Slow Travel – Zero Waste Tips

I love to travel, it might be to the next town or to the next country. I am based in
South Africa and often visiting another country requires air travel. At most I will
perhaps make a trip once a year and go to one place for a few weeks and
experience it to the point where I no longer use Google Maps to find my way
around. Slow travel, in my book, is the only authentic way of traveling and truly
discovering what a community in another country has to offer. I love finding
hidden cafes where no one speaks English, or smelling flowers in the early
morning church square markets. Where you can see local pensioners loading
fresh produce into wheeled grocery baskets and slowly dragging it behind them
as they move from stall to stall. It’s about witnessing a different way of life,
loving what is similar and the differences.

I like to travel light… really light. I travel with a 40L backpack and still find ways I
overpack. Whether you travel for a few days or a few months, everything you
need can fit into a carry-on. Why specifically a carry-on? Traveling with a carry-on
will not only make you more versatile on your trip and save you unnecessary
fees for larger luggage, it lowers your carbon footprint. The lighter you pack, the

I did a lot of research and a lot of practise runs before various trips to try and
test out the most efficient way to travel with a 40L backpack that had to weigh
under 8kg. Keeping in mind that I still brought everything needed for low waste
travel. I thought I would share some of the things that I found beneficial in the
hopes it could help you.

Eagle Creek 40L backpack


  • Food Container (I brought a collapsible silicone container and a Stasher Bag)
  • Water Bottle (double walled and insulated for more flexibility)
  • Cutlery (bamboo, because metal cutlery will be confiscated at the airport)
  • Produce bags
  • Reusable bags (folds into itself)

The staples are important, things like a few produce bags, reusable bag, water
bottle, cutlery and food container. A reusable coffee cup is optional. I have
traveled with one, but I hardly used it as we mainly did sit down coffees and
people watched when we went to local cafes. If you want the best of both
worlds I would suggest getting an insulated double walled coffee cup or bottle
and having the flexibility to use it as both. As I have mentioned this is my
personal list, take what you need from this and customize it to you.

  • Bamboo Toothbrush
  • Solid Lotion Bar
  • Solid body and face soap bar

You can see from the list I am trying to limit my liquids. You are allowed to bring liquids.
According to carry-on regulations you can bring liquids in containers up to 100ml each, but the total must not exceed 1L. Along with the above mentioned list, I add my skincare and make-up items (eyebrow pencil, lipstick and mascara) and pack them all in the same Stasher bag mentioned in “Staples” thus using space effectively and the Stasher bag automatically makes it waterproof and the perfect replacement for those single use ziplock bags. I recently came across Earthly Toothpaste Bits in a health store and had to try them. They don’t foam up as much as Lush’s Tooth Tabs, but they get the job done. At home I use my DIY toothpaste, but for travel tooth tabs are ideal because they are easier to portion to make sure you have enough for your travels. Fortunately these days you can find a Lush in most cities if you run out of anything. Shampoo and conditioner bars have become popular, but I have only found the two-in-one combo at Lush. For the face and body soap bar I would definitely suggest Castile soap. It’s multi-purpose use in cleaning your clothes and dishes come in handy too.

Useful Items:

  • Scrubba Bag
  • Laundry Line

The Scrubba Bag is one of the most useful items on the list. Not only can you use it to wash your clothes in almost anywhere from camping to hotels, but it doubles as a dry bag when you have to travel on days where you need to pack a wet towel or swimming costume. By using it you conserve your water use and it allows you to pack lighter. I do prefer a liquid soap to wash my clothes with in a Scrubba, but the Castile soap bar will do if you soap up the clothes before closing the Scrubba Bag for the deep wash. A twisted laundry line with adhesive cups and rings on each end is the perfect partner to your Scrubba Bag. It’s small and light, and because the nylon is twisted you don’t need pegs and can use the space on the line efficiently.

Everyone has different needs and packs accordingly, but I hope you have found these tips helpful in preparation for your next trip!

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