It’s Wander Women Wednesday, where we highlight an upcoming Wander Women Retreat, or a new aspect of our retreats we’re excited about.
I realize for some this is a difficult time to read about travel. I am writing often about our current global crisis — the impact it’s having on me personally, on the world of travel, and on the world at large — regularly on my social media channels, covering topics like wellness-focused practices, and giving away generously to charities helping those in need.
However, my blog audience has spoken and they have overwhelmingly requested a break from COV-tent (content about, well, you know…), and a place where they can mentally escape right now. So, I will continue to post to inspire those who wish to daydream about the day it is safe to travel again. Wishing all of you love and peace in this time of reflection.
Happy Earth Day, friends.
This is normally an occasion I look forward to all year — a time that people get excited about some of my favorite topics, and I have an even bigger excuse than normal to blab about going green.
This year, we planned a big Earth Day promotion to go along with our massive step-up in sustainability and social responsibility at Wander Women Retreats — one in which we were sure we’d secure the last few spots in our yet-to-be sold our trips. Of course, 2020 hasn’t really gone according to plan for most of us, has it?
In fact, our team briefly discussed if we should put up this post at all. But, believe it or not, we had a new retreat booking last week for an upcoming trip, and are fielding inquiries about others. We see that (flexibly) planning future travel is keeping many sane right now, and, well, much of the planet is counting on it — did you know one in ten jobs worldwide is tied to the travel industry?
But while the year might be taking our personal plans and throwing them out the window, it’s been inspiring to watch the rest of the planet come out to play while humans press pause. Coral reefs are having a party, National Park flora and fauna are thriving, and wild animals are taking curious strolls through empty cities all over the world. Perhaps as we emerge we can find a new normal, one with a kinder and gentler balance with the planet.
In that vein, we are really proud of some of the changes we’ve made to bring us closer to purely living our core values, some of which seemed scary at first to implement. We can’t wait to share the with you.
Our Earth Day Promotion
We pinched ourselves when we came up with our Earth Day Promotion — Wander Women Retreats will fully carbon offset the travel to any retreat booked between now and the end of the month.
Want to learn more about carbon offsets for travelers? Dive in here!
We know the future feels extremely uncertain right now, which is why we are offering risk-free bookings through the end of May — and will always offer refunds for any trip that we need to be rescheduled, pandemic related or otherwise. Read on for more details about each and every retreat we are currently offering below (we have decided to press temporary pause on releasing any new retreats, for now, but remain committed to running our current slate as global conditions allow!)
Our New Initiatives
• Going single-use plastic free. This was our single biggest leap of faith for our 2020 trips — we decided that Wander Women Retreats will no longer provide single-use plastic water bottles (we’d always abstained from cutlery, straws, and other forms.) The majority of our trips — including to Thailand, The Red Sea, and The Dominican Republic — are based in accommodation where we have access to safe, filtered water, and gift our guests reusable bottles instead. Then, it’s all about planning ahead and packing what you’ll need.
While this will be harder to implement in areas like mainland Egypt and in Lebanon, we are pushing ourselves to find solutions that don’t contribute to the pollution of the precious places our retreats visit. While our guests are always welcome to drink bottled water if that’s what makes them most comfortable, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback to our careful rollout of this new policy.
Want to learn more about reducing single-use plastic as travelers? Let’s do this!
• Plant-power! We are strong believers in small steps — especially to get started. Often, the idea of a radical lifestyle change can be intimidating. But every little bit counts! Which is why on many of our retreats we have introduced a plant-powered day. The world is bursting with adorable cafes and hip restaurants serving up meals you’d never know were vegan — and even swapping to plant-based for one day a week can make an enormous difference in your environmental footprint. We love to use our retreats as an opportunity to show how fun and feasible that can actually be!
• Green gift bags. We’ve doubled down on making our gift bags go green. We’ve begun turning away sponsors that don’t 100% align with our core values, and instead are turning our attention even further towards supporting small, sustainable businesses like Bite, Hibar, One Ocean One Love, and small local artisans and shops in our destinations.
• Clean up crews. On our very first Wander Women Retreat, we offered a clean up dive as part of a PADI Dive Against Debris course that was one of two continuing education options. But we had so much fun we thought nope, everyone needs to get in on this next time! And thus every trip since — and in the future — will too feature a clean up on land or sea. We love to talk about how you don’t need to wait for a big organized community clean up to get to work (though those are so great too.) You can simply grab a friend and head out to a park, to a beach, or around the block with one of your stashes of unavoidable plastic bags (despite our best intentions, we all collect an ocasional few!) and pick up whatever you see along the way. We’ve been amazed at the positive response we get to this, with many of our guests vowing to bring the tradition back to their places or work, families, and friend groups as a new tradition.
Our Eco-Trip Aspects
Every single one of our 2020 trips has green elements we can be proud of. Here’s some of our favorites:
• Wander Women Global: We’re featuring a workshop on how to DIY your own eco-friendly, WHO-approved hand-sanitizer — plus a hand lotion to soothe that heavily washed skin — with the founder of sustainable small business Bite Toothpaste!
• Wander Women Key Largo: Our greenest retreat yet! Guests on this Florida diving adventure will complete the PADI Coral Restoration speciality with the Coral Restoration Foundation, the world’s largest reef conservation organization, allowing them to volunteer on and contribute to coral restoration projects around the globe. We’ll also take part in a SUP clean up and learn to make DIY and ocean-friendly diving products like leave-in conditioner.
• Wander Women Red Sea: In Dahab, we’ll spend a day learning about the work of Project Azraq, a female-run conversation project, and complete a Project Aware cleanup dive with them.
• Wander Women Lebanon: In Lebanon we’re excited to take part in a beach clean in Batroun, a chic seaside town north of Beirut. PS: We’ve had two spots open up in this previously sold-out retreat!
• Wander Women Egypt: In Egypt, where group travel is the norm, we’re breaking the mold by partnering with small local guesthouses in Luxor and Aswan, and opting for a traditional, wind-powered feluca rather than a Nile cruise ship.
• Wander Women Israel: In Israel, we’re working with Plastic Free Israel to complete a beach clean up in Tel Aviv, and visiting several innovative waste-free and plant-based restaurants (Israel is the vegan capital of the world, per capita!)
Our pledge to you and to this planet? To never stop pushing ourselves on our goal to go green! We hope to come to you every year with new ways we’ve pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone. Suggestions welcome — and happy Earth Day, again.
Have you celebrated Planet Earth today yet?