Dumpster Diving While Travelling

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips

If you are an experienced backpacker and love long trips, you know that it can be pretty difficult especially when it comes to money.

Often, to save some money, you need to eat cheap food at street stalls, hitchhike and look for couch surfing options constantly.

If you’ve ever been to a situation when you have almost no money but you need some food and fresh clothes, this article will help you to find the way out.

There is a new trend that is very popular among backpackers recently.

It will help you get some food, clothes and even some useful things absolutely for free.

The only thing you need to do is some dumpster diving.

You are right, we are talking about trash.

While it is usually a place for various stinky garbage and broken things, you can also find some really great things.

You only need to have some patience and be ready for messy and hard work.

What is Dumpster Diving?

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide

There are lots of animals who do dumpster diving to get some food.

Humans can also do it but they also have some superiority due to opposable thumbs.

Dumpster diving is a process of looking for food and useful things in trash or dumpster.

There are lots of countries where dumpster diving became a real mainstream, especially among backpackers and travelers.

Dumpster diving can provide you not only with some food or clothes but also with some valuable things that can be sold for cash.

Who Can Do Dumpster Diving?

When it comes to those who can do dumpster diving, there are no restrictions.

It can be a great option for backpackers, students, and those people who have a very tight budget.

Also, it can be an option for people who look for a sustainable lifestyle.

In such a case, dumpster diving is often called urban foraging.

According to the data, about 1/3 of the food that was thrown is pretty good and absolutely edible.

More than 1 billion tons of food is thrown to dumpster annually which is a sad statistics.

It is hard to imagine but every year Americans throw away food that is worth about $165 billion.

Nowadays, dumpster diving is a way to save all this food and money.

The truth is that dumpster diving can be a very fruitful activity so you should consider learning how to be a pro dumpster diving.

Just consider it as a source of a fresh meal and high-quality and almost new clothes.

How to Do Dumpster Diving Properly

If you want to become a successful dumpster diver and avoid various problems, you need to learn how to do it properly.

It is not illegal to take someone’s rubbish as it is not private property but you need to be careful when it comes to trespassing.

When it comes to trespassing and scavenging, each state and country has its own laws and rules.

It means that you need to check these laws first of all if you are going dumpster diving.

The fact is that when it comes to laws and legacy dumpster diving is a grey area so remember some common rules.

When dumpster diving, try not to look suspicious and if there is an issue with police, follow the instructions and be respectful.

In other words, if you are asked to leave don’t try to argue and do it as soon as possible.

The best time to go dumpster diving is early morning.

The reason that there are fewer employees around and numerous grocery stores throw away food that is day-old during this time.

Also, it is easy to look around as it is already some light while at night you need to hold a flashlight while searching smth in the garbage.

Best Places to Go Dumpster Diving

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Places


Tons of absolutely edible food is just thrown away daily. 

The reason is that supermarkets cannot sell items with an exceeded use-by date so they need to get rid of all these products.

In most cases, this food is perfectly edible for a couple more days so visiting a supermarket dumpster, you can find a variety of fresh products.

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Supermarkets


Most students just throw away lots of things when moving away from a dorm.

Visiting dumpsters near college dorms, you can find some bedding, different furniture, and other things.

The best time to go dumpster diving near a college is right after students moved out.

Look Online

As we said, dumpster diving became very popular and now there are numerous related communities on the Internet.

Just make a little search and find one in your area.

In most cases, other street scavengers are ready to share their knowledge so you’ll be able to learn about great dumpster diving places near you.

What Things You Can Look For

Of course, the list of things that you can find while dumpster diving depends on your location and targeted items.

Among the universally useful things, there are such options as:

  • Cables;
  • Clothing;
  • Decorations;
  • Footwear;
  • Furniture;
  • Sealed food (never eat opened food found in a dumpster!);
  • TVs, DVD players, Speakers, Printers;
  • Wood/Lumber.

Be Careful!

