trip. Enjoying local cuisine is not only a great way to discover new flavors and get to know more about a culture, but it also helps reduce how much plastic you incur.  Choose a paper straw, bring your own, or just say, “no.”

Eat and drink local: food for thought

  • Choose pasta in places where you know it is made fresh rather than pasta and rice or beans where is is grown locally and delivered in sacks from local farms (Allen, 2018).  
  • Local breweries
  • Vineyard tastings
  • Fruit and vegetable stands
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Orchard picking
  • Bakeries

Bring a refillable water bottle

  • In developing countries where the tap water isn’t safe to drink, you can use a SteriPen to kill pathogens in the tap water in two minutes
  • Some developing countries have stations where you can get UV Filtered Water or Reverse Osmosis Water
  • Take advantage of hotels or restaurants’ technology that provide clean water to its guests (Allen, 2018).  


Opt for a rental property that supplies lotions and potions , bring your own, or choose a hotel chain that is committed to removing single use plastics from their rooms:

  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Accor Hotels

Marriott officials have said they expected to save an average of 250 pounds of plastic a year — that’s 23,000 plastic bottles — for each 140-room hotel that stopped stocking rooms with the little bottles. Last year, Walt Disney Co. said it would get rid of small plastic shampoo bottles at its resorts and cruise ships. California officials are trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste. The state already bans grocery stores from giving customers single-use plastic bags without charging a fee. Last year, former Gov. Jerry Brown passed a law allowing restaurants to hand out plastic straws only upon request.

Snacks: On the plane

The airlines are notorious for giving little bags of individually wrapped snacks that are low-quality, not filling in the least and covered in plastic. Consider a refillable container or paper bag to carry filling snacks like nuts and dried fruit Pack fruit—Note: if you are flying into a foreign country, you will most likely not be able to bring fruit or nuts Wrap up a sandwich, pastry or some cookies in a bandana or cloth napkin--it takes up virtually no space, can become a reusable and can easily be washed in the sink at a hotel with a bit of shampoo if it gets a little dirty (Allen, 2018).  

Snacks: On a road trip

  • Bake treats
  • Buy snacks in a box
  • Grab Fruit
  • Pack sandwiches
  • Use paper lunch bags to package travel size snacks

Snacks: Buy Local


When traveling abroad, make a sign that says, "I don’t need a straw," or "I don’t need a bag" in the local language using the Google Translate app. Turn your phone to landscape to fill the screen with the phrase without generating waste (Allen, 2018).



Whether you are climbing up or hiking down, leave nothing behind, and consider picking up after someone else


Your choices affect the people, the mountains, the sea, and our world.

Your choices affect the people, the mountains, the sea, and our world!


Allen, K. (2018). How to travel plastic free. PlasticPollutionCoalition.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center