Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vegan Travel Guide: Traveling on a Budget

At a bus stop in the English countryside
When you're self-employed and have a love of travel, you have to get creative. I've tried couponing and other strategies to save money, but most were challenging to apply to a vegan, eco-friendly lifestyle. Instead, I focused on saving money on the trips themselves to make each journey more affordable.


Almost everyone is a member of a frequent flier program or knows how to tack on a few vacation days at the end of a business trip. But did you know you can get domestic and international tickets for free each year by utilizing a series of strategies known as travel hacking? I recently found out about this wonderful startegy (thanks, Chris Guillebeau!) and am well on my way to flying to Japan for free. If you're looking for a place to get started, I highly recommend Chris Guillebeau's Frequent Flyer Master.

Eco Tip: If you're worried about the carbon footprint of your flights, consider purchasing a carbon offset. You could also extend your vacation or take advantage of stopovers so you can visit more destinations with each roundtrip flight.


While one of the better-known strategies is to book one room and split the cost with a friend or loved one, there are many other excellent strategies. Consider staying in a hostel that offers affordable, private rooms. I stayed for a week in Tokyo for just over $300 using this method.

Some people swear by CouchSurfing, but I've never been brave enough to try it as a single woman. There are also some more advanced techniques such as taking advantage of price matching guarantees and expert use of Priceline, both of which are covered in detail in Frequent Flier Master as well.

Eco Tip: When staying in a hotel or other lodging for multiple nights, remember to request to reuse your linens for the duration of your stay.


Once you've arrived at your destination, one of the best ways to find affordable travel is to think like a local. In London and Tokyo, this usually means taking the train. In Costa Rica, you might want to take a taxi or a bus. Look for special deals on travel; sometimes airfare is cheaper than trains, especially if you can get a special pass before you leave. Just remember that guided tours, cruises, and taxis are often the most expensive forms of travel.

I also recommend reading up on local transportation before you go. In some cities, it's safest to take a taxi while in other cities the buses or trains will be much safer and cleaner than what those in the U.S.

Eco Tip: Use public transportation when possible to save on transportation costs. Also consider going on foot or renting a bike, which double as excellent ways to get in a little exercise.

What to Bring

Solid Shampoo
My father used to frequent R.E.I. each week, looking for the ultimate luggage and travel gear. He always encouraged us to pack light, and someday I'd love to travel internationally without a check-on bag. This has become increasingly easy in recent years due to the packaging of many products for ease of travel.

Some of my top picks for travel include castile soap, solid shampoo, a versatile conditioner, powdered face wash, and a compact towel. The bare basics for cosmetics would be windup eyeliner, mascara, and (tinted) lip balm. For entertainment, I recommend a basic Kindle (for the 30-day battery life) or other eReader, especially since many libraries loan out eBooks! And don't forget the snacks.

Eco Tip: When traveling, choose cosmetics and toiletries that will last a long time and can be used for a variety of purposes. Also, consider leaving power-hungry electronic devices at home, especially if traveling somewhere that requires a power converter.


Most of us have been on trips where we have to pick out something for everyone, from our next-door neighbor to the great aunt you see once every five years. Instead, I encourage you to take plenty of pictures and create a keepsake, such as an eco-friendly calendar, when you return. If you really must buy something, look for a sustainably-produced or consumable souvenir.

Eco Tip: There's a reason why airlines started charging for checked bags. Increased weight uses more fuel and takes a heavy toll on the environment over time. My favorite strategy is to pack a healthy supply of snacks before I leave, which frees up space in my suitcase throughout the trip as the food is consumed. Aim to return with the no more than the baggage you brought with you.

With a few of these strategies, you'll soon be traveling for less. Click here to see the other articles in the Vegan Travel Series.

What are your favorite ways to save money when traveling? Leave them in the comments below!

Disclosure notice: Product mentioned in this review were sent to me free of charge by the manufacturer for review. No additional compensation was accepted and the opinions are my own. Please verify any claims with the manufacturer, especially if you have any allergies or concerns.

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