8 ways to reduce plastic consumption while traveling and SAVE $$$!!!

how to reduce plastic consumption while traveling - sustainable tourism
Reusable bamboo dishes and toothbrush from Green Choice Sri Lanka

With international tourism becoming accessible and popular with more and more people across the globe, it is important for travelers to  not leave trails of trash in their wakes.  One of the easiest ways to be a more sustainable traveler is by decreasing your plastic consumption along your journey.  This may seem challenging at first, but time and practice will make it feel easy and natural.  The single greatest thing you can do is change your own habits, simultaneously influencing those around you to change theirs as well.  Every sustainable traveler makes a big difference, and we advise you not to strive for perfection, but just to try to be a little better one step at a time.

Plastic is the enemy:

Even as more people are becoming aware of the harms of single-use plastic, each day more and more is being used around the world.  Here are some fun facts about plastic that will make even the coldest-hearted people feel a little something.:

1. During the last 10 years alone, we have produced more plastic than in all of the 20th century.

2. Up to 50 percent of all plastic produced is used ONE TIME and thrown away.

3. Nearly half of all plastic floats (EPA 2006) and plastic production uses about 8% of global oil annually.  Bioplastics are not sustainable, as they use food sources and water for production.

4. Every piece of plastic produced still exists on the earth, except for the small amount which has been burned.  It takes 500-1000 years for plastic to decompose.

5. Plastic chemicals are absorbed by the human body.  Studies have found that more than 90% of Americans test positive for this chemical which can bring about major health problems.

Here are 8 of the easiest ways that you can reduce your plastic consumption while traveling and save money while you’re at it!

1. Refill or filter water into your own bottle:

 

Refill your bottle if available:

Not buying water is the thing travelers we talk to find most challenging.  Recently, we’ve found many hotels offering water refills for cheaper than buying a bottle at the store.  These hotels have discovered that they sell more water when they do it this way, decreasing plastic waste and increasing profits.

Filter the tap water:

This is how we travel at La Aventura Project.  We carry a Sawyer Mini inline water filter.  This attaches to our “camelback” hydration bladder which I fill with tap water and let drain into our refillable water bottles.  These filters will last for a long time, rated to filter more than 100,000 gallons of water in their life time.  They filter down to 0.1 microns, removing 99.99999% of bacteria (such as cholera, e-coli, salmonella) and 99.9999% of protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium).  It also weighs only 2 oz and retails around $25 USD, so you will save yourself loads of money on a trip abroad.  We estimate saving more than $30 USD each month of traveling by carrying this filter and have NEVER gotten sick from drinking the filtered water.  We have talked to other travelers who used the Sawyer Mini to filter muddy water straight out of the super polluted Mekong River in Laos, with no ill effects.

how i filter water and save plastic
Our water filtration setup. We haven’t bought a water bottle in 8 months using this method! That’s about 600 plastic bottles and more than $320 saved already!

2. Say no to plastic straws: #stopsucking

The problem: Often when you order a soda or stop for a coconut along the side of the road, someone is going to offer you a straw.  You’re first instinct might be “yeah, a straw sounds like a great idea!” Just remember that you will use the straw for minutes, but it will stay in the landfill (or the ocean) for the rest of your lifetime.  In the United States alone, over 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day.  This is enough to fill more than 120 school buses.  If you multiply this number the world over, you discover an unimaginable amount of waste that could have been avoided entirely.

The solution:  ether don’t use straws, or simply bring your own reusable straw.  Many online retailers sell different alternatives, some being better than others.

reduce plastic consumption while traveling reusable straws

Stainless steel straws:

A very popular alternative to plastic.  Most steel is produced from recycled materials, as it is cheaper and more efficient that producing new steel.  It takes very little energy to produce steel, and most of the by-products from production are able to be reused, from the extra heat turned into electricity, to the CO2 emitted used to carbonate soft drinks.  Stainless steel straws are easy to clean and can last a lifetime.

