The Waterbearers: Humanity in Action

​The Waterbearers was founded a few years ago by two women, Spryte Loriano and Jane Brinton who both share a deep passion for seeing everyone on the planet have access to clean water. ​I sat down with Ophelia, one of their impassioned volunteers, to learn more about the organization.

What is the mission of The Waterbearers?
Our mission statement is:  Inspiring women who have access to clean water​ - to get it to those who do not.

For many of us, clean water is as easy as walking to our sink and turning the faucet. This is so not the case with millions of people around the world. According to 2013 figures by the United Nations, 85% of the world's population live in the driest half of the planet. That means that 783 million people do not have access to clean, drinkable water. And those numbers are from 2013 so it's undoubtedly even greater now.

How do you go about accomplishing your goals?
​Our goal is to bring clean water to as many people as possible. Currently we are in a campaign to get clean water to 1 million people by March 22, 2017 which is World Water Day​. We accomplish this by raising funds to purchase water filters. Each filter costs $50 and will provide clean water for 100 people for up to 10 years!   

The Sawyer filters are certified for ABSOLUTE microns making it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which causes Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through. No pumping, no chemicals, no waiting, no worries! Incredible fast-flow rate, simple to use, and each filter can be backwashed to extend its life.
Each filter provides clean water for up to 100 people. Just $50 provides the distribution of one Micron Absolute Filter, Bucket Adapter, Bucket Hole Cutter, Filter Cleaner, Adapter Hose and Filter Hanger.
What is your biggest success story?
​We are so fortunate to have many success stories​. On our website you can see that in the short time since Spryte and Jane founded the organization, we have been able to take filters to Indians in the Amazon in Ecuador, Mayans in Mexico, two elementary schools, one in Tulum, Mexico and another in Reshikesh, India.  The Waterbearers were on the ground very soon after the earthquake in Ecuador. And in 2017, we will be going to Liberia, Africa in February, and later in the year to the Galapagos and Nicaragua.

Mayan woman drinking clean, filtered water.
In Tulum we were able to provide enough filters so that 3,000 people now have clean water to drink for a decade. In Ecuador after the earthquake, we were able to provide filters for almost 1,500 people. 

The Waterbearers in Tulum.
Every person to whom we can bring clean water is a success story!

What have been the most significant obstacles? 
​Well, as any non-profit knows, fundraising is ongoing. We have Waterbearers around the world and we have people who are ready to travel to deliver filters, but we need funds to purchase those filters. One hundred percent of all donated funds are used towards filters. We are largely a volunteer organization so fundraising is something we are always involved in. 

What do you hope for the future of the organization?
We plan to get access to clean water to as many people as possible!​

How can others get involved?
Go to our website and there you will find a Donate button. It's that easy to help get clean water to those who do not have it! We have Waterbearers around the world and four of us happen to live here in Boise!​ Here is our fundraising page.

If anyone would like to travel with us, our next stop is Liberia, Africa in February. Here is the link for more information on that trip.

Ophelia can be reached directly at

Girl Around the World

When it comes to exploring the world, we want our children to get as much out of the experience as we do. It's not about taking vacations and dragging the kids along with us, it's about living and working in another culture, and learning about that culture as a family.

To that end, and drawing on her inquisitiveness and ability to engage with people, my daughter Emilia just launched her own website and podcast, Girl Around the World. She's nine, after all, so it's high time she did something with her life.

Helping Emilia create her podcast has been more than just a fun little venture. She now has ownership of something that showcases her strengths. It breeds confidence, which has unfortunately eluded her on the elementary school playground. Whether or not she garners listeners, the exercise has been hugely beneficial. It illustrates the potential that exists when we stop looking at our children's education as something that has to follow the traditional model. It opens up a world of possibilities, whether we're traveling or not.

To date she's interviewed people from locations around the globe - Alaska, Kenya, Germany, Australia, and Mexico to name a few. And she's adept at recording on the go, carrying her microphone with her and conducting interviews at campsites, in museums, and on ferry boats.

Episodes are posted at Girl Around the World and on iTunes. With the podcast up and running, we're now focused on finding the right project for her little sister. Nothing's been decided as of yet, but it's never too early to start fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.

For more on how and why we travel as a family, check out 

10 Ways to Save Money While Traveling Long Term

We spent two nights at the Casarão Verde Hostel in Itacaré, Brazil. 

