There is an illusion that living a green life is expensive – but that’s not the case at all. In our “How Can I Go Green on a Budget?” series, we focus on different areas of your life where you can live more conscious of your environment AND finances. We’ll help you use what you already have so you can reduce your expenditures and impact on the planet.
Green Living on Vacation
Unsure about how to take your green lifestyle on your next vacation while staying within your budget? We’re here to help! When you pack these green tips for your next journey, it will be easier to stick to your vacation budget so you can spend money on creating real vacation memories.
1) Find Budget-Friendly Accommodations
Start by visiting websites like VRBO, HomeAway or AirBnB to rent entire apartments (or homes!) that come with kitchens, washer and dryers, and other amenities that you won’t find in typical hotels. Not only are such places roomier than a hotel, you’ll most likely be located in an actual neighborhood or somewhere “off the beaten path,” away from the main highways. Staying in someone’s home or vacation rental will give you that extra bit of “local flavor.”
2) Save on Your Food Expenses
If you do book a house or condo like we suggested above, you’ll probably have access to a refrigerator, oven, and stove. Since eating out is one of the most expensive parts of going on vacation, take advantage of being able to cook your own meals.
We’re not suggesting you don’t eat out at all, since part of the magic of travel is trying flavors and foods from new regions. But purchasing the basics for breakfast and lunch – cereal, milk, salad fixings, and sandwich supplies – will help you control your vacation budget. It will also reduce your disposable wastes, since to-go food purchased from a convenience store or fast-food restaurant often comes with wasteful packaging.
3) Ride Bikes
Visiting a city that’s bike friendly? Reduce those greenhouse gas emissions by experiencing your destination on wheels. Many cities now have shareable bike programs that are affordable to rent for a few hours. Pack a picnic lunch, bring a blanket, and head out on wheels to enjoy a slower pace to your vacation.
4) Bring Your Reusable Water Bottle
If you don’t already own a sturdy reusable water bottle, get one! Fill up your bottle before heading out for the day, and fill it up as needed when you see a water fountain during your adventures. Buying one bottle of water when you get thirsty might not seem like a big expense, but the cost of multiple bottles will inflate your vacation budget. And then there’s that whole wasteful side of disposable water bottles that are filling up our waterways. Keep it green, keep it affordable, and bring your own bottle.
5) Plan Ahead for Tours
If you’re heading to a city where tours will show you a side of the city you might otherwise miss, then be sure and check for coupons online to help reduce your vacation budget. Be sure to check if booking a tour at certain times of day will shave a few bucks off the price. Besides, when you hop on a bus with other tourists, you’re reducing emissions by not using your own vehicle and lowering your stress by not driving in an unfamiliar city. Sit back, and enjoy the tour!
6) Turn Off the Lights
Whether you’re in a hotel or renting a home or cabin, turn off the lights when you’re not there. You can also save energy by turning up the air conditioner (or turning down the heater) when you leave for the day. We also recommend taking shorter showers, especially if you’re visiting a desert dwelling or an area experiencing drought conditions. There will no doubt be signs at your accommodations asking you to be thrifty with water if you are staying in a place where water is a precious commodity.
7) Leave the Souvenirs Behind
Getting out in nature is very affordable, and it’s is on the opposite cost spectrum from attending theme parks. Connecting with the great outdoors in a new locale reminds us why we want to live green in the first place.
It goes without saying that when you visit a state or national park, don’t take any flora or fauna with you when you leave, and be sure to leave no trace while you’re there. As tempting as it is to take one little rock home as a souvenir, our protected parks need everything left in place as you find it. And if you really need a souvenir, frame your park map when you get home!