How I Afford to Travel: I Don’t Spend a Dime on Water

How I Afford to Travel the World Saving Money On Water
bad water faces
The average person consumes over 170 bottles of water each year spending an average of over $450 per calendar year. The cost of bottled water is often higher when traveling. When I travel I save a tremendous amount of money because I very rarely purchase bottled water. I use a Steripen. SteriPEN is a growing Maine (where I am from) based company that provides a compact, fast and safe water sterilization solution. I purchased my first SteriPEN for $20 from Craigslist summer of 2011 and it has been invaluable to me in my travels.

In many countries it is not safe for foreigners to drink the tap water because the bacteria in the water multiplies in your body after you ingest the tap water and causes you to be ill. The SteriPEN prevents this by using ultraviolet light to sterilize the water so that the bacteria are unable to multiply thus making the tap water safe to drink. You can use the SteriPEN Freedom for 45 seconds to sterilize up to half a liter of water. Using SteriPEN is a great way to be kind to the environment by wasting far less plastic from all the water bottles you would otherwise consume. I always bring a Camelbak water bottle with me because I like the no-spill one handed use as well as how durable they are. The SteriPEN Freedom charges via USB, the battery life is excellent and it includes an optional wall outlet adaptor. The other pretty cool thing about the SteriPEN Freedom is that if you shake it, the handle transforms into a pretty bright flashlight!

I highly recommend the SteriPEN Freedom as a way to save money on water and lessen your environmental footprint.Steripen Freedom Costa Rica

Steripen Freedom1-Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 1.05.32 AM SteriPEN water purification how to sterilize waterSteripen Freedom Costa Rica

Steripen Freedom Costa RicaSteripen Freedom

  1. Danik the Explorer (UK)

    February 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Anna, thanks for the newsletter regarding this. I have never heard of this device, and its amazing. Thanks for the video demonstrating. Where do I buy this online? Does the company from Maine have mailorder and do you think they will post to the UK? 😛 I really need to get two of these (as my best friend is also a traveler!)

    Great post, keep up the good work and happy travels!

    Danik 🙂

  2. Crowmads

    February 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Yep. & being talented, funny & pretty doesn’t hurt either 🙂

  3. Andrea Manion

    February 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Awesome I want one!!

  4. Stacey Sandlin Veikalas

    February 25, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    That is very cool I have never even heard of that little gadget how handy is that! We no longer drink bottled water (exactly for the price) but I like the taste (being a native Colorado Girl I need good water) but I nevre knew about this very cool!

  5. Adam Evans

    February 25, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    It’s a clever idea. Having to buy bottled water all the time when abroad is a nuisance, and as you pointed out, can be expensive too.

  6. kami

    February 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve never seen something like this before! That definitely sounds useful on the road – I hate how expensive the water is in some places yet you can’t get around without having a full bottle with you
    kami recently posted…Sunday with Pictures: Acre, IsraelMy Profile

  7. Karisa

    February 25, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    That sounds very helpful! I know I spend way too much money on bottled water when traveling!
    Karisa recently posted…Be a Girl Who TravelsMy Profile

  8. Carl Donath

    February 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Long wanted a Steripen, but it’s just outside the “play money” range. ‘course, I’ll think otherwise when suffering the consequences of not having one…

  9. Andy

    February 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I used a Steripen on a 14 day backpacking trip. It was awesome. But I had borrowed it. I’d love to win one. Cheers!

  10. Birgit

    February 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Hei Anna! Thanks for sharing your great tips, I’m travelling a lot as well, so SteriPEN will be my next purchase ! All the best to you and continue with an awesome journey! 🙂
    Birgit recently posted…How I Afford to Travel: Saving Money on WaterMy Profile

  11. Kelly Connolly McGhee

    February 25, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I can only hope you send one my way. This looks amazing!