Bamboo straws:

Another great option.  Bamboo is cheap and sustainable to produce.  It grows without the use of herbicides and pesticides and produces 35% more oxygen that a similar farm of trees.  Bamboo also grows rapidly, needing only 3-5 years to harvest, balances the carbon and oxygen in the atmosphere, and is great for preventing soil erosion.  You also don’t need to replant bamboo after harvesting, as it regrows into a new tree from the roots.  It’s being called the new hemp, as it is great for fabric production.  Clothes made of bamboo have antibacterial properties, which they retain for up to 50 washings (great for napkins).  Bamboo scraps can be used to make paper, jewelry, and table utensils.  We really love these Bamboo Toothbrushes from Green Choice Lanka, Check out this article for more info about the sustainable uses of bamboo!

sustainable toothbrush bamboo traveler
Bamboo toothbrush by Green Choice Lanka in Sri Lanka!

3. Bring your own bag:

bring your own bag to cut down plastic consumption
Market bag from New Use in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Single use plastic bags one of the easiest things to avoid.  Simply bring your own canvas tote bag on your trip; they weigh very little and are always useful.  The hardest part is retraining your brain to remember to bring it.  Don’t worry if you forget, we aren’t trying to be perfect, just better.

4. Carry your own takeaway container:

It’s easy to have a reusable container in your backpack or luggage.  There are many different options available, but we like these metal containers with clasps so you don’t have to worry about the tops popping off!

5. Use bar soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent.

Many soap products contain micro beads, small plastic pieces which polish your skin.  These also get washed down the drain and end up in the ocean.  They look just like food to fish and are a terrible polluter of the ocean.  Soaps and shampoos also generally come in a disposable plastic bottle.  These problems can be eliminated by buying soaps in bar form from sustainable soap makers.  In the states, Dr. Bronners makes amazing, all-natural bar soaps.

sustainable tourism moonshadow soap sri lanka
Our favorite soaps in Sri Lanka are made by Moonshadow!

6. Buy local if possible:

Buying local products directly funds the people and not large corporations.  Packaging and shipping produces huge amounts of plastic waste.  It also takes tremendous amounts of fuel to transport products long distances.  The worlds 16 biggest boats (used for shipping) produce more pollution than all the cars in the world.  

7. Stay at eco-friendly hotels and hostels:

The world is full of amazing people running sustainable hostels, hotels, and resorts.  Many travelers fear that staying at these places will break their budget, but we’ve found that the difference in price is not noticeable.  Look for things like water refills, local products, and upcycled decor, as these are the signs that a place is doing it right.  We’ve found that the places that care the most about the environment, usually care a little bit more about the people staying there as well.  It can be hard to find out which places are good to stay at, in Sri Lanka you can check to see if they are Good Market approved.  The Good Market will soon be worldwide, making it easier for travelers to choose sustainable places to spend our money.

8. Your money is powerful:

Remember that where you spend your money is the single greatest influence you have.  Skip the companies that don’t care about the earth, ***cough Coca-Cola cough Nestle cough***  excuse me, and choose green alternatives which are better for your health and better for the planet.

Remember, we aren’t going for perfect…

But with a little effort, your habits will change before you know it.  Others around you will notice your actions, and ask you how they can be more sustainable travelers.  Don’t forget to encourage people nicely, as humans listen better when you’re polite.  Save your nagging for the big polluting corporations, they love annoying environmentalists 😉

Thanks for reading and for caring about our planet!  If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Youtube channel where we’ve just returned from the Tuk Tuk Tournament, driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka to connect sustainable businesses and promote earth-friendly travel on this beautiful island!

