For the adventurous traveler, bearing an ecologically minded worldview can function like a death knell for any grand travel plans. After all, unless you’re traveling by foot, bike, or camel, you’re probably creating at least a semi-heavy carbon footprint.
Add to that concern, the fact that the best in ecological travel tends to be on the pricier side, and travel can seem too costly to both your wallet and the planet. Well, don’t give up just yet. There are ways to give into your wanderlust that will allow you to be ecologically responsible and watch your wallet at the same time.
Stick to a Budget
Being a financially fit person doesn’t have to preclude travel any more than being an environmentalist does. You just have to go about traveling as a financially fit person who’s also an environmentalist would. Because eco-travel has a reputation for being pricey, then, the first step you should take in your endeavor to save green and be green is to establish a budget for the trip you want to take.
Once you know the amount of money you have to work with, commit to staying within that amount as you research your options for greener travel. Consider setting aside some money to purchase carbon offsets, in order to counteract the effect your travel will have on your carbon footprint.
Air travel is by far the biggest polluter in the transportation world, but, as a rule, if it doesn’t take you long to get from point A to point B, emissions are likely to be higher. In order to green your transport a bit more, do the best you can to travel via slower means. Yes, you may probably have to take a plane to Barcelona, but once you’re there, travel by foot or bicycle.
If you’re able to budget for it, let your slow travel be part of your adventure. Walk, bike, or take the bus whenever you can. If you’re really serious about green travel, sign up to work on a sailing vessel that’s headed to a destination you’ve always wanted to visit. Not only will you make money and gain new skills, but your carbon footprint will be miniscule in comparison to flying.
Eat Local Wherever You Are
The farm-to-table movement has done a world of good across North America in terms of better tasting and healthier food and fewer greenhouse gases in the food chain. In many parts of the world, however, there never needed to be a return to local food, because people never sought to get around it. So, do your research.
Eat where the food is locally produced, whether you purchase it from a street food vendor, a bakery, a restaurant, or a market. Eating local food — wherever you are — goes a long way toward ensuring a healthier planet, and from an economic perspective, it keeps money in the pockets of the people who actually live where you’re visiting.
Bring a Water Bottle
One of the most commonly given pieces of travel advice is to only drink bottled water, but for the traveler who’s trying to stay green and save money, that advice is tough to follow. So, bring a water bottle and use it to stay hydrated.
If you’re traveling to a region where the water is likely to make you sick, be sure to pack some chlorine dioxide tablets, or, if you’ve run out or are on a rationing plan with them, fill your water bottle up with low-alcohol beer. Some tourist destinations now also provide filtered water stations where you can fill your bottle up without worry, too.
One of the easiest ways to wed your love for the planet with your desire to save money is to sleep sustainably. Skip out on fancy hotels or anywhere else you might take up a whole room to yourself, and opt instead for hostels, campsites, and other shared spaces.
You can even arrange to rent a room from a local family in some places. Another option is to travel overnight. Especially if you have a lengthy train or bus ride on your itinerary, book it so that it lets you travel while you sleep.
Traveling green means traveling light. A light pack keeps unnecessary weight from increasing fuel use in transportation, and a light bag won’t tire you out so you resort to taking cabs everywhere when you’d intended to walk. It will also allow for greater peace of mind, since you’ll have much less to keep track of if you have only a few items with you.
Love the earth and love to travel, and save money while you do both with these six tips.