  12. Winston Wolfrider

    February 26, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Extremely cool and innovative! Would love one of these to help me get across the USA

  13. Dennis Kopp

    February 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Anna, thanks for the great introduction to the Streipen! It really sounds like a good idea to have it for travelling, but unfortunately I found it quite impractical in actual use. I took it with me on my first world trip and tried it out, but on the one hand I was always concerned about contaminated water spills at the rim of the glass and on the other it was just not possible to sterilize a whole bottle of water. On top of that, the Steripen has actually quite bit of weight to it and in the end I found iodine or chlorine tablets more practical, as they are extremely lightweight and work easily for a whole bottle of water… 🙂
    Dennis Kopp recently posted…Gili Air to Denpasar by Public TransportMy Profile

  14. Ann Marie

    February 26, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Hey Anna!! Great idea! I'm going to South America soon and think this is a great way to save money and the environment. This is a great tool for tap water! What do you do when you camp? Do you also use the Steripen or is there an extra step in there?

    • Julie

      February 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Ann Marie! Hope you don’t mind if I chime and and reply to your great question … SteriPEN recommends using in clear water. Sediment can block the UV light and make it less effective. If you’re on the trail and the water isn’t clear, you should run it through a filter first. You can use any filter but we have a Pre-Filter (included with some SteriPENs) that fits snugly in a Nalgene bottle, or a Fits-All filter that can be used in anything from a Nalgene to a Gatorade or water bottle. Check them out here:

  15. Tanya Lechner

    February 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    This little gadget is so cool!!! I could definitely use one of these this summer on our trip around the US. A family of six goes through a LOT of water and gets very expensive!! This SteriPen would help cut costs!! Please send me one!!!!

  16. Deanna

    February 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    This is awesome!! My family always calls me a camel, I drink so much water- this would be really handy in my life!!

  17. Ana De la Torre

    February 27, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks so much for your blog! It is so helpful and entertaining!

  18. Reef

    February 27, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    thanks for explaining this thing, sounds like the perfect tool for a traveler! 🙂

  19. Mélanie Balmet

    February 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    This is such a good tool ! I didn't know it existed ! Thanks for sharing this with us ! 😀

  20. Gustavo Figueroa

    February 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Anna …… love your Belize pictures, happy for you …… it seams you had a great time, good luck in Iceland……
    by the way ….. I want to win your water device hehehehe …..
    take care

  21. Stephania Shanks

    February 27, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    This is fantastic! I'm going to buy one this weekend. Thank you for sharing this awesome information!

  22. Vicky Sosa

    February 27, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Anna! This is such a cool little tool! I had never even heard about it. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  23. Kate-Frankie Brennan

    February 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    This looks brilliant! I’ve used water purification tablets before and been in places where I’ve spent money on water everyday. It’s a great way to save 🙂 Thanks for sharing this tip.
    Kate-Frankie Brennan recently posted…I Fell In Love With The SerengetiMy Profile

    • SteriPEN

      March 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Kate-Frankie! Hope you don’t mind if I chime and and reply to your great question … SteriPEN recommends using in clear water. Sediment can block the UV light and make it less effective. If you’re on the trail and the water isn’t clear, you should run it through a filter first. You can use any filter but we have a Pre-Filter (included with some SteriPENs) that fits snugly in a Nalgene bottle, or a Fits-All filter that can be used in anything from a Nalgene to a Gatorade or water bottle. Check them out here:

  24. Kelle

    February 27, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Love this! Love following your adventures. Keep sharing!

  25. The traveler

    February 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    So small yet so great device

  26. Anwar

    February 28, 2014 at 3:00 am

    I actually have a steripen, that I got for hiking. FYI if you are using it with hiking you might want a filter too.
    Anwar recently posted…Visiting the Bone Setter – IndiaMy Profile

  27. Ruth

    February 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Really love how I stumble upon these genius hacks on travel blogs! Cheers!
    Ruth recently posted…My First Climb (!)My Profile

  28. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs

    February 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Cool thing Anna, thanks for brining that to my attention. I almost always drink tap water, never been sick on my travels but I guess it is thanks to eating and drinking everything in a first place 🙂
    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #59My Profile

  29. SteriPEN

    February 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Kelly – It is a great addition to a home emergency kit too! When there is a boil water advisory in your area (and I know there sometimes are) SteriPEN destroys 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa! Unfortunately, chemicals are another story! Learn more about what what it removes here:

  30. SteriPEN

    February 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Stacey! Since you mentioned taste … traditionally iodine or chlorine tablets have been used to treat water and they can make water taste really bad. SteriPEN doesn't affect the taste at all and purifies the water in a fraction of the amount of time! The Freedom purifies a half liter in just 48 seconds, compared to tablets which take at least 15 minutes!

