In our first 18 months on the road, we didn’t clean our teeth with tap water. Period. We weren’t drinking tap water. We drank only bottled water. Especially during the hotter seasons, we found ourselves drinking water constantly. In Xian when it topped 40 degrees for days in a row we drank 5 litres a day and struggled to pee! We bought 5-litre bottles and decanted it into our smaller water bottles. We bought hundreds and hundreds of plastic bottles of water to stay safe and while in Asia at least, bottled water isn’t expensive, it’s not kind to the environment at all.
Read on to find out how we could have saved MORE THAN US$1000 in 424 days of travel if we’d done this earlier.
What's in This Article?
- Drink 2 Litres of Water per Day
- We Drink Tap Water In Asia
- How to Drink Tap Water
- Which Water Filter to Use
- UV Light for Tap Water
- Tap Water in Belize is NOT drinkable
- Boiling Water When Travelling
- Cost of Drinking Bottled Water
- The cost comparison: Drinking water from the tap versus bottled water
- Cost of Saving the Environment – Priceless
Drink 2 Litres of Water per Day
Health experts around the world state that you should drink at least 2 litres of water a day to stay healthy. In Nepal, while trekking to Everest Base Camp, we upped this to 5 litres but needed it for the altitude. Most of the time travelling, because we’re walking everywhere it’s not a problem and two litres seems like a small amount!
If you’re looking to buy a Filter Water Bottle – then check out our buying guide for the best Filter Water Bottles
We Drink Tap Water In Asia
We’ve made a conscious decision to change that for our future travels. We are drinking tap water. And I’m comfortable also, when we’re hiking, that we’ll fill our water bottles from streams and springs.
It’s not because I’ve developed a desire to send myself to an early grave or dice with whatever hasn’t been cleaned out of the water systems in Asia, South and Central America. It’s because we’ve swapped our water bottles out.
How to Drink Tap Water
We’re using the Drinksafe Travel Tap – it’s got a built-in filter that we can use with ALL freshwater sources. When the filter is done, after it’s filtered about 1600 litres of water, we just replace it with a new one. This isn’t available as far as we can tell in the USA – so the alternative there would be the Lifestraw.
Which Water Filter to Use
We did a LOT of research about which filter system to buy. We discounted the ones that leak badly when they fall on their side. We got rid of the ones that require a separate bag to filter the water through, as space is at a premium in my backpack.
And we settled on the DrinkSafe Travel Tap. It’s good for 1600 litres, has an auto-shutdown when the filter is dead and has been tested extensively. It’s used by the British Army and by disaster relief teams worldwide. It removes 99.9% of viruses, protozoa, anthrax and pathogens. The Travel Tap is robust, but lightweight. It doesn’t leak when it tips over. Check out the optio/ns for buying a water filtering bottle here.
UV Light for Tap Water
And because we’re cautious travelers we’re also carrying a rechargeable steripen. Great value for the environment and your budget.
So after we fill up our Travel Taps, from the tap, we give them 48 seconds of UV light to blast away problems that might be in the water.
Tap Water in Belize is NOT drinkable
On Caye Caulker in Belize, the tap water is very salty. The Travel Tap doesn’t work so well with salt or brackish water, however, our accommodation (the lovely, quiet and reasonably priced Barefoot Belize) provided a gallon of drinking water for BZD$2.
If after our filter and zapping with the steripen the water tasted funny (happened once or twice), then we poured it out and bought a bottle instead, because we are cautious travellers.
Boiling Water When Travelling
We also carry a hot water boiler, that we acquired in Sri Lanka, which makes us coffee and tea for a fraction of the price of going to a café. This is also our backup method of ensuring we have clean safe drinking water from the tap. You can get prices on here. They’re generally known as Travel Immersion Water Heaters.
We use ours in the amazing GSI Outdoors mugs – and they’re big enough to cook a packet of noodles in! – find out where to get what we think is the Best travel mug ever.
Cost of Drinking Bottled Water
I took another look at two years of travel. We left the UK on May 7th, 2014 and headed to Asia via Russia, Mongolia and China. I’m using cost comparisons from NUMBEO to chart how much drinking water costs in various countries.
I’ve ONLY included costs where Numbeo has the cost of bottled water (which is why it doesn’t add up to all the countries we visited nor all the days we were travelling). Here’s what it would have cost us for the number of days we spent in each of these countries. I excluded Australia and New Zealand as we drank the tap water there.
I also took the assumption that we drank 2 litres of water per day in each of these countries (sometimes it was more sometimes less). As it happens I can only easily find the bottled water costs for 424 of the first two years we spent travelling. It’s enough for a very compelling argument.
If you’re looking for other ways to save money on travel – yet still have a great time, then you won’t go far from by following these 5 expert tips for delightful travel.
Here’s what it cost us to drink bottled water over 424 days.
US$650 (GBP£507). Each. US$1.53 per day. Each. That’s GBP£1.20. Each. Ever day.
Yeah, doing this analysis made me seriously, seriously think.
The cost comparison: Drinking water from the tap versus bottled water
Here’s how much we’re paying for water now.
Cost of Travel Tap including filter (good for 1600 litres of water): US$34.53 (£26.95) We have one each. New filters cost around GBP£20. > Get A Price for a Filter Water Bottle NOW
Cost of Rechargeable Steripen (good for endless litres of water): US$83 (£65) – we share this. Check out prices of Steri Pens Now
Let’s assume for the purposes of comparison if we’d bought these when we set out and used them for the 424 days above.
Our costs for drinking water would have been US$76.17 per person over the 424 day period – making the assumption that we drink 2 litres a day each.
That’s US17cents a day. Or 14 pence a day.
If we’d used our Drinksafe Travel Tap and Steripen for these 424 days alone, we would have saved more than US$570 (GBP£448) in 18 months. EACH. And there would have been two less 2-litre bottles each rolling around in a landfill. A day.
Cost of Saving the Environment – Priceless
It’s not just the cost savings that we’re thrilled with. Anyone who’s spent any time in Asia, Central America or indeed near the ocean will despair of the number of waste plastic drinks bottles. So save your budget and save the planet and at least get a reusable water bottle, think about an integral filter and a steripen.
- Filter Water Bottle
- Steri Pens
- Numbeo Comparative Costs of drinking 1.5 litres of bottled water each day
- What else we pack in our backpacks
- Get great tips on how to research your next trip in our Ultimate Travel Research Post
- How to survive budget bathrooms – our hints and tips
- How Much water should you drink each day?