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Saving Money with Water | Don't Ever Look Back

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Saving Money with Water

Saving Money with Water

This is a guest post is from Andrew Couch of Grounded Traveler. Andrew is an American in Germany writing about life as an expat. Get beyond the glamour and read about daily life in Western Europe — the demands, challenges and fears of putting down roots in a foreign country and still seeing the world. Follow him on his blog, on Twitter or via the GT Facebook page.

Drinking Tap Water

Drinking tap water could save you hundreds of dollars a year!

We’ve already given you tips on saving money on food. Another simple way to save money on your grocery bill is to drink water.

First off, take a look at how much you spend in a week on drinks. At 2 bucks a drink just 3 times a day that is 42 dollars in a week. And really, do we need to have soda or juice at every meal? (I admit, I drink soda for breakfast a lot too. No, not even just AT breakfast, but AS breakfast some mornings. Maybe I should stop that.)

The price you pay for tap water at home is near nothing in comparison to buying drinks at the store. When traveling and staying in a hostel, the price is exactly zero extra to drink from the tap. So in a country where the tap water is safe to drink, this really is the cheapest way of dealing with thirst. In the US, tap water is free in most restaurants. A lot of places even give you water when you sit down, so just don’t order anything else.

While traveling outside of the US keep an eye out for the prices of water. In Europe ordering water will likely get you (often fizzy) mineral water, which they will charge for. It is less than soda and (sometimes) beer, but still not cheap. So plan ahead and either skip drinks at meals or take the food with you and drink from your bottle (you did fill it up in the hostel right?).

Bottled WaterBottled Water

Billions of dollars are spent for billions of gallons of bottled water in the US alone. While a lot of bottled waters seem to come from some spring that I have never heard of others are from “municipal sources”, which I always take as just being tap water anyway. So avoid even that cost and fill up a bottle from the tap and carry it with you. When I travel, I will tend to buy one or two bottles a week. Sometimes it is just nice to have cold water on the spot and if I am using a bottle to fill from the tap, they don’t last more than a few days of rough treatment in my backpack anyway.

Even in countries where the water from the tap is not safe and bottled is the only option, water can still your best choice money-wise. I am not widely traveled in such places, but in Greece the bottles were less than a euro per Liter even from the vendor at the airport. This was a vast improvement over anything else that I saw. If you have been drinking water at home and are already used to it, then the change won’t be so big and you won’t have the urge to buy that big soda.

Coke BottleCold Turkey and Beer

Sure, go only water all the time to shave your drink budget to the minimum, I can’t do this. I crave soda and beer, but this doesn’t have to break the bank. If you have this urge too, and likely will when first starting to switch, try buying only one bottle at a time. If I have one bottle of soda in the fridge and know in order to get another I would have to go out to buy more, it keeps me from drinking it so fast. Then I get my fix but with less expense. Anyway by the time you get around to shopping, you may not want it anymore. As for beer, I enjoy the world of beer travel with each country having their unique brew. That said, I buy local beer and enjoy it slowly.

Do Not DrinkFountains of Health

Towns in a lot of the romanized world have fountains of clean free drinking water in public. The Romans and later the Venetians knew that fresh clean water was of vital importance to a healthy society. So they built aqueducts and in a lot of places public fountains. Some places are not fit to drink. Look for signs that say “non potable”, “kein trinkwasser”, “non bere” for fountains you shouldn’t drink from. When in doubt ask a local.

In addition to all of the money benefits, drinking water is healthier. Caffeine and alcohol both tend to make you pee more than they give you in liquid, so you end up more dehydrated and be looking to buy another drink much faster. Also I find that when I get dehydrated I get tired a lot faster, which for a traveler on a tight schedule could mean a missed site (or worse a missed bus).

In Summary

  • Water is cheaper than not-water.
  • In places where it is safe, carry your own tap water and avoid buying bottled.
  • Even where tap water isn’t safe, water can still be a good choice.
  • If you can’t switch cold turkey savor your not-water drinks as special.
  • Water has health benefits.

Flickr Photos: tsaj!, Rgtmumdannyman, roitberg


  1. Posted February 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Great thoughts, I am really going to make an effort at this! Plus, I would be willing to bet if you sub water for many of your sodas/beers you will see a few pounds fall off!
    Scott recently posted..Backpacker Would Hate to See Anything Happen to Nelson Mandela- But

    • Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Oh definitely! It can only be good for your teeth too!