1. Peanut butter & jelly.

Some people would rather ham and cheese it, but I'll take pb&j any day. Add in an apple and you're all set. The point is, when you're on the road you shouldn't be buying $4 cups of coffee or eating at restaurants (at least not all the time). And goodness knows fast food joints aren't the answer. On a week-long road trip we kept a cooler in the back, sought out grocery stores when needed, and maintained a fairly decent diet without taking on a mountain of credit card debt.

2. Leverage your home.

Yes, I'm a huge fan of Home Exchange and I sing its praises whenever I get the chance. Because it's a life-changer. Because half of our trips would not have happened without it. We've also leveraged our home by renting it out while traveling, but after a handful of less-than-ideal renters, this is now an absolute last resort. Home Exchanges have always been wonderful experiences.

3. Leverage your car.

On a two-month exchange in Brazil, we also exchanged vehicles. This negated the need for a rental car and when we flew to other locations in Brazil, we took advantage of public transportation. Exchanging both a car and a home can take what would have been a $5,000 trip for a family of four and turn it into a $500 trip.

4. It's not a vacation.

Long-term travel isn't living it up. It's about living - in another country experiencing their culture. A walk around town, a chat with locals, and learning about their history are all free activities.

5. Keep Working.

Hopefully you love what you do, because you'll eliminate a substantial amount of stress if you keep up efforts to bring in a paycheck while away from your usual work routine. You can accomplish a fair amount by just brainstorming projects, solutions, and marketing campaigns (depending on your line of work) with a pen and paper. If you have technology, you can take it a step further and keep up to date with emails and conference calls. Just make sure you don't work so much that you lose sight of your surroundings and all they have to offer.

6. Say no to theme parks.

Okay, I admit we went to Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland. But it was Steve Irwin Day and I couldn't resist the opportunity to pay tribute to the Crocodile Hunter and learn all about the zoo's conservation efforts.

On the whole, though, we avoid water parks, theme parks, and expensive tourist destinations. If you're really into those things, then you probably need to plan more of a vacation (limited length of time, set destination, budget for tourist activities) than a long-term, nomadic trip.

7. Street food.

I love street food and you can find it the world over. It's far less expensive than food from a restaurant and often more authentic. If you're intimidated by obtaining your food from a truck or cart, know that every time I've had food poisoning, it's been from a restaurant. Not once from street food.

Street drinks are always fun, too...

8. Souvenirs come last.

When you arrive somewhere, there's an urge to purchase souvenirs. Always save this until the end of the trip when you've seen more of what's available. You may find the same souvenir you initially fell in love with for a lot less money somewhere else, or you may decide that the seashells you picked up from the beach were all the souvenirs you needed.

9. Guidebooks lie, anyway.

They don't intentionally lie, but by the time you buy and read a guidebook, the off-the-beaten-path restaurant they recommend isn't off-the-beaten-path anymore. (Because it's since been featured in a guidebook). If you want recommendations, you can find more current information on the internet. Even better, ask a local. If you spend any money on books in preparation for travel, start with Rolf Pott's Vagabonding. This is the indispensable starting point for approaching the "Art of Long-Term World Travel." (Yes, if you're serious about travel, I am suggesting you buy this book before one of mine).

10. Give and take.

Not everyone gets to do everything they want to do on a given trip. That goes for the parents as well as the kids. Maintaining a happy and healthy family of four while keeping the bank account out of the red means we all have to sacrifice certain things when on the road. The good news is that while we have to give up a little in the way of indulgences, we reap far more in return in terms of invaluable cultural experiences.

Sitka, Alaska
Not sure where to go? Let the location choose you.

Home Exchange Like a Pro

My husband and I have used for a few years now. It's a platform where homeowners pay an annual membership to create a profile of their home and share it with likeminded homeowners around the world. It allows us to connect with people across the globe and arrange a home (and sometimes vehicle) exchange. Someone in Spain comes to our house in the United States while we cross the pond to hang out at their home in Basque country. It fosters worldwide travel while negating the prohibitive cost of long-term accommodations. It's wonderful! But we still encounter friends and relatives who can't fathom doing such a thing.

Letting strangers stay in your home? Crazy talk! 
What about your things? 
What if something goes missing?
I could NEVER do that!

At which point we relate the pros and cons of our experiences with home exchanges, as well as why we have no plans of stopping any time soon. Here are the top 5, pretty-basic-and-rooted-in-logic-when-you-stop-to-think-about-them, tips to approaching an exchange like a pro.