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Travel without plastic



“No straw please!”


Requesting a drink without a straw is an important phrase that many of us are now remembering to use, though I have to say that I have been impressed by the number of places I’ve been to recently that are no longer using the plastic variety, and the request is not required.

“Sin pajita, por favor”   (Spanish for no straw please)

Similarly, recyclable takeaway cups are appearing more frequently. I was delighted on a recent Easyjet flight to find that the cups they use are now made from plants, not plastic.



In addition, many airports, and other locations, are providing ready access to drinking water points where we can fill our bottles.

Now, we need to take advantage of these positive changes, and make a difference ourselves.  Packing without plastics makes a thoughtful and pro-active start to our travels.

Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Carry your own drinking vessels – for water and hot drinks (collapsible versions are available)
  2. Similarly, carry your own food containers, and take beeswax wraps if you’re likely to buy food on your travels
  3. Toiletries – carry in your own re-usable containers, and use soap bars and shampoo bars rather then the liquid variety
  4. Use a bamboo toothbrush (see here for recommendations on options available)  – it is estimated that 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide every year and roughly 80 per cent of these end up in the sea
  5. Select your hand and face wipes carefully as the majority currently contain plastic
  6. Take a re-usable shopping bag or two (or buy a local version on your travels)
  7. If you’re like me and carry tea bags with you around the world, be sure to shop for plastic-free ones


After your eco-friendly packing, what next, you ask.

Top of my list, is don’t use the tiny plastic bottles of toiletries in your hotel room. If we don’t use them, they’ll stop providing them.

“Pas de paille, s’il vous plait”   (French for no straw please)

Next, try out the straw phrase, politely, and in the local language if you can.

“Kein Strohhalm bitte”   (German for no straw please)

When indulging in an ice cream, go for a tasty cone rather than a plastic coated tub.

And when you have a coffee, make sure you use your own travel cup, or take a rest, put your feet up and sit in the cafe – enjoy their crockery and maybe make a new friend by chatting with the locals.


Enough of my ramblings, for now – happy plastic-free travels.

If you have suggestions do please share them in the comments below.





Copyright Debbie Smyth, 11 October 2018

Posted as part of Cee’s B&W Challenge

44 replies »

  1. Such a good post! We need to spread the word! I don’t use ice cream cups, but my friends do and I hadn’t thought of the the plastic in them before. I’ll have to tell them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haha love this 🙂 I am a big traveler and always carry around my own water bottles and bags for shopping. Soap bars and the bamboo toothbrushes will soon be on my list! Have you tried any of the new shampoo or conditioner (is that a thing) bars? I’ve seen some out and about but haven’t picked one yet!


  3. ‘No straw’ and ‘Can I have it in this (my reusable container) please?’ Are two of the first phrases I try to nail when I travel! They can make such a difference to the amount of waste produced.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m loving this recycled cup and straw movement – VegWare do straws that feel like “plastic” but at actually soya or similar . The paper ones just fall apart so it’s cool to see companies springing up with good quality environmentally friendly alternatives


  5. Hi Debbie! I loved reading about your experience with how different traveling is when we consciously make an effort to put the environment first. I live in America but while studying abroad in the UK this Summer I realized how much LESS plastic straws were used! I loved your tips on how travelers can try and keep plastic out of their future trips.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great post, and it’s so nice to see so many life-minded people in the comments as well! I live in India, where a number of cities have actually banned single-use plastics in recent months, and while I have so much hope that something is finally being done, the implementation is sorely lacking and many people still get away with shameless plastic & single-use item usage.
    I also especially like that you’ve suggested people carry their own cutlery/crockery, in fact I’ve been seeing #BYOC and #BYOCselfie “bring your own cups” spreading – and hopefully it becomes normalised to a point where that’s expected of us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post to remind us to be eco-friendly travelers! I bring a small jam jar with me as a travel mug and it also works for take away too as I bring my own cutlery along with me as well. It gets funny looks but it makes a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so good! Posts like yours are really interesting to read and very interesting too! There’s a new website that had a good idea about a Knuckle-Month Challenge that I’m going to use your straw tips for. I think the website is, by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wonderful! Yes, yes and yes. I love the insertion of how to say, “No straw please” in other languages (I am going to teach that in our spanish class tomorrow!) Thanks so much for that – !

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Plastic bottles and bags are my bugbear in Portugal, they are everywhere. We have reusable versions and are always at the market insisting we don’t need bags!

    Loving your other tips. Great post x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent advice! I am feeling particularly overwhelmed by the scale of the problems facing the world right now, but figure doing what I can is infinitely better than ignoring it on the basis the problem is “too big.”

    Liked by 1 person

      • That is true. Our supermarkets have finally stopped giving away single-use bags, and are beginning to address other disposable packaging. In some of the smaller places I shop my re-usable totes are still met with surprise, but less so than a year ago.

        Liked by 1 person

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