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.
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?).
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.
Cold 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.
Fountains 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).
- 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.