Happy Summer to all you wonderful Wanderers out there!
This Summer has been one of our most travel-filled already (10 countries and counting!) and it’s not even over! It’s been such a fulfilling couple of weeks abroad and the more we travel, the more we realize the importance of giving back to a world that gives us so much. We know that travel itself has an impact, and we want to do everything we can to make sure it’s positive.
(Enjoying the Mediterranean Sea off the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Even here, where it looks so clear, we cleaned plastic bags, bottles, and other trash daily before and after our swim.)
That’s why we were excited when we met Jessica and Sean of Kind Traveler because we were immediately drawn to their hotel-booking platform that shares our passion for preserving the planet. Not only could we book our hotel through them, but we can donate to a charity of our choice when we book!
Our recent travel destinations have fueled our passion for the ocean. In fact, as I write, I’m sitting with sand between my toes, and the melodic crash of the ocean’s waves. However, while traveling to some of the most beautiful locations on our planet we’ve also witnessed first-hand terrible damage done by human impact, especially in our oceans.
(Wounded Sea Lion Resting at Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles.)
In our search to do more for our planet through travel, Kind Traveler offered us the unique opportunity to tour the facilities of one of the charities they partner with, The Marine Mammal Care Center of Los Angeles, and we wanted to share our experience visiting seals and sea lions with you! We spend a lot of time in the Pacific and love when sea lions pop up next to our paddle board, but we’ve also seen these animals suffering so we were so grateful to learn about MMCCLA’s treatment, rehabilitation and release of Sea Lions and Seals.
(Rehabilitated Sea Lion in Group Pen, Soon to be Released Back Into the Wild.)
It was exciting to actually see an example of where our donation goes when we book our hotel through Kind Traveler. Raymond showed us around their impressive medical facilities, their lab, and their classroom where they educate visitors on the human and environmental impacts on these animals.
(Raymond Simanavicius Teaching in Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles’ Classroom, Holding Items Found in the Stomachs of Marine Animals.)
It was startling to see the wide array of every day items we use which are found in the stomachs or tangled around the bodies of Seals and Sea Lions. It became clear that the financial support for MMCCLA’s education facility was as important as the healthcare they provided so, as Raymond said, “we can all learn to coexist.”
The best part was getting to meet these playful pups in person! Some were alone in their own pen for safe rehabilitation, and others shared a larger pen so their ability to interact with others before being released into the wild could be observed. In the bigger pens they were treating the concrete like a giant slip and slide, chasing each other around and jumping into the air before landing with a giant SPLASH into their pool. Some, curious about us, waddled towards the fence to get a closer look. I was taken aback by the depth of their dark eyes as an Elephant Seal who was recovering from severe starvation studied me for a few minutes and let me take her photo.
(Malnourished Elephant Seal Being Rehabilitated at Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles.)
As Raymond spoke of straws and balloons as the biggest offenders, we were again reminded of our own travels snorkeling through beautiful blue waters with dozens of straws bobbing past our goggles. I heard the words of so many friends who refuse to recycle echoing in my ears, “it’s too much work and it won’t affect me in my lifetime.” Yet, we’ve seen the effects of human carelessness and apathy and been very affected ourselves. At home in LA, it was no different; we were seeing the effects on wildlife that have no say in the products we use. These small animals display the damage much faster than humans, but scientists are already discussing the high amount of plastics found in sea salt, and in the fish which humans consume daily. Our impact on this planet is no longer a distant issue for future generations to deal with; it is affecting us all, in our lifetime.
(Raymond Simanavicius Showing Everyday Items Humans Use such as Straws, Balloons and Plastic Bags, which End up in the Oceans and Inside the Bodies of Marine Animals.)
In our own life, we were already working to become more environmentally conscious, but since our visit with Kind Traveler to Marine Mammal Care Center of Los Angeles, we’ve been inspired to make meaningful changes like saying no to straws and other single-use plastic such as grocery bags and water bottles as well as carrying our own utensils, and reusable take-away boxes. Small changes like these are worth it to us, to help save the lives of the precious animals we share the planet with, as well as our own.
(Rehabilitated Sea Lions Eating Dinner in the Group Pen. You Can Donate a Meal to Support These Animals in Need; Link Below.)
Humans will always have an impact on the planet simply by existing, but we can choose to limit our impact through conscious daily practices. It feels good to be able to give to a local charity in the country that we’re visiting so we can make a tangible difference in addition to our cultural exchanges. Now, we’re grateful we found Kind Traveler so we have the opportunity to have a positive impact when we travel the world from the moment we book our hotel.
(Wonderful day meeting the teams behind @KindTraveler, @MarineMammalCare, @ImpactTravelAlliance, @LokalTravels and @JetsetwithJeannette, all working to make a difference through travel and for our planet!)
Leave us a comment about how you like to have a positive impact when you travel! We’d love to hear from you!
Wishing you all a wonderful Summer! Go out there and live YOUR best adventure!
Pura Vida, Camille+Niels
~Make a positive impact and book your next hotel stay through Kind Traveler.
~If you’d like to donate directly to The Marine Mammal Care Center of Los Angeles it’s as easy as buying a seal a meal for $5! If you’d like to donate to their medical care here is a current wishlist to directly support these sweet animals of our ocean.