How To Make Your Next Trip Epic By Becoming A ‘Clean Water Courier’

03.21.18 6 months ago

I’ve been on the go for the last two years. I am constantly “just about to leave” or “just returning from” and my car and my luggage are never truly unpacked. I want to see places so strange to my senses that I’m left unsure if I’m dreaming or awake. I want to take it all in, bottle it up, and then write it out. And this has been enough for me… until now.

Lately, I’d begun to feel that I was doing a lot of “taking” from the world. Or, better phrased, I was doing a lot of giving to me and not enough giving back. I promised myself at the start of this year that I would remedy this in some way. Curled on the couch, I came up with a whole list of things I could try, but the one I settled on seemed the most tangible, the most concrete way to take a small step outside of myself and become, at the very least, a better traveler.

I became a Waves for Water Clean Water Courier — delivering water filters to underserved communities — on a trip to the Dominican Republic. But this isn’t just straight “voluntourism.” I actually piggy backed onto a surf trip with my boyfriend and his friends, all of whom already knew the W4W program (it started with surfers and has been supported by them from the beginning).

While on the road, I did what I do best: learned, observed, took notes, bottled it up, and now I’m writing it down. Below you’ll find my advice for how to be a water courier, and why the Waves for Water system matters in the first place:

Waves for Water had been on my periphery for years. They’re a guerilla humanitarian organization whose main aim is to provide access to clean drinking water. They do a lot of major disaster relief work (something I am totally unfit for.) But, they also have the Courier Program, which is designed for people like myself who are more human than superhuman.

Essentially the idea is this: when you’re traveling, you also bring their water filters with you, get them to people who need clean drinking water, then go and do your thing. It’s insanely simple, so I don’t really need to unpack the bullet points:

8 steps to being a courier:

  1. Plan a trip you want to take!
  2. Get yourself some filters!
  3. Pack said filters and go!
  4. Find yourself a point of contact!
  5. Get a bucket!
  6. Set up filters!
  7. Celebrate with beers!
  8. Do it all again!

I don’t want to sound preachy or like an asshole, and I don’t want to shame us for traveling for pure hedonistic joy (mostly because I do that all the time.) But, discovering that being a humanitarian can be this simple and approachable, makes me feel like it’s my duty to share it. Because here’s the honest truth: While I wanted to be a better traveler and do some good, I also like my life the way it is.

I wasn’t going to relocate for a year, and let’s be real, I don’t even think the Peace Corps would have me. The Courier Program is for travelers/people like me who want to help, can help, and just need the right platform to make it happen.