Free Filtered Water on Vacation

by Sandy L on November 19, 2010

This post is inspired by today’s article on Punch Debt in the Face. Debt Ninja admits to being an El-Cheapo, McCheapster on his honeymoon and skimping on a few things that he should have just bit the bullet and bought.  It made me think of my own cheapness when it comes to vacationing. Of all the things I spend money on during a trip, the thing that irks me most is buying bottled water.

One of the things that I inherited from Babci is a very acute sense of smell.  What that means is when I have a drink of water from an un-filtered tap, I almost want to gag because the smell and taste is so strong to me.  My husband claims he can’t notice the difference between our filtered and unfiltered water, but it is VERY noticeable to me.

I HATE buying bottled water for environmental and economic reasons. At home, it’s easy. I just fill up a Nalge bottle with some filtered water and take it with me in the car. On vacation though, sometimes I feel trapped into buying it. I felt especially trapped at Disney when I had no car and a bottle of water was $2.50. With a family of 4, that’s like $20/day in water.  Anyone who’s been to Florida knows how nasty the water smells and tastes there.  Luckily, my in laws were also on vacation and had a car, so they gave us an emergency case of water. I can’t tell you how thankful I was for that delivery. My SIL also hates paying for water, so she understood my predicament.

If you don’t have someone super nice to bail you out, I also discovered 3 other tricks that worked great. I usually work out when I stay at hotels. (I don’t have a gym membership at home.)  Anyway, almost all hotel gyms have a water cooler with fresh, cold, clean and FREE water.  When I went to the Disney gym and discovered a free source of water that didn’t smell like a swamp, it felt like I hit the jackpot.  That on it’s own was a big enough motivator for me to get up early and hit the treadmill.  I felt like a camel. I’d drink like a gallon of water when I was at the gym and then would fill up my bottle before I left to supplement my day’s needs.

Plan B is using the ice machine. All ice machines use filtered water.  At night, I would fill the ice bucket and any empty bottles I had lying around with ice. Come morning-time, I would have fresh clean drinking water to use as I saw fit.

Plan C is visiting the mother’s room and/or nursing stations. A lot of amusement parks have them now. My youngest was only 5 months old when we were in Disney, so I discovered my 3rd free water source when I was going in to nurse. The water is there as a courtesy for new moms who need it to mix formula, rice cereal, etc. I wouldn’t use this option now that my kids are  older, but as a new mom I had no issue topping off my water bottle before I left.  As an aside, those infant/mother’s areas were really a lifesaver. A lot of people thought I was insane bringing an infant to Disney. It actually was fine because of all the accommodations they had for feeding and diapering our wee man.

I hope these 3 tips help you save a few bucks on water during your next vacation.

Do you think these methods are extreme? Would you be like my husband and be fine with the swampy tap water? Or would you fork out the $100 for bottled water and not think twice about building it into your vacation budget? After all, you are on vacation and you should cut loose from your frugal ways once in a while.

Personally, I’d rather take that $100 and spent it on an amusement park pass or excursion instead but that’s just me.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindy Mint November 19, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Yep, tap is not where it’s at.
I hate buying bottled water too. These are all really good sources that I’ve never thought of before. Melting ice from the ice machine – genious!
I would probably be boring and buy a gallon or two from a convenience mart and travel with our Nalgenes. Actually, I would probably buy the $2 bottles from Disneyland because sometimes I don’t think straight on vacay.


Everyday Tips November 19, 2010 at 8:51 AM

There is one occasion where I love my bottled water, and that is when taking car vacations. I buy a case of bottled water and freeze about half of it to use for the cooler. It doesn’t leak, keeps the cooler cold, and you can drink it on your trip. (I struggle with water different than mine. I am a water snob.)

Be careful with hotel ice machines that use a door and a scoop. I won’t go any further than that, but I have heard of some pretty awful pranks that have been done to hotel ice…


Ninja November 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I feel your pain on the bottled water gig. Fun note though, as I mentioned our honeymoon was to Aruba. Did you know they have the second largest water desalinization plant in the world. In the world!!! The tap water there was a billion times more delicious than any US tap water. In fact, it was so good we didn’t need to buy one bottle of water. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip!


retirebyforty November 19, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Wow, great tips. When we go on vacation, we bring our water bottle and buy 1 or 5 gallons jugs from the grocery store. I’m going to check the workout room first from now on though. I hate cruddy tap water as well. I lived thought that in Southern CA and try avoid that now.


Crystal November 19, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I’m like your husband and can rarely taste a difference, except on cruise ships. I very much dislike cruise ship tap water, so I usually survive on lemonade and soda during the day and free bottled water with dinner at night. 🙂


Squirrelers November 19, 2010 at 7:08 PM

You have a good point here, that one can save money by being resourceful.

The hotel gym is a great source of water, with the cooler that’s often there. I make sure to tap that source for at least one bottle’s worth of water.

Personally, I can deal with tap water and drink it. I enjoy refilling a stainless steel water bottle and taking it where I go, as long as the water is decent. Hydration is good! If I’m traveling, however, I’ll have no issue with water bottles.

I agree with Everyday Tips on hotel ice….be careful!


Molly On Money November 19, 2010 at 7:55 PM

I’m a tap water girl (my primary source is well water though).
I was at the gym this morning and forgot my water bottle. They only had bottled water (for purchase). I chided one of the employees for not having a water fountain available. He was very sweet and brought me a bottle of water. I thanked him and didn’t have the heart to tell him my issue was they were pushing plastic bottles and not the fact that I had to buy it!


Sandy L November 19, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Everyday Tips – EEW. Well, with my taste buds, I’m sure I could detect any contamination. But you’re right, the dispenser ice is way safer.

It’s a given to pack the Nalgene bottles and stop at a grocery store upon arrival on most vacations, but there are some situations where you can’t go to the grocery store and you’re a captive audience (like on a cruise ship or not having a rental car).

Ninja, desalination is cool.


Money Reasons November 19, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Great tips!

I would probably drink the swamp water, but if I had access to better water, I’d jump all over that too!

Now I”m curious how often do you got to Disney (World I take)…?


Sandy L November 20, 2010 at 8:14 AM

I’ve only been twice..once when I was 13 with Babci and my travel agent cousin (we got a deal). Actually that’s a story in itself.

The second time I went 2 years ago after the economy tanked. I kind of had this romantic dream to take my son to Disney. I tried going the year before but it was just outrageous. Then people stopped taking vacations because of the economy and disney had an unbelievable promotion. They were having a buy 3 nights get 4 free special that included park tickets (or was it buy 2 get 3 free?). I don’t remember but it ended up being $225/night for our family of 4 and that included 3 park passes/day. We stayed at the Grand Floridian.

We had fun but I think my kids liked the pool more than anything else. No way would I go there at regular prices. I think just lodging for the grand floridian is usually over $400/night.


eemusings November 20, 2010 at 7:42 PM

You guys are exact opposites of us! I’m almost always happy with tap wate, but T is really sensitive to water quality.

When we first moved into this neighbourhood he complained about the taste of the tap water, but now we keep a bottle in the fridge…and as long as it’s ice cold he seems happy enough.


Valerie November 21, 2010 at 12:30 AM

Man, I thought I was the only one who noticed that Disneyland water tastes like a swamp!! If you’ve ever visited the Jersey Shore (spent summers there as a kid, and have returned a few times since), it is perhaps the second worst tasting I’ve had.

I am definitely going to use these tips.


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