Tips for Traveling Green on a Budget

in Ecotourism, Green Travel, Trip Planning

I read a lot on travel blogs and in travel magazines about traveling green or low-impact travel. However, did you know that traveling green also tends to be less expensive than more conventional modes of travel? From transportation to lodging, here are some helpful tips for traveling green and saving money in the process. After all, what could be better than that?

Transportation: Moving Around Ecologically


It’s true that flying is not exactly eco-friendly. Do your research before you book to make sure you are flying with airlines that recycle at least some of the waste created when serving food and beverages during the flight.  There are certain airlines like British Airways and Southwest Airlines that maintain a strong commitment to environmental health through a variety of initiatives. An easy way to do your part to help the environment when booking a flight is to use electronic tickets (e-tickets) instead of paper ones.

Public Transportation

It’s time to start thinking outside the box when it comes to transportation. Instead of automatically renting a car when you travel to a different place, check out the public transportation system in that location. From trains to subways to buses, most cities have the infrastructure to help you get where you need to go while saving the earth and saving money. If you’re worried about getting from the airport to your hotel, call ahead to see if they offer a complimentary van pick-up at the airport.

biking vacation photo

Biking is an eco-friendly form of transportation that allows tourists to remain autonomous and connect to people and places in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Biking and Rentals

Another option is to consider a bike tour. This can be a great way to really see the area you’re visiting and connect with places and people on a deeper level (not to mention the fact that it’s great exercise). In addition to being useful on longer adventures, bikes are a great way to get around a city (European cities are known for their “bike friendliness”) autonomously.  Many cities, such as Paris, now have user-friendly public bike rental programs that allow you to use a bike for as long or as short a time period as you would like.

Walking and Hiking

Walking tours are a great way to really get to know a city. In addition to going on guide-led walking tours, I’ve discovered many gems on my own by simply walking around a city (things I never would have found if I had been concentrating on driving a rental car). Going for a walk once you arrive at your destination is also an excellent way to stave off jetlag and sore muscles. If you’re into spending time in the great outdoors, considering a hiking trip (or at least make hiking a portion of your trip). Of course, it’s important to respect the local ecological system by not picking plants or wildflowers and staying on the marked hiking paths.

Lodging: Staying Green

Resorts and Hotels

Low-impact lodging has become a buzz phrase in the travel industry. As a result, many hotels and resorts have adapted their daily practices to become more environmentally friendly. Do your research before you book a room to make sure the hotel or resort recycles and participates in energy saving programs. Even if you find yourself staying somewhere that is not exactly green, you can still do your part to reduce your impact on the environment. Let the hotel management know that it is not necessary to change your towels and sheets every day while you are staying with them. Do the same things you would at home to save energy: turn off the AC/heat, lights and TV if you are not using them. Also, if you decide not to use the complimentary bottles of shampoo and soaps, leave them on the counter so that they can be passed on to the next guest.

Staying with Friends

Of course, few options are more eco- and budget friendly than staying with friends or acquaintances when you travel. And if they happen to be green as well (they recycle, engage in energy saving practices, drive hybrids, etc.), well that’s even better.


Of course, camping is generally a low-impact and inexpensive lodging option. If you don’t want to bring all of your camping gear with you, you can always rent tents and such on-site. Only camp in designated camping areas and make sure you leave the campground site exactly how you found it.

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