The ultimate guide to travelling sustainably while on a budget

Yes, eco-lodges can be sustainable in the South of Portugal or yoga retreats in Costa Rica. But your trip doesn’t have to be expensive.

It’s not possible to afford luxury eco travel, but it’s possible. If we want sustainable travel to be the norm, it’s not always an option.

Sustainable travel is “avoiding depletion and maintaining an ecological balance.”

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to not travel at all. We understand that it is not an option many people would be willing to give up.

These are some things you can do when planning your next trip to reduce your carbon footprint.

First, bad news? Flying isn’t good for short distances especially.

It is not unusual for planes to burn huge amounts of fuel during take-offs and landings.

Roundtrip flights from London to Madrid can produce a warming effect equal to half a ton carbon dioxide per person. This means that getting to your destination will be the most carbon-intensive part of your vacation.

What can you do? Consider your options.

You generally get more green points if you take the train or drive (especially if there are more people in your car), an additional bonus if you use public transportation, and a big yellow star s for bicycling and walking.

Sometimes flying is necessary. These cases are when you should reward airlines that use or experiment with renewable biofuels such as Lufthansa and KLM.

Budget airlines can be a more environmentally friendly option.

Why? The reason is that they can load more passengers in the same space. This means that carbon dioxide emissions per passenger will automatically decrease. The same principle applies to flying coach, rather than business class.

Carbon offsets can be a great way to achieve a balance

Many airlines offer carbon offsets, which can be used to offset the environmental impact of your flight. These credits can be used to reduce carbon by planting trees, or other means.

Carbon offsets can be problematic, argue environmentalists, because they distract from the real problem: planes. If flying is your only option, offsets are still better than nothing.

Be light

The more weight of your luggage, the more fuel you will need to fly the plane. The total weight of an aircraft is affected by even small items like laptops, multiplied with the number of passengers.

You’ll also be more likely to take public transport if your luggage is lighter than a single ride in a taxi.

Enjoy longer vacations

Consider taking longer vacations to avoid the greatest environmental impact. You will also be able to save money. Many hotels and rental agencies offer discounts for guests who stay longer.

This chart includes both sporty and lazy vacations. You can think of beaches, camping, sailing, and cycling.

How about hotels?

Eco accommodation is not necessarily more expensive than standard accommodation.

Hotels with sustainability certifications should not be overlooked. There are many of them, including Green Globe and Green Leaders by trip advisor.

While some score higher than others, any accreditation is better than none.

Consider the hostel: The category is moving in the right direction.

Hostels are often just as good and as affordable as hotels. Some even have private rooms at a lower price.

Because they are more connected and aligned to the community, hostels have a better reputation for sustainability. They are also more respectful of local resources.

How do you choose where to go?

It is a good idea to give up big destinations or to rethink when you travel.

Overtourism is bad for our environment as it takes away the area’s natural resources. You will find more authentic, less-crowded and cheaper options if you stay off the beaten path.

It is possible to enjoy a vacation by biking or walking around a city like Paris or Rome.

The best way to ecotravel is the easiest, or not? It’s common sense.

Although it may seem obvious, common sense is important.

You can bike if you are unable to walk.

Public transport is an option if you are unable to bike.

If you rent a car, request a small, fuel-efficient car.

Reduce plastic use, or buy zero plastic.

Shop local whenever possible. Ask if you don’t know where to shop!