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WECare Worldwide – Caring For Sri Lankan Street Dogs

If you know us, you know we love dogs!  Sri Lanka, like many developing nations, is covered in street dogs.  While spending the last three months in Sri Lanka, we kept looking for ways to help the street dogs.  Those little mutts were always nice to us, following along on hikes and keeping us safe late at night.  After being in Sri Lanka for a while, we kind of became immune to the site of the mangy friends.  Then, while researching charities for our September Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat we stumbled across WECare Worldwide.  WECare provides veterinary care for less fortunate animals across Sri Lanka, providing free care for street dogs, and inexpensive care for household pets.

WECare Worldwide Sri LankaWe visited WECare’s facility outside of Talalla, Sri Lanka to find out more about the amazing things they are up to!  WECare’s main focus is on reducing the number of street dogs in Sri Lanka, by neutering and spaying as many as possible.  This way, with veterinary medicines limited,  more care can be given to the already enormous numbers of dogs that exist on the island.

WECare Worldwide Sri LankaAnother of the main goals of WECare Worldwide is educating the local people about street dogs and how to better love them.  WECare goes into school and shows young children that street dogs are cute and loving creatures, breaking the stereotypes that many Sri Lankans have against dogs.

One other stereotype that WECare likes to break is that of the veterinarian.  Traditionally in Sri Lanka, vets are people who have not succeeded in medical school.  Not wanting to be seen in a career connoting “failure” discourages Sri Lankan youth from pursuing schooling in veterinary medicine.  But WECare’s super-smart and passionate veterinarians are changing the image of the veterinary career in Sri Lanka.  It’s also awesome that many of the vets in WECare are women, providing a great example of female education and empowerment!

WECare Worldwide Sri LankaRecently WECare was featured on the BBC which helped them to secure a lot of new funding.  Check out their segment by clicking here!

We cannot wait to raise money for WECare Worldwide though our 10% Giveback Program on our  Bigger Life Adventures yoga and surf retreat!  Every dollar helps, and even if you don’t make it to our Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat, please consider donating a small amount to their cause.  Not only are the helping the street dogs, but they are employing many local people and educating young children on the proper way to interact with animals.  Please check out their website www.WECareWorldwide.org.uk for more information about the organization and details on how to donate to the cause!

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Burning Man 2017 – Demons Exist in Nirvana

BURNING MAN 2017 – The dust, oh the dust.  I can still smell it if I think hard enough.  The Playa sticks to everything that’s ever been there.  Like a tattoo, it never comes off.  Whenever Burners are feeling sad or nostalgic, they can open up their dusty costumes bin and give their dinosaur print tights a shake, Playa poofing out.  The memories we make out at Black Rock City stick to us the same way.  They change who we are, and who we were at the same time.  The person you are when you are waiting to get into the city will never return to the default world.  Accepting this fact and letting it happen is one of the most important things you can accomplish at Burning Man.  The ego must die for us to truly be alive.

This is not a guide like “How to go to Burning Man” or “My Favorite Photos of Burning Man 2017″and this is not a memoir, but merely a reflection. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns in Black Rock City.  Things get hard and there are hourly challenges.  However, it’s these moments of struggle that make it all worth it.  If easy is your thing then go to Coachella, because I don’t want to hear you whining when I’m having a good time.

“Welcome Home,” oh how nice it was to see those words! Burning Man 2017 started with a bang and took off at the speed of light.  We somehow missed the gate line, getting in in under two hours.  We set up in the night, a windless night perfect for assembling our shade structure.  Before dawn we were all up and running, so we went for a bike ride to give our virgin Burners a sense of direction.  The stars were clear and you could see the Milky Way, letting us know things were good, beacons of normality in a city of the unimaginable.

The first few days we had perfect weather, then a huge windstorm came out of nowhere.  The normal dust blows in a shade of grey, but this was a deep orange tan.  Our shade structure was strong, but I yelled for everyone to grab a corner.  For what seemed like eternity we held onto that tent as I couldn’t see my hands that were holding the poles in front of my face.  I crouched down, fearful of less stable shade tents flying through the air like deadly weapons.  The storm left as soon as it came, leaving us to make some quick repairs.  My hand was bleeding but I didn’t feel it, the adrenaline pumping hard and WE WERE ALIVE!

