To travel the world cheaply, I know that I need to have a strategy for acquiring drinking water for myself, without continuously paying for it. Dropping an additional 2-3 USD a day — everyday — for bottled water is an unnecessary expense — and wanton expenses are to be isolated and stabbed dead by any budget travel strategy.
So I filter my drinking water.
To travel the world cheaply, I know that I must attempt to be as self-dependent as possible. As Andy says, “the more gear I carry with me, the cheaper travel will be.” One way that I cut down on my travel expenses is by purifying my own drinking water with a pump style hiking filter.
I purchased my water filter for $40 in 2001 (actually, my mother bought it for me because she was not confident that I would abstain from drinking the water in S. America) and I have often use this filter — or one like it — on hundreds of occasions all around the world. Filtering my drinking water over the past 8 years has probably saved me close to a thousand dollars that would have otherwise been spent on bottled water.
If $15 can conservatively be called a day of travel in most countries in the world, and I can regularly save myself $2 a day by filtering water, then using a filter everyday for a 6 month trip would provide me with 24 extra days of traveling.
I would rather take 10 minutes every morning of filtering water to ensure that I could have 24 more days of traveling. If you did this for an entire year, then you could rightfully add another month and a half on to your travels.
It is far easier to save travel funds, than it is to make them — I am learning this now the hard way, working away in Maine.
How I use a water filter when traveling
Type of hiker water filter pump that I often travel with
- I get one disposable 1.5 liter plastic bottle from another traveler who lives off bottled water (or from anywhere you can get one)
- I cut the top off of it so that I can make it fit beneath a standard size faucet
- I pour tap water into the plastic bottle
- I filter this water through the pump into my water bottle
- I pack everything up and carry the empty disposable bottle with me
This process takes 10 minutes a day. From these ten minutes of work I can save myself around $2 everyday. Not bad.
There are many other ways to process drinking water when traveling — boiling, iodine drops, ultraviolet light pens — but I am very partial to filtration pumps. The reasons for this are as follows:
- The pumps can remove both bacteria and virus’
- They can be used for both tap and stream/ wild water
- You do not usually need to use chemicals with them — I do not want to drink water that has been treated with iodine/ chlorine drops for long periods of time
- They are light weight and heavy duty — mine is 8 years old, though I have used others during this time
- You can filter a few liters of water in under ten minutes — boiling water usually takes longer than this and then you have to wait for the water to cool down before bottling or drinking
- Filtering water gets out the crusties in wild water — I do not care if all of the bacteria is supposedly killed in my drinking water, I still do not want to drink river crud
- I do not need a power source to use a pump style water filter — boiling water takes electric or fire energy and ultraviolet purifiers rely on battery power . . . I trust the continual availability of none of these sources
- The filters on the pumps last a long time — I only need to replace it once every year or two if I predominantly filter tap water
I like to be as self-dependent as possible in all aspects of living, I like to have everything I need to survive and travel with me whenever possible. I like the knowledge that I can go anywhere at anytime and be prepared. Carrying a water filter means that I do not need to worry about when I will come upon the next store to acquire drinking water from, as I can make any water drinkable in a matter of moments.
By carrying a water filter, I remove a portion of my dependence on an outside infrastructure, and, in the process, make my life a little simpler and routine.
I am not squeamish about drinking tap water in many places, but I always follow a simple rule: If the local people in a town drink the tap water, then I will too; if the local people process their water in some way before consuming it, then I will follow suit and use my filter.
Though it only takes me a few moments to filter out a day’s supply of water, so if there are any questions, I just break out the pump.
Filed under: Travel Gear
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