Modern day status symbols have moved on. New tech pales in comparison to climbing Machu Picchu – with 72 per cent of millennials preferring to spend money on the experiential, rather than the material.Sadly, getting on a plane is one of the worst things we can do for the planet. One return flight from London to New York produces more carbon (1.2 tons of CO2, using Department for Transport figures) than one person's yearly allowance to protect the climate. Eco-adventurer Monica Rosquillas blogs about sustainable travel on Girl For A Clean World. She's put together a few steps we can take to lessen our impact on the world while travelling – to make getting lost in the Costa Rica rainforest or watching the lazy Sri Lankan sunsets better for everyone. 1. Pack light "Travelling light has so many benefits," says Monica. "You reduce your greenhouse emissions and when you only have a small bag to pack for your travels, you'll avoid over-shopping in preparation for your trip or buying too much once you're there." Get organised and create detailed lists of everything you need for each stage of your journey, from airport to treks to the journey home.
Bringing a reusable water bottle can save buying hundreds of plastic ones, but did you know there are other reusable items you can take with you? "Reusable cutlery set will come in handy when visiting food fairs and outdoor markets. A tote bag is essential for shopping at the market, getting takeaway or buying souvenirs," says Monica. "Reduce waste even further by packing what you already have at home - like camping utensils - instead of buying something new." 4. Refuse disposable plasticsEight million tonnes of plastic trash flow into the world's oceans each year. Say no to plastic straws, plates, cutlery and other single-use plastics to reduce your waste while travelling. "When eating at a restaurant, always ask for no straw. Choose restaurants that serve food without disposables. Ask for no bags when shopping. Request a glass of water instead of buying a bottle. Choose local fruit instead of prepackaged snacks," notes Monica. "You might start out refusing only straws, and after a few days, you'll realise how much plastic we use and find more opportunities to say no." 5. Conserve natural resources When staying in a hotel or Airbnb, it's easy to forget about our water and energy use. But it's just as important to conserve natural resources in your Balinese beach shack as it is at home. "Conserve local water by taking short showers, reusing hotel towels, avoiding food waste and skipping baths," says Monica. "Save energy by turning off the AC when you're not in the room, or better yet, choose a fan room instead." 6. Leave only footprints, take only photographs You're walking down a beautiful white sandy beach in Thailand and you find that one-of-a-kind shell that would make a perfect holiday souvenir. It might be tempting to bring this treasure home, notes Monica, but they are important to the local ecosystem and should be left untouched. Practice the Leave No Trace principles. 7. Give back to local communities
Travelling to foreign countries gives us wonderful experiences and memories just by being there. The act of giving back can very rewarding for yourself as well as beneficial to locals. "It could be as simple as picking up trash from a trail or beach," suggests Monica. "Donating or volunteering with a local non-profit organisation if you are travelling long-term can be a truly special part of your trip." Take a look at these volunteer projects you can join in south-east Asia. 8. Be mindful when you go shopping It is so tempting to shop like crazy when you're abroad, especially in Asia and Africa. Shop sustainably by only buying what you need and avoiding impulse purchases. "Buy handmade craft items that support local businesses," says Monica, "Better yet, invest your money in experiences instead of material goods." 9. Offset your travel emissions
Travel, especially air travel, is one of the most fossil fuel consuming things we can do. A single flight produces three tonnes of carbon dioxide per passenger, depending on the distance you travel. "You can lessen your impact by adding the cost of offsetting your carbon footprint into your travel budget," says Monica. Take a look at the Carbon Footprint website which helps transfer your money to carbon offset projects. 10. Get involved with local culture
"When we travel as tourists, often we miss out getting to know locals and their culture. Dive head first into a foreign land and you'll learn valuable life lessons," says Monica. "Immersion in another culture broadens our world view and makes us more compassionate, grateful humans, which in turn creates a better world." These experiences can be anything from talking to a stranger on the bus, sharing food with locals or spending a few days in a homestay in a remote village."