  31. Kelly Connolly McGhee

    February 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    SteriPEN thanks–aware it will not work on chemicals (not much does) but would love to have one for the backpack

  32. Suzanne Fluhr

    February 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Seems sort of magical, but the proof is in the results. I take it you never got sick from water borne diseases using it.

    • SteriPEN

      March 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Suzanne – It may seem magical, but UV light has been used to purify water for over 100 years. This is the same technology used by cities and bottling companies. SteriPEN was just the first to make the same technology available in a personal and portable device!

  33. Heather

    March 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    This is such a great concept! Not only does it save you money, it helps the environment. I always feel bad buying plastic bottles and just throwing them away in countries that don’t offer recycling.
    Heather recently posted…Exploring the Cultural Quirks of JapanMy Profile

    • SteriPEN

      March 2, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Heather – One SteriPEN can treat 8,000 liters of water. That’s the equivalent of 16,000 plastic water bottles and what a difference that can make to the environment. Instead of leaving a trail of water bottles travelers can safely drink tap water anywhere! For conscious travelers like yourself, a SteriPEN is a great way to go.

  34. Dawn Kealing

    March 1, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    This is so handy!! There have been many times where I am sitting in my hotel and either it is too late or I don’t have a friend with me to journey to the local store to pick up some water. Instantly my throat is completely dried up and I feel extremely dehydrated.. Am i the only one that gets that way? Haha. Well, this pen would most certainly be my saviour while traveling!
    Dawn Kealing recently posted…Life, Love and Adventure interviewed by A Southern GypsyMy Profile

  35. John J Donatelli

    March 2, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Awesome idea, great for traveling as well as for emergencies too!!

  36. Jordan

    March 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

    This would be awesome for an emergency kit too! Love it!

    • SteriPEN

      March 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Jordan – You’re so right! SteriPENs are a great addition to disaster preparedness emergency kits. SteriPEN has models operating on AA batteries and even one powered by hand crank, for when no batteries or power sources are available.

  37. Kyle Walters

    March 2, 2014 at 7:17 am

    This is awesome! I'm gonna buy one if i don't win 🙂

  38. Sebastien

    March 2, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I had never heard of Steripen, but now that I have I’d really like to win one! 😉

  39. Rachel

    March 2, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Oh wow, I would LOVE one of those for my trip to the Middle East this summer! It’ll be 40+ celsius so I’ll need to drink LOTS of water!
    Rachel recently posted…Alzheimer’s and my mother-in-lawMy Profile

  40. Makinna Belvoir

    March 2, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I don't know why I never thought of something like this on my travels! Great idea!

  41. Joanna Kalafatis

    March 2, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Really cool tool for traveling! Thanks for recommending it!

  42. Go Road Trippin'

    March 2, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Really cool tool for traveling! Thanks for recommending it!

  43. Joanna Kalafatis

    March 2, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Hey Anna! Thanks for recommending this, it seems like a really useful cool little tool. I love discovering new things to make my travels cheaper and easier. Keep on posting tips like this!
    Joanna Kalafatis recently posted…A Guide to Surviving Brazilian CarnivalMy Profile

  44. Mariachiara Faraon

    March 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Uuuuuh I want one!!!!!! 😀

  45. Scott Lee Holloway

    March 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Sounds amazing!! You really sell it well, should be a spokesperson for SteriPEN haha, wish me luck, got my fingers and toes crossed 🙂 x

  46. Barbara

    March 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    When I went to see a travel nurse in Portland (ME) she recommended a steripen to me, but I left for NYC and couldn’t find a place that sold one! If I win, can you ship it to New Zealand? 😉

    • SteriPEN

      March 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Barbara! Best of luck in the contest! If you don’t happen to win the SteriPEN Freedom, there is a distributor in New Zealand and you can contact them for pricing and availability. Their contact information is here: or you can contact SteriPEN at and we’ll find a retailer near you. Thanks for your interest in SteriPEN.

