Traveling Light


I leave for the Conference on College Composition and Communication on Tuesday! Travel is a complex issue for me. Flying, hotel staying with all those single use items and loads of towels, and eating out can be so expensive — financially and environmentally! But sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind and go for the experience. It’s not every day that your project gets chosen to get presented at a national conference! My school awarded me a travel grant to help with airfare, hotel, and conference registration, but I have to do food and the miscellaneous expenses that always pop up when traveling on my own. I have a very tight budget. I also hate waste and could cry thinking of the paper coffee cups, trails of gasoline, and styrofoam containers I could possibly generate away from home. I’ve thought of a few things to mitigate this horror:

  • I’m bringing my Kleen Canteen for water. I’ll fill er up before leaving for the day, and anywhere I can at the conference. As long as you bring the bottle empty through security it’s ok to fly with. Yay — no plastic bottles on my trip! I stay hydrated! I spend no money on water!
  • I’m also bringing my hot beverage thermos for coffee and tea. Our hotel has a 24 hour free beverage station. I can get a nice container of coffee or tea to have in the morning, take some to to conference, and even make a nice cuppa herbal tea to sip and wind down at night — just like home! — and not use any paper cups. This will also save me some money. Again, bring the empty thermos through airline security and you’ll be ok.
  • I’m packing portable food. I’m taking some Kashi bars and Powerbars to keep with me. I’m also taking a container of mixed nuts, dried cranberries, and raisins from home. No $8 muffins at the conference center for me. No desperate I’ll eat anything whoops that was a $15 sandwich and didn’t even taste good. I’m going to save my limited funds for nice (but inexpensive) meals with friends and colleagues.
  • I’m keeping my ears open for activities where snacks are included. My professor has already sent us emails for the social events that include food and drinks. He understands. Not only are these good opportunities to meet people working in the discipline, but sometimes a glass of wine with some cheese and crackers is all you need to go with dreams and air, as my project partner said 🙂
  • I’m wearing comfortable shoes the whole time. This way, I can always choose walking over taking a taxi as long as it’s not, like, from the airport to our hotel. I also planned out my wardrobe so I have easy to wear and carry layers — no need to say, “I’m freezing (or sweating) I MUST take a taxi!” This is also important because most of our days run from 7am to 11pm — that’s a lot of temperature fluctuation (and wear and tear on your feet) to dress for!
  • I’m keeping my eyes out for a little store to buy additional provisions. We (needless to say, I’m sharing the room with my project partners — major money saving right there) have a mini-fridge and microwave in the room, and some bread and peanut butter and who knows what else (suggestions?) will make my food budget stretch and circumvent styrofoam takeaway nonsense. I’m all for the midnight-snack-as-meal.
  • I’ve brought all of those little free samples that somehow made their way into my possession for my toiletries. No buying of little travel sizes of my products or decanting into special containers or any of that business. I’m really happy that I didn’t spend a single soap coupon (or clothing coupon!) to prepare for this trip. And yay — I can finally use that Bliss shower scrub sample I’ve been holding on to because I don’t have a shower but only a bath at home!

Have you used a strategy to make you dollars go far when traveling, all whilst keeping waste to a minimum? I can use all of the help I can get! I would appreciate your comments.

If this was wartime, I would most likely not have been going too far from home — gas and rubber were rationed for the war effort. Also, the first 4Cs was not until 1950 (and I bet not too many women attended as participants!). I’m quite aware that this trip is a very special privilege on many levels.

I’ll let you know how it was, and how I did with my money and stuff budget when I return. Bon Voyage to Me!

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