We sure had some crazy nights.  A particularly memorable night went something like this:  rode our bikes to the center, left them near Pink Heart then wandered by foot.  Found a black light camp with a fish theme, they gave you 3D glasses than made you walk though a sort of 3D maze.  Upon exiting, we noticed the Charlie The Unicorn art car not far away.  We walked out towards the light and had a really good dance party; Charlie was a great host.  From there were heard the “crack clack tak tak tak ztaaa cap” of the giant Tesla coils.  I stared at them for what seemed like hours, unable to convince myself that they weren’t shooting electricity to the sounds of Charlie’s beats.  Eventually we went back to camp for a water refill or something, then stayed up all night laughing with our campmates.  Around 4am we went searching for the Dusty Rhino art car.  After about an hour we found it and followed it off into the desert where Tycho played his annual sunrise set.  The music was chill and when the sun peaked over the horizon, shining though the dusty haze, it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen.

By the time the man burned things had already gotten out of hand.  Everyone was strung out (Carrie interjection — not everyone!  Sober burners do exist!) and the weekend warriors had arrived the night before with their RVs, and drugs, and moopyness.  MOOP, (Mater Out Of Place) is one of the most important words on the Playa.  Not one piece of anything should ever hit the ground and one must always be watching for moop.  Some people are born moopers, leaving an ugly trail of trash through their entire lives.  Once you are mindful of mooping, it’s easy to avoid.  The Playa is generally spotless until the weekend warriors arrive.  Not really Burners, they just come for the party and fail to notice the details, the point of the whole thing.

Saturday night, everyone is sitting around the Man for the big burn.  Firemen made a circle at a safe distance to keep back the crazies.  The whole ritual is very pagan feeling, with masked fire baring dragons who light the fuse.  There were fireworks and, as always, a huge explosion that you can feel from the edges of the city.  Fortunately for us we watched from the 6 o’clock side as viewers on the 12 o’clock end had to witness a man break through the perimeter and end his life in the flames.

We didn’t hear about this until the morning.  The man didn’t make it to the fire, but collapsed from the heat far away from the flames.  When the structure had fallen, a team of volunteer firemen risked their own lives to drag the man out of the heat.  He was still clinging to life but died soon after rescue.  Many people had seen it, and it had affected them greatly.  Sunday is always a day for tears, but this time was different.  There was pity and grief, but lots of anger as well.  Suicide can be viewed as selfish, but it touches too closely to home for us.  Carrie and I have both had loved ones take their own lives and we have helped friends though times that they felt were the end.  There is always hope, never give up, never give up.

In the United States our health care is terrible.  Our mental health care is worse.  There are no cheap ways to get help and most sufferers of depression keep the feeling locked up inside for years, embarrassed or their weaknesses. It’s our society as a whole that creates this feeling, this lack of spirituality, empty living without purpose.  We are always striving for the next material thing, next vacation, next promotion, because then we will be happy! But the truth is, these rat races are fueling the sadness, perpetuating the emptiness that our lives have become.  Only through turning off, tuning out, and releasing ourselves from the chains of modern desires can we truly be free to be free from pain and suffering.

The Temple burn on Sunday is always a somber event.  The art cars mute their beats and its the first silence you’ve heard it weeks.  The fire burns slowly, the structure strong.  One soul in the middle of the crowd let out a howl of the wolf.  This howling spread organically through the masses until we were all howling at the moon, upset at ourselves and our inability to control the world around us.  Tears flowed from many of our fellow Burners that night; it was one of the hardest days I can remember in Black Rock City.

The experience ended in a rough way.  There were always mixed feelings when leaving, but this was not the way it was suppose to go.  We were supposed to be happy, high on life and our experiences, excited for next year and sharing our ideas for it.  But we were left far more questions than answers, the uncertainty of the whole things growing deeper.  What were we even doing out here, where life shouldn’t exist?  The idea of a shower and the comforts of home kept us going as we used our last bits of mental fuel to navigate the dusty exit road and reenter the hard pavement of the default realm.

