Incorporating these changes when thinking about your holiday or travelling can have a big impact on our environment, the wildlife we travel to conserve as well as local communities.

The basic tenets, as always, revolve around doing less, making it count and spending in a way that we can be proud of and can benefit the local economy both financially and socially.

The list below isn’t exhaustive, if you have more questions or thoughts on the suggestions then please do get in touch with us.

What to consider

Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Choose a positive impact property

There are a wealth of properties creating a positive impact on their local environment, the conservation of wildlife and also focussing on benefitting and giving back to communities. You can see some of our examples here. Simply by staying at the property you can allow for the positive impact to continue.

Whale watching for the climate

Whales are a nature-based solution to capturing carbon from human emissions. Whales accumulate carbon in their bodies during their long lives, some of which stretch to 200 years. When they die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean, taking the carbon with them.

Furthermore, wherever whales are found, so are phytoplankton. These tiny creatures produce every second breath we take, by contributing to at least 50% of all the oxygen in our atmosphere. They also capture about 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide or four Amazon forests’ worth. Whale poop has a multiplier effect on phytoplankton as it contains iron and nitrogen, the elements phytoplankton need to grow. So, the more whales, the more oxygen.

Protect our whales by protecting their oceans and go on a responsibly run whale watching holiday that helps conserve them.

Mountain gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Help make conservation profitable

Travel to see endangered species in their natural habitat, realising their economic potential for local communities. This helps sustain conservation whilst also promoting economic development.

Flagship examples exist around the world from mountain gorillas in Rwanda to snow leopards in Ladakh. In contrast, avoid captive animal experiences which generally don’t provide long term solutions to habitat decline.

Ponheary foundation girls on bikes waving

Contribute to girls education

Ensuring girls have access to education could result in a massive reduction in emissions of 51.48 gigatons by 2050. This is because educating girls has an impact beyond the individual, cascading into her family and her community. Education not only affords choice but ensures greater freedoms to learn and earn, giving women the choice to marry later and have fewer but healthier children. When travelling with Steppes you can see first hand some of the incredible work our Steppes Fund For Change partners do around the world in progressing girls education, examples include Ponheary Ly Foundation in Cambodia, Rainbow Centre in Sri Lanka, Bali WISE Foundation in Indonesia and Sambhali Trust in India.

Skeleton Coast from the air, Namib desert, Namibia

Fly less, make it count

Aviation accounts for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. As with many things we consume, we believe we need to consume less but make it worthwhile. Also, where possible, whilst in destination or crossing borders travelling overland is a better option – if not for the views alone. You could also take a small boat journey, some of our boat operators allow for guests to participate and collaborate in scientific research projects whilst on board. Research often focuses on disciplines like oceanography, glaciology, marine biology and plastic pollution, helping to directly contribute to better understanding climate change.

heron type bird flying at the chitwan national park

Fly smart

Non-stop flights are exponentially better for the environment, not only because you are travelling fewer miles but because as much as 50% of the carbon emissions of a flight comes from take off and landing.

Whilst it may help you get your beauty sleep, turning left and taking a seat that isn’t economy means that your carbon footprint is much greater for that flight. According to a study from the World Bank, the emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in economy. Essentially, in business class and first class, seats are bigger, so fewer people are being moved by the same amount of fuel.

Bike and sunset

The art of slow travel

A philosophy and practice that emphasises longer stays, alternative transportation (such as trains and bikes), longer stays at boutique properties, and lesser-visited destinations. The result? A deeper immersion into the destination and quite possibly a better holiday for you too.

Salkantay Trail, Sacred Valley, Peru

Pack light

Travel with only what you need. When you’re up in the air, the overall weight of the airplane can mean more it produces more carbon emissions. Not only will you help reduce emissions and make carrying your luggage a little easier but you’ll probably feel less regret for packing those items that you never even ended up needing!

Rolled grey towel with a yellow frangipani flower infront of it and four white stones to one side.

Choose your toiletries with care

Always opt to decant your toiletries into smaller reusable containers rather than buy mini toiletries, it’s poor value for money and unnecessary single-use plastic. We’ve long been working with properties to also steer away from providing mini toiletries too, it’s a long process but on the whole, most have. Some properties opt to recycle greywater so be careful your toiletries don’t contain any nasty chemicals. Also, some sun creams have harmful chemicals that can damage coral reefs. Recently, the Pacific nation of Palau has become the first country to ban sun cream that is harmful to corals and sea life.


Eat local

Not just when travelling but also at home. Eating local means you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of your meal while also supporting the local economy. Also, when you’re travelling by eating local you’ll get to experience some really authentic flavours whilst enjoying some of the freshest cuisine available. Our travel experts can tell you their favourite spots and even point them on our travel app for you for when you’re in destination.

Gift Shop, Chitwa Chitwa, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Shop local

If you’re going to shop, look for locally made products and local businesses. Shopping whilst travelling can be thrilling but sometimes overwhelming too. As ever, think about it’s source and purpose. Need help? Our savvy guides will, well, help guide you on what and where to buy.

Lady planting trees Brigg, Scunthorpe

Offsetting as standard

Make calculating and offsetting your emissions part of planning your holiday, not an afterthought. You can use carbon calculators like this one on World Land Trust and then offset by planting trees with them around the world. You could even look for organisations that focus on planting trees locally – perhaps like our forest that we created and started planting in 2019 – it’s in one of the most polluted areas of the UK.

Travelling should be fun and fulfilling. Although sometimes it may seem overwhelming we believe taking small actions and making positive choices can lead to a positive impact on not only ourselves but the world at large.

Thanks for reading

Nadia Hussain, Kenya

Author: Steppes Travel