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Travel Trip Tip #1: Water and Coffee

My traveling necessities
My traveling necessities

My friends, family and profession provide me with a nearly endless stream of adventure opportunities, and so I’m often on the go, whether on a snowshoe trip to Hurricane Ridge or teaching kayaking in Malaysia.

I absolutely love to travel, but being sustainably minded on trips is challenging.

This weekend I’m in Joshua Tree, California. While home is shrouded in clouds and awaiting a snow storm, I awoke to sunshine and ravens, rabbits and quail outside my window! A friend bought me a ticket to join her on this trip to Los Angeles, and her friend drove us up to get some sunshine here in the desert. I know, I’m spoiled J

While I’ve had to forego organic and free range, there are three things I do on trips to keep my sustainability sanity:

1. Refill water bottles at airports

I’m vehement about not using one-use plastic water bottles. The number of water bottles in landfills, in the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch and lining beaches around the world is appalling. The petroleum and chemicals that go into those bottles are an environmental hazard both as they’re being made and as they slooowly degrade.

So I carry a reusable water bottle with me absolutely everywhere. On road trips I prefer glass – I like the taste better and I don’t have to worry about the chemicals leaching from the plastic or metal. Since companies don’t state what chemicals are used inside metal water bottles, I stay away from those. If you find for sure that they’re harmless, let me know!

On trips where I’m going to fly, bike, hike or kayak I take a smallish plastic water bottle so I don’t have to worry about the glass breaking or being too heavy.


When flying, I take my purse that this little water bottle can fit in. I also often take my rolling suitcase that has a pocket on the side where I can put a larger water bottle.

I drink water all the way to the airport and make sure my bottle is empty before I get to security. After going through security I find a drinking fountain and fill up the bottle again. I often drink that while I’m waiting, then refill one last time before boarding.

This way I don’t have to use the water from the plastic bottles the airlines use and I’m not so dehydrated when I land at my destination.

2. Refill water bottles at gas stations or fast food restaurants

Amidst the candy bars and endless energy drinks, gas stations have a secret little sustainable option.

There is a little tab on almost every soda machine where you can get cold, delicious water…for free!

If the gas station soda fountain doesn’t have a tab, a nearby fast food restaurant certainly will. I have refilled my water bottles thousands of times this way and not once have I had a clerk complain.

If a clerk looks grumpy or suspicious as I walk in, I hold up my water bottle, put on a smile and say, “just filling my water bottle, ok?” They always nod their heads and often will point me in the right direction.

3. Take a reusable coffee cup

A reusable coffee mug is a staple on my travel list. I take a dilapidated one because I’m prone to losing things, though the one I have now has been with me for quite some time.

It may be ugly, but it does it’s job!

Rather than get coffee or tea in paper, plastic or styrofoam cups with plastic lids that get thrown away after one use, I put hot drinks in my own cup…and often get a little discount for doing so.

OK, I’m off to fill my water bottle and coffee cup, then to enjoy the sunshine. I’ll try to bring some home with me!

What do you do to “be green” while traveling? I’ll periodically post travel tips and I always love to learn more.

Happy Travels,








5 thoughts on “Travel Trip Tip #1: Water and Coffee

  1. Hey Spring, another well-done post. When you asked for more ideas, it got me thinking in reverse a little bit… You know me, a little contrary, right?

    It made me think of how frugal and naturally green we are in our travel lives, through necessity. And how comparatively huge our footprints are when home. For example…

    My wife and I spent a month in Europe last year, took everything we needed in two carry-on size suitcases and two small backpacks, never used a washer or a dryer, and walked or used public transport everywhere we went. Before you say eeeewwww about the laundry thing, we brought little bottles of biodegradable soap, did our wash in the bathroom sink, and air dried everything. We had an amazing time, loved the smaller-is-better European attitude, and didn’t really miss our oversized lifestyle back home.

    Regardless, when we got home we went immediately back to American living — closets full of clothes that suck energy and give back pollution in our washers and dryers, regular trips to Costco and all its packaging overkill, SOV transport, huge meals and a fridge full of leftovers destined for the garbage can.

    I guess the point, and an interesting twist on your column this week, is that we can look directly at the way we live when traveling if we want to find natural ways to live greener every day.

  2. What a great perspective Bill! I agree that traveling with few possessions is a great way to remember that we don’t need all the “stuff” we surround ourselves with, nor do we need to be so obsessed with cleanliness. I lived out of my backpack off and on for a few years and spent some summers camping more than sleeping inside, and I loved the freedom it afforded me.

    Keep up the great comments!

  3. What/if any are the concerns with tiny residues from the plastic bottles entering the water after extended use? Are there specific types of bottles we should be looking for?

    Thanks Spring!!

  4. That’s a great question 🙂 I found this page to be very helpful regarding the pros and cons of the many types of plastic we use in our daily lives:

    Each type of plastic has a number, and it looks like #1, #3, #6 and #7 are the worst as far as potential leaching of chemicals into your body and the environment.

    A nasty note – two of those numbers are commonly used in baby bottles and other baby related products! Yuck. And scary.

    This site states this about plastic bottles with the #1: “It is intended for single use applications; repeated use increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. PET plastic is difficult to decontaminate, and proper cleaning requires harmful chemicals. Polyethylene terephthalates may leach carcinogens.”

    Thanks again for the comment! I may do a post specifically about plastics…

    Happy Adventuring,

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