We arrived at Burning Man 2017 as seven friends, and left as one.  The experiences you share create a bond that can’t be broken.  Once you truly see and you look into someone else’s eyes and you just know that they see it too, there is no turning back.

Like this post about Burning Man 2017? Check out my article on Burning Man 2014 and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject.

 

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Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat – South Sri Lanka Paradise

While spending time in south Sri Lanka, we were fortunate to come across Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat.  They run monthly week-long getaways in the Bandara Watte Villa, a beautiful colonial escape surrounded by many local animals including wild peacocks.  Located in the jungle nearby Weligama, Sri Lanka, their adventures are equally focused on surfing and yoga, using experienced local surf guides and certified yoga instructors.  They also feature a “give back” volunteering day where participants visit a local school, teaching the children yoga and donating school supplies.

Weligama surf yoga retreat sri lankaUnlike a lot of the yoga camps in the area, Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat takes you surfing almost every day.  Weligama Bay near the villa is the perfect spot for beginner surfers.  For more experienced surfers there are many opportunities for close by beach and reef breaks in Unawatuna, Galle, Ahangama, Midigama, and Mirissa.  We loved how they used only local surf instructors; the guys were super nice and helpful especially for the newbies.Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat also features a “give back” day when you get the opportunity to check out a local school and lead activities for some children.  The kids really love it and it’s a great opportunity to see into the lives of little Sri Lankans.  They have so much energy, and by the end of the hour all the adults are dripping sweat, the kids still running circles.

Giving back to local schools.

The morning and sunset yoga practice is at the Bandara Watte Villa.  You listen to the sounds of the jungle while peacefully drifting into a meditative state.  If you get lucky a peacock will show its feathers.

One of the highlights of the retreat was the food!  The chef, Mahendra, creates local dishes with a twist of western fusion.  The curries he makes are some of the best we’ve had, the spices deep and complex, but comforting and familiar at the same time.

A cooking class with the chef, Mahendra.

Whether in Sri Lanka for a short time or a long trip, Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat is a great way to see and do a lot, without worrying about anything.  The staff is top-notch and the venue is classic, you’ll quickly feel at home and not want to leave!

Website: www.weligamasurfyogaretreat.com

Instagram: @weligamasurfyogaretreat

Facebook.com/weligamasurfyogaretreat

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Free Yoga in Bangkok

Bangkok is a crazy city that has everything you could possibly want, healthy food trends and fitness included!  Yoga is hugely popular but it usually comes with a big price tag since it’s trendy and many of the gyms and studios are super new and fancy, geared towards wealthy Thais and expats.

I spent the last four months living in Bangkok and discovering all the options for FREE and donation-based yoga.  After some looking on Meetup, Facebook, and asking around, I found some great **free** classes and made new friends!

Yim Yam Hostel & Garden (the hostel we are marketing consultants for!) has a free sunset rooftop class open to everyone Tuesdays at 6pm!  The class is taught by Kwan and it’s usually a hatha style class suitable for all levels.  After the class, you can hang out in the garden or cafe at a Post-Yoga Social Hour with 30% off all drinks!

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Yoga with Evelin offers classes in Benjakitti Park around sunset twice a week!  Tuesday at 6:00pm is a Hatha Strength class and Wednesday at 6:30pm is a Relaxing Yin class.  I loved coming to her Wednesday yin yoga class to really stretch and meditate while watching the sunset!  Evelin is an amazing teacher and also runs cool yoga/meditation retreats on Koh Samet!

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Photo Credit: Yoga with Evelin

Wanna do yoga on Thursday?  Kwan, the teacher from Yim Yam Tuesdays, sometimes offers a FREE class in Benjakitti Park.  Check her Facebook page, Bangkok Free Yoga, to see if it’s happening!