      I can count the number of sodas and beers I’ve had in the last month on one hand and feeling a lot better, nowhere near as bloated these days!

  2. Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    so true… although in southeast asia, tap water is not considered not safe to drink… what i do is pay for a refill instead, its cheaper than buying bottled water…
    flip recently posted..Cheap Travel Gears at Cash &amp Carry

    • Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      That’s a great point you raise Flip – fortunately throughout South East Asia the price of bottled water is affordable compared to the exorbitant prices charged in Western countries. Plus if you choose the right accommodation, a couple of bottles of water is often included in the cost.

  3. Posted February 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink


    Definitely a good idea! Having Water other than any other drink keeps us Healthy too…
    Thank You for this wonderful suggestion….
    Navya recently posted..WordPress Header Design – Sample Header 261

  4. Posted February 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    When we were in London, in some restaurants it was cheaper to order soda than it was water! 😛

    But I agree. I’ve had to cut down my beer intake exponentially to help save money for the trip.

    Makes me a sad panda.
    Erica recently posted..Not a Vacation

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      Yeah, cutting down on beer can be painful. This is why I wrote about only buying one bottle at a time. Yeah it means you can’t have a few in a night, but that is kind of the point.
      In Germany, they certainly charge for water, but I have never seen it be more than cola.
      Andrew recently posted..Ode to the Pretzel

  5. Posted February 11, 2011 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    great tips i never knew someone could save money by drinking less water or sodas. but am afraid of tap water

  6. Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Paying for water in Germany drives me crazy, since it’s all bottled water (from both a cost and environmental perspective). I have a Britta water filter and always keep it in my fridge, refreshing and good for the pocket book and the environment.
    Laurel recently posted..Snowshoeing in Schruns Austria

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:39 am | Permalink

      If you want to look at one brightside about the bottled water in Germany, at least the bottles are not thrown away. Because almost everything is pfand and an awful lot of it comes in glass, the bottles don’t go into the ground. And at least in Freiburg a lot of the stuff comes from the Forest so doesn’t have to get transported quite so far either.
      I used a filter when I was a student, but since then have really decided I like the fizzy.
      Andrew recently posted..Ode to the Pretzel

  7. Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Also, look into getting a filter so that you can fill up your bottle with the local water and still be safe. Steripen filters are small and lightweight, if you’re traveling long-term you might be able to offset the price by not buying bottled water instead.
    Bryan recently posted..Photo Friday- Mali

  8. Posted February 16, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Great point! Water is the way to go. Although, I do love the condensed milk drinks in SE Asia. Worth the splurge!
    Leslie (DowntownTrav recently posted..Photo essay- Hiking the Australian Outback at Kings Canyon

  9. Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I am in the concerned about tap water group. However, I am also in the concerned about health problems from drinking water in plastic bottles and destroying the environment groups. I usually do buy bottled water but feel guilty about it. Perhaps on my next trip I will try those purification tablets.
    Charles McCool recently posted..Airfares Are Going Up- Up- Up–But You Can Pay Less

  10. Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Drinking water also fills you up faster, so you don’t overeat. Of course, you want to try the different foods, but drinking water between meals can fend off hunger at inopportune times and keep you from mindless snacking. In Paris, I found a liter of flat water for €0.19! That’s about 25 cents US!!! 🙂
    Amy recently posted..Dumpster Diving for Dinner and Back Riding a Bicycle in Amsterdam

  11. Posted November 25, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink


    I’ve read your article. Tap water’s main advantages are availability, cost (it’s more or less free of cost) and fact that it’s environment friendly (no transport, no plastic bottle producing, no distribution, no water). Disadvantage: it contains chemicals that provide drinkability. So it can be genotoxic, the level of it can increase with old or bad pipes etc.

    On the other hand all types of water (even natural spring and mineral) contain chemical substances which despite very low levels harm human’s health. So reducing the level of genotoxic materials is essential.

    You might want to check unique bottle available in UK now, called Flaska. This glass bottle is programmed meaning that the information imprinted into the glass changes water’s structure and surface tension and thus lowers genotoxicity.


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