  47. Jenna Pay Oldham

    March 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    What an awesome little invention! I have never heard of that before! If I don't win one from this giveaway, then I will definitely purchase one! Awesome awesome!!!! It makes me so happy when there are inventions that lessen our environmental impact! 🙂

  48. Zack Krieger

    March 3, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Not a bad tool at all!

  49. Zof

    March 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Awesome! I’ve never thought the cost of bottled water might be this high…. so glad I live in a country where the tap water is drinkable!
    Zof recently posted…Bratislava Street Art GalleryMy Profile

  50. Davin Browsin

    March 3, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    i like it because its compact and acts like a flashlight too

  51. Andrea Nicholas

    March 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Wow, I didn't realize they could be so affordable!

  52. Sandra Koloshnjaji

    March 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Hey Anna. This looks very useful. Hope to win it. 🙂

  53. Anna Freeman

    March 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    That's so neat! I would have never even thought that there was something like this out there! Whether I win it or purchase it myself, this will definitely be a must have for my future traveling! Thank you for the information, Anna!

    • SteriPEN

      March 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Anna – The technology used in SteriPEN has actually been around for over 100 years in city water treatment facilities and bottling companies. SteriPEN was the first to use it to create a personal, portable water purifier. The first one was sold in 2001!

  54. Jenny Lee Paiva

    March 3, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Love the video demo! I tried to sign up for an additional entry for the contest but there seemed to be some kind of glitch with my subscription? I'd love another entry opportunity thought! 😉 I hope to see some more videos and maybe even some GoPro footage soon too! Thanks for always sharing your adventures. One day…someday soon…I will get to experience the journey of Travel Blogging. Thanks for all the helpful tips and inspiration in the meantime !

    • anna

      March 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Thank you Jenny! Photos are my thing, but I’m starting to have fun with video too! I’ll definitely be filming in Utah and Iceland some! I double checked and I see you ending in 23 entered on my newsletter list. All good 🙂

  55. Lisa Livingston

    March 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Will definately get one before my next trip!

  56. Amy

    March 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    No way! How have I never heard of this? I got a pretty bad bacterial infection from drinking water in the Philippines–would’ve been nice to have this! I’m going to do some research on it. Have you ever gotten sick from drinking water while traveling and using SteriPen?
    Amy recently posted…Playing in Snow in Yosemite National ParkMy Profile

    • SteriPEN

      March 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Amy – When used correctly, SteriPEN destroys 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. It has been trusted by hikers and outdoor adventurers since it was introduced in REI in 2001. Over 750,000 have been sold since then keeping a lot of people from getting sick on their adventures!

  57. Lisa Zucker

    March 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    What a great idea and yes I need one. Love travel and adventure and this is a necessity for doing so…….

  58. Rita

    March 3, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    That’s awesome! I want one of those 🙂

  59. Daniel Maenle

    March 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I love you Anna, I enjoy reading your posts and still remember spending time with you and my son at Union Station.

  60. Sophie Moussi

    March 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Hey Anna, that's a brilliant idea, way more practical and cheaper then buying bottled water.

  61. Dustin

    March 4, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Love the new series of blog posts – keep ’em comin Anna !

  62. Kevin - Guess This City

    March 4, 2014 at 3:34 am

    I used to use a much larger scale version of this when making maple syrup in upstate New York. We had something like it that the sap would have to pass through in order to sterilize it before using it in the wood boiler. It really is amazing the power of ultraviolet light when concentrated.

    I think I might just have to invest in one of these.
    Kevin – Guess This City recently posted…Selfies from people around the worldMy Profile

    • SteriPEN

      March 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Rachel! There are several models of SteriPEN that work the same but have slightly different features, depending on how they will be used. If you are camping and will be off the power grid for some time, you might want to consider a battery operated model. Also, the Freedom purifies up to a half liter of water, while other models can do up to a liter of water at a time. You can find the models recommended for camping and hiking here:

  63. Maria Balderas

    March 4, 2014 at 4:49 am

    this is a great idea! never heard of it before…thanks for the tip!