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Photo Credit: Bangkok Free Yoga
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Photo Credit: Bangkok Free Yoga
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Photo Credit: Bangkok Free Yoga

Last but definitely not least, my favorite Bangkok restaurant Broccoli Revolution, recently started a donation-based class on Thursdays on their rooftop at 5:30pm.  The volunteer teachers rotate through and have always had great music and a great flow every time I’ve gone.  Donations from this class go to Sati Foundation, a nonprofit working on health and education programs with under-served and at-risk populations in Thailand.  So this class has a great karma yoga thing going on and it’s a great excuse to eat amazing vegan food for dinner after class!  Just check Broccoli’s Facebook page for the official dates of this class and send them a message to sign up!

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Photo Credit: Broccoli Revolution
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Photo Credit: Broccoli Revolution
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Photo Credit: Broccoli Revolution

I hope this guide helps you find some wonderful, affordable yoga classes to attend in Bangkok and leads you to some meaningful connections with other yogis as well!

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Friendly Nomad Feature: Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy

This is the first in a series of posts we’re starting that will feature the businesses of our traveling friends and clients of Global Traveler Networks!  We’re featuring amazing people who we 100% support and helping them spread the word about the good they are offering the world!

Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy
Iosif & Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy

Iosif and Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy are quite inspirational.  We met them randomly over the internet and they kindly offered us a free first psychotherapy session of “couples therapy from a couple” as they call it.  Their focus is in combining psychotherapy, metaphysics and spirituality to create a holistic approach to bettering your life.  Originating from Romania but currently based in Bali , they conduct their sessions in person or via Skype.  Most of their clients are people who have already broken out of the so-called “normal realm” of thinking and are looking for the next level of consciousness.  Long term travelers and digital nomads could find them the most beneficial, since when living overseas its hard to know where to go or who to turn to if you would like to talk to a therapist.  Also, local therapists from the country you are in might not understand your background and your nomadic lifestyle!

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy
Our Skype Session!

One of the most interesting things that we talked about in our session was our fears around money.  Natalia and Iosif really opened our eyes to the difference between the “spending mindset” vs the “investing mindset. ” Whenever you are using money for any reason, do you think of it as “spending” i.e. the scary loss of money, or as “investing” into yourself.  “God is in you, and you can trust god” said Natalia, “You must know that you will be given all that you need, when you need it”.

Mattera is picky about the people they take on for sessions as they are better suited to those who have already started along the path of expanding their conscious awareness.  The best way to describe their target market might be “hippie traveler digital nomads”.

If you go to their website, mattera.life, you can sign up for a free first session so Iosif and Natalia can get to know you a little bit.  They want to open doors for you inside of yourself, so you can search around for your own happiness.  Some of their areas of expertise are helping people with limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and traumas, and accessing higher states of consciousness. Their theory is that by building your life in the right way, the universe will conspire to give you everything that you need.

Website: Mattera.life

Instagram: @matteratraveling

Facebook: HERE

Email: manifest@mattera.life

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy

Enjoy this post about Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Chacos – The World’s Greatest Shoe

Chacos

There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.

Some of the best uses for Chacos are:

Hiking:  Chacos really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.

Backpacking:  Super durable and maintenance-free.  Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet.  It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.

At the salsa bar:  Great for showing off those gringo dance moves.  The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style.  They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.

On the bus:  Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.

Church:  That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit.  Birkenstocks? Yeah right!

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Jesus rocking an early Chacos prototype.  Disclaimer: Walking on water not recommended

In the rain:  Chacos are super-waterproof and grippy even in wet conditions.  However, if you’re planning to go hiking in the rain with deadly snakes and flesh eating fungi, think twice!  Just don’t do it with any shoe.

 

Chocos in the jungleThis hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers.   This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet.  Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.

They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear.  If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies.  So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??

Not a sponsored post, I just love them!

www.Chacos.com

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