How to Travel Sustainably on a Budget
When the term “sustainable tourism” first became popular in the travel community, there was an unspoken assumption that sustainability also meant pricey. True, there is a slew of high-end ecotourism hotels across the world that promise eco-friendly accommodations and low-impact excursions, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s all about finding a balance between the environmental, social, and economic components of tourism when it comes to sustainable travel. This entails emphasizing local experiences, promoting environmental goals, reducing waste, promoting economic development in tourism-affected regions, and conserving resources.
Contrary to common opinion, sustainable travel does not have to be expensive; in fact, it is frequently less expensive. Supporting your host economy may provide a far more fulfilling experience and long-term employment for locals while conserving natural resources ensures that future generations of travelers can enjoy them. Furthermore, if you’re traveling around the world or just down the street, sustainable travel methods may be used almost anyplace. Here are the 10 easy methods to save money while traveling sustainably.
1. Opt for Locally-Owned Accommodations
High-end hotels are usually always more expensive and inefficient, with a few exceptions. Rather, book rooms in smaller, family-owned establishments such as B&Bs or even campers to put your money straight into local pockets. Don’t be hesitant to look into hostels, which are more likely to be operated by locals and where you’ll be less likely to be compelled to pay high resort fees. Take some time to look into a hostel’s or local accommodation’s responsible tourism practices, just as you should conduct your homework on the hostel’s or local accommodation’s safety and quality ahead of time.
2. Shop at Farmers Markets
Local farmers’ markets are a traveler’s dream come true. In just one stop, you can support family farmers and the local economy while also eating healthier and saving money. Because moving food over great distances produces more CO2, one of the indirect benefits of shopping at a farmers’ market is that it helps to conserve the environment. You save a lot of money by not eating out when you buy your ingredients at a farmers market to create a couple of meals.
3. Choose Public Transportation Over Car Rentals
Car rentals are one of the most expensive aspects of a holiday, and the rates at the airport car rental desk are by far the most expensive. When you factor in the hidden fees and insurance charges, you’re looking at a significant reduction in your vacation budget. While there are times when hiring a car is required, environmentally conscious visitors should constantly look for alternatives to reduce pollution by taking public transportation, renting a bike, or walking instead of driving. A further alternative is to rent a car for only part of your journey to save money on gas and parking. To be prepared, do some study ahead of time on your destination’s public transportation and how to get around.
4. Travel During Shoulder Season
When it comes to tourist locations, we’ve all heard of high season and low season, but what about the period in between? It turns out that the shoulder season, which comes after the busiest season and before the slowest, has a lot of hidden benefits. The slow season for a place frequently coincides with the worst weather, whereas the busy season attracts big crowds and, as a result, higher prices to match demand. Shoulder seasons offer the best of both worlds for travelers because the weather hasn’t entirely shifted and organizations are starting to offer better deals. You’ll save money while supporting local businesses during a less profitable time of year, and you won’t be contributing to congestion or strained resources during seasonal peaks.
5. Opt-Out of Flying
Air travel accounts for 3% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is predicted to grow as the tourism industry recovers and develops. When flying is not an option, consider alternate forms of transportation such as trains or buses to get from point A to point B. Traveling by rail is almost always cheaper (and considerably more enjoyable) than flying, especially in regions like Europe with well-organized train systems. If you have your heart set on a destination that can only be reached by plane, consider purchasing carbon offsets to offset emissions in other parts of the world. To save baggage costs and decrease the load, no matter the mode of transportation you pick, try to pack as lightly as possible.
6. Support Natural Conservation Areas
National parks and wildlife reserves provide a plethora of long-term benefits. Natural conservation areas are affordable to visit, in addition to being a low-impact attraction that minimizes detrimental environmental effects (and many have package deals for yearly passes). You’re supporting the organization’s conservation work and helping to ensure its continued protection by paying the entrance fee. When it comes to animals, look for legitimate wildlife sanctuaries that rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals back into the wild. Check to verify if zoos and aquariums are certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
7. Visit Museums
Because museums are vital to a destination’s tradition and history, they are frequently supported by government grants or private donations to keep entry rates low or free. Including a museum on your trip itinerary allows you to have a better grasp of the culture of the place you’re visiting while also supporting local jobs. Similarly, a slew of tourism organizations arranges cultural demonstrations for low or no cost, promoting cultural preservation and supporting local performers.
8. Stay in the Same Place for Longer
Slow travel is when travelers spend longer time in one location rather than moving from one location to the next as rapidly as feasible. The latter approach may allow you to cross off more must-see attractions from your bucket list, but it may not be as enjoyable of a vacation. Overtourism and overcrowding of infamous tourist areas can occur when people focus on seeing as much as possible in a short length of time. To save time, they may wind up paying more money on transportation and supporting international chain corporations. Visitors who stay in the same town, on the other hand, are more inclined to move outside of the crowded tourist areas and visit smaller locally-owned shops, reinvesting money back into the local economy.
9. Stay Close to Home
Consider staying closer to home on your next trip, as domestic travel emits fewer pollutants than foreign travel. Furthermore, overseas travel is expensive, to the point that we normally plan and save for months or years. Instead, go to a nearby little town or a local attraction you’ve always wanted to see; it’s astonishing how many local gems we ignore in favor of major international vacations. It’s less expensive, takes less time, benefits adjacent communities, and doesn’t necessitate the use of passports or pricey visas. Perhaps most importantly, you may discover a new diamond in the rough.
10. Don’t Forget Your Reusables
Any frequent traveler will attest to having been forced to purchase a $5 bottle of water at the airport at some point. When shopping or eating out, reusable water bottles, coffee cups, portable utensils, and fabric tote bags come in handy while also saving you money on single-use items. Investing in a refillable, reusable travel-sized container for cosmetics, beauty products, and bathroom supplies is also a good idea for environmentally conscious travelers. Additionally, you won’t have to spend additional money on single-use travel-size bottles, which contribute to plastic pollution.