planning ahead: roadtrip.

Zero waste roadtrip

This is the beauty of a roadtrip: you can throw as much stuff as you think you'll need in the trunk of the car and get going. No need to carefully pare your zero waste traveling kit down to the bare essentials, like you might if you were hopping on an airplane.

Over the long weekend, we got in a car and headed to Indiana to spend some time with family. Luckily, the place we were staying offered a full kitchen, complete with metal straws, forks, cloth napkins, and washcloths for cleaning up, which made planning and packing much easier on this nearly zero-waster. What I ended up bringing along on the trip:

-A few thermoses to house our ever-changing collection of iced tea / water / iced coffee / sparkling water. (These stay cold for a stunning amount of time, and hot in the winter for just as long).

-Cloth bags full of simple road trip snacks like fruit and dark-chocolate-covered raisins. Homemade popcorn, sandwiches, and toasted nuts are all good options, too.

Reusable bag

-A big reusable bag, a useful choice for groceries, for picnics, for the pool, for carrying home the overflow of things that just don't quite fit in your suitcase on the way back.

-A metal container, for holding snacks and restaurant leftovers and cut-up fruit for the fridge, and for taking home some compost at the end of the weekend.

And, what you don't see here: sunscreen in a recyclable tube and handkerchiefs! (Summer allergies, man). I also meant to bring a tea strainer and a jar of loose leaf tea to make sun tea, but I forgot to this time around.

If you want to really want to make sure you're prepared, you could also bring a bar of soap or a little jar of castile soap to serve you everywhere from the bathroom to the kitchen. You could bring your favorite zero waste coffee set-up, be that a French press or a pour-over with a reusable filter. You could bring a big container (or even a bucket!) for carrying home any compost - mine was too small to really make a dent this time, unfortunately. You could bring a bandanna, to alternately use as a sunshield / napkin / handkerchief (with a wash in between, naturally). And if you want even more ideas for what might be useful to bring, you can check out the wonderful comments section on this post.

I think vacation isn't the time to worry about being perfectly zero waste: I think it's a time to try to be generally zero waste, and to relax about the rest. But if you're loading up the car for a trip anyway, why not tuck in a few of the above items? Almost all of them are multipurpose, and I find I always use them each in a few different ways.

What else would you add to the list? Tomorrow, I'll be back here with a post on composting during vacation, something that I almost always find to be tricky. Happy summer vacationing, friends!

PS. To see more of what zero waste travel looks like for me and the friends with whom I started Zero Waste Chicago, you can follow along here on Instagram.