The importance of refilling water & reducing waste

Mike Huxley - Bemused Backpacker

Drinking water is a big concern for travellers heading off on their gap year and it is not hard to see why.

With so many countries carrying the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid amongst others just from drinking local untreated or unsafe water, it is hardly surprising that travellers are concerned and want to stick to the safe option.

Many backpackers get around this issue by buying endless bottles of pure, clean water. On the surface this seems like an ideal solution – clean water from a reputable and safe source, the bottles are disposable and forgettable and they don’t put too much of a dent in your budget. Great, travellers can get clean water easily and not even have to worry about getting a dose of the dreaded Delhi Belly. This is an ideal solution to the problem of finding clean drinking water when you travel.

Or is it?

The truth of the matter is this disposable, throwaway solution to finding safe drinking water when you travel is causing more harm than good. It is costing travellers far more than they think in monetary terms, and is costing the environment even more as most of these bottles end up on vast landfill sites or floating out at sea in huge plastic islands.

Think about it, buying a bottle of water is cheap enough, right? But if you are buying two or even three a day, that cost soon adds up, especially if you are travelling for weeks, months or even years! The average holidaymaker uses up at least 30 bottles of water on a single two week holiday. Imagine how much money three bottles of water a day for a whole year would add up to? Imagine what else you could do with that cash?

Just think about all that plastic waste you are adding to by throwing away bottle after bottle of empty water bottles. Not to mention the energy used to produce them in the first place. Water bottles are becoming a death sentence for the environment!

Now to be fair most travellers aren’t doing this on purpose. There is generally no malice at all involved in their decision to buy and drink bottled water. After all, all they want is clean, healthy water so they don’t get sick, right?

Well, there is a better way. A much better way. Refilling a single bottle as much as possible.

Plastic-free Travel

There are countless options for you to choose from when it comes to keeping your own, refillable bottle when travelling, from the fanciest sporty option with a filter to the basic shop bought drink that you just re-use.

There is also an ever-growing list of countries that don’t have access to clean tap water that are working alongside international initiatives to both reduce plastic waste and provide sources of clean water.

Better Places Travel is one such local enterprise that is committed to reducing plastic waste when travelling abroad and increasing the ease of access to clean, safe refillable water in places that may not have had that before.

Working alongside, for example, Cambodia’s Refill not Landfill and Bali’s Refill Bali, which are initiatives to supply safe refill stations at hotels and other locations, and many other initiatives besides, Better Places Travel is making a genuine practical difference in reducing plastic waste, but it also wants to change travellers’ perceptions on plastic waste and empower them to make the right decisions when travelling.

Because it is travellers themselves that can make the real difference.

Better Places Travel works with various local initiatives around the world to provide places where travellers can refill water bottles with clean water, and there is a ton of information not only on the Better Places Travel website, but the local initiatives’ home websites and even Google Maps, on where exactly you can find these refill stations no matter where you are.

By choosing to use a refillable water bottle wherever you go you can make a significant impact on the amount of plastic waste that fills up our landfills and oceans. Many people don’t think their individual effort will make a difference, but just try and imagine how many bottles you use up in a week, a month, a year. Now imagine removing that many bottles from a landfill.

By using the refillable water stations made available by these initiatives at various facilities around the world, you can show your support and prove that these movements are not just working, but are having a huge impact on the way we travel and consume.

By choosing to use a filter bottle, LifeStraw or a Steripen in areas that don’t always have access to clean water, you can be assured that you can still make a positive difference whilst ensuring your health won’t be affected by any bugs, parasites or bacteria.

All it takes is a very slight paradigm shift. All it takes is a tiny bit of thought, and you can make such a positive impact in the world during your travels.


reducing plastic waste

About Mike Huxley – Bemused Backpacker

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website Bemused Backpacker. He has been featured in some of the world’s largest print and TV media including the BBC, The Guardian, USA Today and many more. He is also a charge nurse by vocation with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine, but his real passion is independent travel and adventure and has been travelling the world on his own terms for 15 years. Find out more at

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