As the world prepares to observe Earth Day 2019 by saving species (its theme for this year), travelers might be wondering how they can help.

To some of us, environmentalism can be practiced on a spectrum in any number of ways and on any number of days.

How will you observe Earth Day 2019 and save species?

Some people prefer to acknowledge Earth Day through direct participation in an eco-friendly activity or by visiting less-touristed destinations. Others choose to provide financial donations but leave hands-on environmental projects to the professionals.  After all, experts can conduct them with greater efficiencies (and, typically, effectiveness, too). Still, other travelers like to do something environmentally good wherever they can but prefer to avoid in-your-face green politics while on vacation.

In the tradition of celebrating the earth however you like, on Earth Day 2019 and every day, here are some suggestions for saving species and taking additional green steps forward when traveling.

Amazon river manatees

Amazon river manatees

Earth Day 2019: Save the manatees by cruising the Amazon

Sign on to a Delfin Amazon river cruise and get an opportunity to visit and support the efforts of the Rescue & Rehabilitation Center of River Mammals. The rescue center saves endangered river manatees and other animals in the region. Feed a manatee and learn first-hand why so many people are tempted to keep them as pets. (Resist that urge). Cruisers get to enjoy both Peru and the Amazon in a luxury riverboat.

Earth Day Efforts: Saving the Sea Turtles

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort offers its guests a few ways to help save Florida’s sea turtles. Book a Little Loggerhead overnight package and participate in the Loggerhead Marine Life Center’s Adopt A Sea Turtle program. This includes a private tour of the center. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the center.

A guest room at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort

A guest room at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort

Those preferring a more passive approach can luxuriate in the Marriott’s spa. SiSpa gives 10% of sales of 50-minute signature massages or facials to the Loggerhead Marine Life Center through its For the Love of the Si Turtles program.

Earth Day Activity: Adopt an iguana in Belize

Learn all about endangered green iguanas during a stay at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Belize. Its Green Iguana Conservation Project fosters iguanas from birth and ultimately releases them into their natural habitat. Guests get to learn about the life of an iguana up close and can donate to the conservation effort via the conservation project’s Adopt an Iguana program.

A green iguana

A green iguana

Save the Grapes: Stay in a winery’s micro-hotel

Should travelers find themselves in Australia’s wine country, they may learn a bit about sustainable grape growing (not the easiest task given some long-lasting droughts in the region) by staying at Hotel California Road at Inkwell Wines, in McLaren Vail. The winery’s recently opened bed-and-breakfast is made from 21 shipping containers.

Stackable cargo containers do make for very efficient shipping. After being battered in countless ocean voyages, though, they might not be quite so seaworthy. The kind folks at Inkwell Wines have given a score of shipping containers a new, upcycled life by incorporating them into the architecture of their micro-hotel.

The World Shipping Council estimates that 98% of most shipping containers can be recycled.

Enjoy a view of the vineyards, luxuriate in one of the hotel’s three guestrooms and treat yourself to some Inkwell Wines product from the mini-bar or in its upstairs wine-tasting room. Be sure to reserve a spot: The Sydney Morning Herald named Hotel California Road as one of South Australia’s best places to stay for a weekend away.

A luxury dome in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

A luxury dome in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

See the Planet: Get closer to nature by glamping

For travelers who want to get closer to nature while still enjoying the creature comforts of their day-to-day existences (think beds), glamping might be the right choice. Visitors to the Glamping Hub online-booking platform can reserve tree houses, tipis, yurts, safari tents, or even vintage Airstream campers. Glamping spots in more than 80 countries are listed on the site.

What is great about experiencing a novel accommodation is that travelers just might choose to incorporate more eco-friendly elements into their own housing units back home.

Pack Green: Reduce waste and save reefs and trees

Travelers might be more environmentally friendly in their wanderings in small ways, too.

Those in need of an Earth Day reminder might pack their suitcases with lingerie like Harper Wilde’s new Tough as a Mother bra. A limited-edition bra in sky blue with an earth patch and green embroidery, it reminds its viewers to respect Mother Earth. Even better, Harper Wilde partnered with For Days on an initiative to recycle old bras. Order one of the limited edition bras, and return an old one for recycling.

Tough as a Mother bras by Harper Wilde

Tough as a Mother bras by Harper Wilde

Those seeking to “walk the walk” might give Icebug walking shoes a try. Icebug measured greenhouse gas emissions, reduced them as much as it could, and also acquired United Nations-certified emission reductions credits for those emissions that could not be limited. As a result, the company is now climate positive. Some of Icebug’s shoes are even vegan!

Remember to stash reef-friendly sunscreen made with organic red raspberry seed oil by Earth Mama Organics.

Travelers headed to places where they need to bring their own toilet paper might bring a roll or two of the aptly named No. 2. (For instance, in China, public bathrooms do not necessarily supply it.) Made from bamboo, which is actually a fast-growing and highly renewable grass, this new brand of TP is biodegradable.  An added bonus is that the product won’t generate “butt crumble,” specks of rolled-up toilet paper that can remain after using less sustainable brands.

Save people with some retail therapy

Ever wonder what happens to lost luggage that is never reclaimed? It doesn’t just end up with all the socks the dryer eats. Up to 7,000 pieces of lost luggage per day arrive at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala. More than 1 million shoppers a year visit this unusual store where they can purchase gently used clothing and all of the other stuff people stash in their suitcases.

Through the Unclaimed Baggage Center’s Reclaimed for Good program, the store gives away medical supplies, equipment, eyeglasses, and clothing to charities. In addition, the Love Luggage program gives foster children hand-painted suitcases when they move to new homes. What’s not to love?

Love Luggage by the Unclaimed Baggage Center

Love Luggage by the Unclaimed Baggage Center

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • Travels can remain surprisingly upscale even when travelers do something beneficial for the environment.
  • Studies suggest that getting out into nature more often can improve memory and decrease blood pressure.
  • Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be a good thing.

Take note

  • Remember that adorable animals in the wild are, actually, wild. Follow your guide’s instructions when interacting with animals.
  • If environmentalism is not your thing, try doing something small that has a good impact on the planet. Baby steps!
  • Behavior modification doesn’t happen in a day. At one time, a number of us thought that separating recycling items from regular old garbage was frustrating, and now we do it automatically.


Full Disclosure: One of the Hotel California Road innkeepers was a high school classmate of the author.

Photo credits: Photo of red-eyed tree frog by M. Ciavardini; photo of manatees courtesy of Delfin Amazon Cruises; photo of guest room courtesy of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort; photo of green iguana courtesy of San Ignacio Resort Hotel; photo of luxury dome courtesy of Glamping Hub; photo of lingerie courtesy of Harper Wilde; photo of luggage courtesy of Unclaimed Baggage Center

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Earth Day 2019