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Safety

You need to be very careful when going dumpster diving especially when it comes to food.

If you eat something bad you can get a stomach illness that is especially frightful when you are traveling abroad. 

It is better to look for not expired food.

Also, make sure it doesn’t smell bad or look strange and remember that perishable products can contain harmful bacterias if heated over forty degrees.

The list of safe products for dumpster diving includes boxed cereals, bread, canned food, and slightly bruised vegetables and fruits.

Try to avoid meat, seafood, sprouts, diary, and unpasteurized juice.

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Safety Issues

Of course, you can be lucky enough to find a good piece of meat or even a whole chicken or turkey in a dumpster but it is pretty rare and you should be very careful.

If you have any concerns about the food you’ve found it is better to throw it away as it isn’t worth the risk!

Tips for Happy Dumpster Diving

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Experience

The most difficult point about dumpster diving is to overcome the idea that it is unhygienic and dirty.

We all tend to think that there is a reason to throw things away.

However, as soon as you overcome this issue, you’ll be surprised by the number of great things that can be found in a dumpster.

Below, there are some great tips for happy dumpster diving.

Look for Things That Aren’t in Dumpsters

If you don’t feel like actually diving into a dumpster, you can always just look through the things that are placed around the dumpster.

It can be some furniture, or some recyclable items and even food near supermarkets.

Wear Appropriate Clothes For Dumpster Diving

It is easy to understand that dumpster diving has nothing to do with a fashion show.

Going dumpster diving, it is better to give preference to your oldest unions, shirts with long sleeves, and long trousers.

Speaking of footwear, make sure to choose something that closes your toes, for example, sneakers or boots.

One other important thing is some protective clothes such as work gloves.

It will help you stay safe, protect yourself from cuts, bruises, dirt, and so on.

Also, there is for sure a bunch of germ filthy things you shouldn’t touch with bare hands.

T-shirts, flip-flops, and shorts aren’t suitable for dumpster diving!

Equip Yourself

Traveling, Dumpster Diving, Guide, Tips, Equipment

As we’ve already mentioned, going dumpster diving, you need to have a pair of thick work gloves.

Also, there is a variety of equipment that can make dumpster diving easier and safer for you.

The list includes such options as:

  • Gloves – give preference to working gloves or at least plastic gloves;
  • A crate or stepping stool – it will help you with hard to reach areas and give easier access dumpsters;
  • Plastic bags – it is a real must-have at least if you don’t want to leave a dumpster as soon as your hands are full;
  • Flashlight or headlamp (if you are going dumpster diving in darkness);
  • Hand sanitizer – It is the first thing you should use right after a session of dumpster diving;
  • A knife or a multi-tool is necessary for opening trash bags or dismantling various items;
  • Pliers/screwdrivers are pretty helpful for those who look only for parts of different gadgets and items;
  • Transport – It will help you transport your finds or leave a dumpster quickly if necessary;
  • Fully charged cell phone – It is your savior in any emergency situation so always take it with you and keep it charged.

Going dumpster diving for a whole night, think about transportation so you can easily transport everything you’ve found.

A bike is a suitable option but it is better to have a car as you can put more things there and get home faster.

Stay Safe

Don’t forget that dumpster diving isn’t the safest activity.

There can be sharp things in a dumpster so you can get hurt seriously.

To avoid it, be very careful and watch around so you can spot dangerous objects such as used needles, broken glass, or sharp metal.

Clean Up After Yourself

After completing your “treasure hunting” make sure to clean up after yourself.

It is important to respect both your surrounding area and the local scavenging community.

Put all trash bags you took from the dumpster back and ensure that the area looks exactly it was before you came.

It is especially important if you are going dumpster diving near supermarkets.

If you leave a mess, it is employees who’ll be obliged to clean after you.

Using this article with our tips, you can become a professional dumpster diver easily.

P.S. Some lucky people were able to find valuable pieces of art, jewelry, expensive watches, and so on, so be attentive!

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