5 Tips for Eco-Travel on a Budget

16 June 2010

Below is a guest post by youngandthrifty, creator of (you guessed it) youngandthrifty.ca, a Canadian personal finance blog focused on saving you money. Youngandthrifty wants to share some tips on how to travel sustainably AND cheaply. Two birds with one stone- how about that?

As you probably know, green is the new black. With everything that's been happening to our beautiful planet earth (earthquakes, tsunamis, global warming, and the BP oil spill to name a few) these days, we should be trying to preserve our precious mother earth as much as possible.

With summer holidays just around the corner, here are some tips on how to travel on a budget, and at the same time, reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Online Reservations

HotelSave money on gas, transit costs, and parking (also save your sanity by avoiding traffic and road rage) by booking your reservation online.

By leaving your car at home, you aren't adding to the greenhouse gases.

Online reservations for flights, hotel bookings through search engines like Kayak, Priceline, Vayama, and Hotwire really do save you some serious cash when, compared to full-service travel agencies.

2. Rent an Apartment

Napartmentext time you travel, consider either a house swap (you live at their house, they live at yours, kind of like in the movie The Holiday) or renting an apartment instead of staying at a hotel. Some house swapping websites are: HomeExchange, Home For Swap , and Digsville.

Not only will this be cheaper, it will also be more ecologically friendly. You can bring your own towels (the super-harsh chemicals that are used to bleach towels at hotels aren't exactly "green"), cook your own meals (loads of money can be saved here instead of eating out three meals a day), and not have to tip the housekeeping daily (because there isn't any housekeeping...lol!)

3. Take the Train or the Bus

TrainIf you're traveling around North America, instead of flying (and paying the airport tax, fuel surcharge...the list goes on), taking the bus or the train (Amtrak) is a great idea, especially if you have a little more time to spend. For certain shorter routes, you can save an average of 40% by taking a train compared to flying.

The Traveler's Notebook has a great list of 21 Trains that are Cheaper than Flying. The carbon footprint of an airplane is astronomical-- I have a friend who vows never to take another plane again for this reason. Besides, by taking a train or bus instead of the flying, you'll also avoid dealing with airport security, which these days, can be a hassle to say the least.

4. Have a Stay-cation

ParkRediscover the place you live in. There must be many places within your state or province that you have always wanted to go to. Look up the tourism website dedicated to the place you call home- you'd be surprised to read about all the activities you can do.

Going camping is another ecologically sound cheap travel idea... it's fun and relaxing- you don't need to plan to go anywhere or worry about anything. All you need to worry about is making sure the beer is kept cool.

5. Don't Buy Bottled Water

WaterIf you're traveling to a destination where the tap water might be a little suspect (read: massive traveler's diarrhea which will hinder your travel plans and make you completely miserable), instead of paying for bottle water to drink and brush your teeth with (which can cost anywhere from $0.30/Litre in India to $5.00/400mL if you *gasp* ordered it in an upscale restaurant in Australia or North America) get a water treatment system in place.

Some water treatment systems I have used and have been successful are the Chlorine Dioxide drops and the MSR MIOX system. The MIOX system is pricey (will set you back $130 CAD), but all you'll need is salt to keep it going- very sustainable in my opinion.

I have heard that bleach tablets are also good. Not only will you be saving some money (we drink about 2L a day, that can add up if you're buying water all the time), you'll also be saving the environment by decreasing the amount of plastic bottles littering the earth. Many developing countries don't have a recycling system in place to recycle the plastic water bottles that tourists use, so it all ends up polluting the environment. Not a good thing.

Conclusion

Those are all the tips I can muster up! Now, I hope everyone has a ecological and frugal (but fun) vacation!

Note from Anna - if you write a Canadian blog and would be interested in writing a guest article for Bargainmoose, please feel free to drop me a line. Thanks for the article youngandthrifty!

4 comments

  • Avigayil
    Regarding the whole rent an apartment bit: For my upcoming honeymoon my fiance and I decided we didn't want to stay in a hotel for it, and we (I) decided we didn't want to camp for it. We wanted.. something in between. We found a fabulous suite to rent for 1 week via the website: http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/canada We paid allot less than a hotel... and as campsites have gone up a whole lot in the last little while... not horribly more than a fully equipped campsite. We have our own kitchen, the comfort of a bedroom + mini living room.
  • youngandthrifty
    Hi Avigayil, I used VRBO too! I used it a couple of times for my snowboarding trips to Kelowna. It was good- thanks for mentioning that, forgot about that one. =)
  • robin
    i just wanted to say as a travel agent if you feel confident about booking things on line by yourself then you should feel confident when something goes wrong to fix it yourself. When things go wrong the first thing someone does is not try to contact the website they booked though but contact the closest travel agent near them to try to fix it. people need to remember we are there for them and unlike populaar belief we are still usually cheaper then a website even if you have to pay for gas or transit to get to us.
  • joy
    Sorry Robin but I have never had a travel agent be cheaper. EVER! I travel frequently and have never had an issue that wasn't able to be resolved through the website I booked with. Honestly I have had much better results booking on my own- price, upgrades and customer service.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment