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4 Green Travel Tips That Save You Money

By Erik Folgate

Traveling is one of the harshest activities we engage in against the environment. We take transportation that pollutes the air, we produce a lot of waste, and we’re typically less conscious of conserving resources. I’m not a tree hugger, and I don’t come down on people for not recycling, because I think it needs to be a personal conviction to be better stewards of this Earth and our resources. There are several ways to travel greener AND save money at the same time.

Here are 4 tips that I try to follow:

  • Pack lighter. This is one of the most important green travel tips, and with all of the airlines trying to nickel and dime us nowadays, you can literally save hundreds of dollars simply by packing lighter. Many airlines charge $50 for every checked bag that’s over 50 pounds, and many charge for additional checked baggage. Packing lighter helps the environment, because it makes the airplane, car, train, or bus lighter, which allows it to use less fuel and run more efficiently. Choose pieces of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create dozens of different outfits. Also, take less shoes and bring eBooks with you instead of real books.
  • Bring a stainless steel water bottle with you. Choose a sturdy, stainless steel bottle that’s BPA free. You’ll save a lot of money on buying water bottles and you’ll use less plastic while on your trip.
  • Choose an economy-sized rental car. I would say choose a hybrid, but most rental car companies that offer them will charge a much higher rate than a compact or economy car. If space is not an issue for you, go with their smallest model, because the car will get great gas mileage, and it will be their cheapest rate. You’ll save money on gas, the rental rate, and you’ll be helping out the environment.
  • Buy snacks for your trip from your local farmer’s market. You’re supporting your local economy, and you’ll spend less on your food budget if you have some great snacks like peanuts, dried fruit, beefy jerky, and popcorn.
  • Unplug all of your appliances, close your blinds, and turn the water off. Preparing your house for no one to be in it for a little while can be a huge money saver. Your house will spend much less energy if everything is unplugged and the water is turned off.

I love knowing that what I’m doing is helping to preserve God’s beautiful creation, but one of the best auxiliary benefits of traveling greener is that it helps you save money at the same time. Some of you all are so creative, and I know you’ve got some sweet ideas for green travel that saves you money. Let’s hear them!

( photo credit: ingridz )

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • Emily D.

    You should also look into where you are staying. How often are they changing sheets and towels, can you choose to reduce it? Probably even more important is whether they follow any kind of environmental codes- it will vary a lot depending on what country you’re going to. Also are the activities you’re doing harming the environment?

  • gina

    When we are away, we try to find restaurants that offer fresh, in season, local foods. Many restaurants will advertise this (you can look online). Better for the local economy, the environment, and it is usually tastier!!

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    Some excellent tips there. I like to consider myself both a saver & an environmentalist, so I enjoy reading articles like this.
    However, does turning the water off really save anymore money than just not using any water? I’m not sure about that one…but if it’s true, I’ll definitely follow that next we’re on a vacation.

    And even better than a rental car is no car at all. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may be able to take mass transit instead. I plan to do just that next month when going to Vegas. No need for a car when you’re on the strip!

    • Winston C

      Well, that depends on where you are going. A lot of rural areas don’t offer mass transit, but most cities do. Personally, I hate driving. I prefer others driving for me while I enjoy the view.

    • Karmella

      In a major city, when traveling I am a huge fan of the metro or subway or whatever the local system is. I find it more convenient, easier to explore, and I love not paying to park a rental car. I do usually end up getting a car, for those out of town explorations (like Red Rock Canyon near LV – it was a nice break from the Strip), but if I’m not driving it so much it’s probably a net-net.

    • http://madsaver.com Mac

      Good points. It really does matter where you plan on traveling. If you plan on just being in one large city, then it’s certainly doable. And no worries about finding & paying for a prime parking spot!

      I actually love driving, but only if no one else is on the road…so it doesn’t really work out for me. :)

  • Chris

    If you live in the city, another tip is to take public transportation to the airport, to save on using car and polluting the environment.

  • Karmella

    My additional benefit to preparing my house for vacation is that I don’t have that “did I remember to turn off the ___, am I going to burn down the house?!” because I make it a habit to go through twice to make sure I’ve unplugged and turned off what I don’t need to have running while I’m gone.

    I find that it’s easier for me to start with the “shop local” idea and that leads me to greener practices. I think it might be by getting myself into a more personal, in touch with my surroundings, mentality.

  • http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com Small Footprints

    I really appreciate all the wonderful tips offered on Money Crashers and really, REALLY appreciate that you include “green” tips (which in most cases are also money savers).

    Many people give “green living” a vacation when they go on vacation … which is sad … as your brilliant post showed, there are so many ways to travel in an Eco-friendly way.

    Thanks, so much, for the tips!

  • http://www.yourfinances101.com/blog David/Yourfinances101

    Packing food probably saves us more money than anything when travelling. We can feed the four of us for probably ten bucks at lunchtime. Eating on the road would cost at least double that, and this is only talking about one meal

  • http://www.bucksomeboomer.com Bucksome Boomer

    I never thought about turning off the water but it’s a great idea. I’ve heard horror stories of in-home flooding due to water line breaks,etc.

    A good way to travel green is to choose the reuse option for hotel linens.

  • http://www.greenandchic.com/blog Carla | Green and Chic

    I have to remember to bring my water bottle with me next time I go to the airport. I always forget and end up having to buy $4 bottled water. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Elizabeth I

      Can you get the water bottle through security? I thought they made you throw out everything?

      • http://www.greenandchic.com/blog Carla | Green and Chic

        Not if there isn’t any water in it. Bring an empty bottle and use a water fountain.

  • Elizabeth I

    Also, if you bring your own toiletries and do not use the small sizes provided in most hotels, you will be reducing consumption of plastic bottles…too bad hotels do not reward you for not using this stuff.

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