How To Save Money, Save The Earth And Still Travel The World

Being a traveler and an environment hero is not easy – it’s close to impossible actually (anyone who wants to take on the challenge?). Since people became more aware of the destructive effect our lifestyles have, eco travel has become more and more popular.

However, with a few exceptions, it just seems like it’s really expensive to do. The Eco lodges and hotels are overpriced, and so is often the transport.

But there is a way of saving money and the planet – even on the road you can take eco-friendly steps:

1. Walk

We try to walk as often as we can when we’re traveling.

Sometimes we walk up to 8 km a day, and although every now and then we’re a little too optimistic about the distance, we’re also often surprised over how short it takes to get where we want.

Plus we see so many random things when we walk around; funny shops, houses, people, signs. All that stuff that passes by too quickly to get a good look at when you’re looking out from your tuk tuk or tour bus.

You really get a good look at what a city really offers by simply walking round.

2. Eat local fresh produce

If you buy food grown or produced in the country you are in, it’s often much cheaper than when you buy food that has been shipped from overseas.

This also saves on fuel and carbon, and if you buy fresh homemade things you’re free from those strange mechanical additions.

Even at a 7 eleven shop in Asia, you can choose between Oreos from America, or the same type of cookies made in a country much closer – the latter one being both cheaper and greener.

3. Buy large water cans, or preferably a water purifier

Buying 1 Liter water bottles several times a day is such a waste of plastic, and in the long run they are also more expensive than the larger bottles. If you don’t have a water purifyer then buy your water in 6 Liter bottles or larger, it saves money, plastic and lasts a few days.

4. Travel by train

Train is much friendlier for the environment than flying. If you’re traveling small distances, try to catch a train or bus over a flight. Often it doesn’t only save you money, but also time (remember check in and border time).

Sometimes it’s sadly cheaper to travel by plane than train, but buses are usually a real cheap way of getting around, and although it’s not completely green, it’s better to share a vehicle with 20 people than it is if we were all driving solo in a car each.

5. Skip the plastic bags

If you don’t really need a plastic bag, don’t take it “just because”. Reuse the ones you have, and when shopping food bring your daypack to pack your food in. In many countries the plastic bags cost extra as well, which adds up.

Plastic bag waste has become such a big problem that in some countries they’re not really allowed to give them when you buy things, India is an example of that.

6. Save the leftovers

I remember visiting a cafe in Vienna, where I bought a huge carrot cake that I couldn’t finish. I asked to get something to put it in so I could finish it later.

She was so happy that I asked, and told me that they throw away tons of food every day that people just left behind.

Asking to get a doggy bag really isn’t a problem, and if your meal is big you get two meals for one, rather than just leaving it on the plate.

7. Fly long distances with fewer stopovers

If you buy a flight ticket with a lot of stopovers, it sometimes looks cheaper than longhaul flights without any stops.

Remember though, that the hours waiting on the airport will make you bring out your wallet more than once for the overpriced food and the tempting Tax-Free products.

Often it is also cheaper from the start to fly a long distance, and not only is it more comfortable, saves you time and money, but it actually makes a HUGE difference to the earth as well.

Airplanes consume a lot more fuel during take off and landing than when it’s up in the air, so the fewer stops, the less pollution.

8. Pack light

A smaller bag means less space for clothes which means you can’t and won’t need to buy as much stuff, and can’t be tempted to buy all those unnecessary souvenirs. It also saves fuel for the planes, as it has to carry less weight. Imagine if we all traveled like Rolf Potts..!

9. Check in Online

It’s cheaper, it’s faster, it’s easier and it saves paper. What more do you need?

(photo credits: pedrosimoes7bridgepixKevin Coles – stu_spivack – albertopveiga)

15 Responses to How To Save Money, Save The Earth And Still Travel The World

  1. Ayngelina February 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I travel with a steripen and its awesome, anyone who wants to stop polluting with plastic water bottles should consider it.

    • Nathan - As We Travel February 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      we have been looking into buying one of those, the amount of plastic bottles people use over here in Asia on a daily basis is crazy – luckily some places offer cheaper re-fills.

  2. Breakaway Backpacker February 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Oh these are some great tips. I will be using these while I travel. I like #1 you help the environment & you help your body!!!

    • Nathan - As We Travel February 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      Thanks for the comment – yup walking is great on all counts, shame it would take so long to walk around the world :p

  3. Theodora February 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    In Thailand and other touristic parts of Asia you can refill water bottles in the street from purified water dispensers. Also, in most of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and parts of plenty of other developing nations you can drink the tap water, so don’t need to buy plastic bottles at all: it’s always worth checking with locals and expats.

    • Nathan - As We Travel February 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

      Hey Theodora, thanks for sharing that – we have noticed that as well, and love to re-fill our 1.5L bottles when we can find those places. Saves money & no need to throw out so much plastic.

  4. Sarah Wu February 5, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    I always save my leftover 😀

    • Sofia - As We Travel February 5, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      me too, but I rarely have any leftovers – I like food too much :P!

  5. Jimshu February 5, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Good tips. Just back from Ethiopia where everyone begs you for plastic bottles after you’ve finished them. Most people have to walk for miles to get water for their houses, so any container is valuable to them. Only place I’ve been where you chuck an empty plastic bottle out the window- and there’s a rush of kids to pick it up. Took a bit to get used to that. Would never do it elsewhere.

    • Sofia - As We Travel February 5, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      That’s pretty crazy, and sad..!

      In Sweden you get money back when recycling bottles (about 15-20 cents per bottle) so people always recycle them at the supermarket before going shopping.

      It’s a really good system I think, as it makes people really want to recycle and not just throw it away.

  6. enrolled agent cpe February 8, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    When I was in Taiwan, I noticed that convenience stores like 7-11 and Family Mart do not give out plastic bags. You really have to carry your items or bring your own bag. I think that works pretty especially if your only buying small items and then stores would give you this huge plastic bag.

    • Sofia - As We Travel February 8, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      I agree, once you’ve realized that they don’t give out plastic bags you make sure to bring a bag yourself next time.

      In Thailand they give you plastic bags with everything, even when buying a small bottle of nail polish – such a waste!

  7. Connie Hum March 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    I avoid taxis as much as I can. Public transportation or walking is such a better way of experiencing a new place!

  8. Katie Huffstutler May 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Excellent tips! I especially liked tips #2 and #4. Eating out can get pretty pricy and paying for a cab ads up quick as well. I will make sure to remember these on my next trip!

  9. Ali Sidd September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Hi these are some great tips. Here is a quick tip to add to your great list, I would like to suggest volunteer stays, helps you cut down on some major expenses like food and accommodation by volunteering with locals. Great site if you want to stretch your travel dollars.