  64. Ernie Balderas

    March 4, 2014 at 4:54 am

    That's awesome

  65. Gladys Christina

    March 4, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Great Info! Thank you soo much…I love the pictures that you took for this article, xoxo

  66. Logan Nelsen

    March 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Wicked sweet idea!! UV light! I would love one just because it's fricken cool!

  67. Adam St Denis

    March 6, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Anna ! Thank you so much for informing me on this product ! This is great where can i buy it ? Thanks again i had no idea this even existed !

  68. Anonymous

    March 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Hi Anna! Thank you for sharing! You are really inspiring me to live my dream of traveling the world. I always thought this will only be a dream without any chance of fulfilling it as long as i live. But u taught me to just do the first step and just go! 🙂 Thank you so much for sahring all those amazing stories and pictures. I never heard of a SteriPEN but i think it's a great thing to have and i totally agree with you 🙂

  69. Günter Glück

    March 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Wow. That’s awesome! It really is a win, win, win idea! 🙂

  70. Lenka

    March 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks for info, I didn’t know, that something like this you can buy. I would love to have one like that. It’s great!.

  71. Timothy Warner

    March 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Anna! You replied to a fb message of mine once! 😛

    I’m finishing off university this year in the UK, with some ideas to jet off over the summer months.. Norway, Croatia and India on my list to date! Could definitely do with a SteriPen! Love the pics. Wonder if we’ll ever cross paths one day.


  72. Pingback: Best of the Best: My Fellow Blogger’s Top 5 Posts (Including Travel Tips & More) | Life, Love and Adventure |

  73. namita

    March 8, 2014 at 6:37 am

    This is so cool ..thanks anna ! Im definitely getting one for all my trips

  74. A Foodie in Europe

    March 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    That is cool! I definitely need to invest in that!

  75. Justin 'Perry' Meyer

    March 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Hey Anna, you Rock. Love seeing all your photos and words of wisdom. I'm jealous everyday, haha 😉

  76. Tom Shaw

    March 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I love everything travel orientated and, as a guy, i love gadgets. Win win!

  77. Ben-Jamin Toy

    March 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    steripens are great and a must have! for larger quantities for group travel or hiking I use a sawyer point one gravity filter with 2-2 liter bags…

  78. Novotny Narrative

    March 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I love this post! I will absolutely be picking one of these up for our travels now; what a great idea, and you are right- a money saver. Great information! xo

  79. maria

    March 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Anna! This is great tool! I never heard about it. I know there are some pills which work similar.

  80. Casey Panepinto

    March 13, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Ahhh! This would have been great last week in Costa Rica…I ended up buying a bit of water and then just risking it =/ all turned out alright though. I was looking into buying a LifeStraw but this little guy might be even better!

  81. Daniel Maupin

    March 15, 2014 at 3:52 am

    This looks really cool. Yet another really awesome thing I have been exposed to by you and your travels. Your posts always renew the spark in me for traveling even though it's my job driving a truck. I always look forward to what's next from you.

  82. Logan McQueen

    March 15, 2014 at 7:23 am

    its a much smaller device to have in the pack, for the backpacking trips that you were JUST at, Anna. 🙂 If i don't win it could you post a link for where you'd recommend buying one from. s'pose for everyone else, for that matter hah!

  83. Arpi

    March 15, 2014 at 8:13 am


  84. Sioban Millward

    March 15, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Fantastic idea! This will come in handy for my trips. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  85. Sol

    April 22, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Hi Anna! Great Advice and Great Product!

  86. Pingback: The Top 10 Ways I Afford to Travel the World | Crazyintherain-The Legendary Adventures of Anna |

  87. Robbie Guerrero

    June 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Wonderful to meet a Maniac…it’s like jelly on toast…Wonderful 🙂

    I have not travelled as much as you have, but I have my passport. My bucket list is to be a world traveller so I will follow your lead 🙂

    Hope to hear more about your travels…I am a big fan of travel stories and strong women 🙂


  88. Julian Kashani

    July 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    amazing. thanks for sharing