The One Little Thing: Water Bottles

This is a post in an ongoing feature on Her Packing List called “The One Little Thing“. Each week or two, I’ll be interviewing a traveling lady to find out the one little thing she just can’t travel without. This one is brought to you by Rebecca Several:

I live in Los Angeles, capital of heat, home of no winter. We drink liquids, especially water, like it’s going out of style. Technically, we are a desert, you just can’t see it anymore as we have built this city on top of it. Nearly everyone carries a bottle of water around at all times. Cars are filled to the brim with empties.

water bottlesEver since the TSA in the United States banned bringing liquids on board airplanes, an empty bottle has been a requirement for myself. I drink so much water, I can’t afford to buy bottled all the time. And besides, tap is fine. In some places it has a weird taste, but beggars can’t be choosers. At every airport, once you past security, there are water fountains for you to fill your empty up.

What one little thing can you not travel without?

A water bottle. Ideally, full. But if I am flying, I bring an empty one. Doesn’t have to be anything special, a smaller plastic one works fine and fits into my purse.

Why has this one item been so important to you?

I drink a lot of water and since the TSA banned bringing liquids on board and I refuse out of principal (and the environment) to keep buying fresh bottles, I bring an empty in my carry-on. There are always water fountains past security and the first thing I do after putting my shoes back on is search one out to fill my bottle.

How packable is it? Does it take up much room? Is it heavy?

It’s quiet packable. It does take up a small bit of room, but an empty bottle is very light.

water bottles 2

Why would you recommend this to your travel friends?

Instead of wasting money on overpriced bottled water once you pass security (what *they* want you to do), save money and a bottle by bringing your own! I have yet to be in an airport that does not provide working water fountains.

Can you name one incident or situation where you were so happy to have this item with you?

How about every time I fly? Flying dries you out and not having to wait for beverage service is a lifesaver. And you know it’s only a matter of time before they start charging for drinks (A-hem, Virgin Blue in Australia….)

How did you hear about this item?

Every day life! I usually carry full bottles with me in daily and and I started to make sure I always brought an empty one after the ban. Sometimes I forget and you can catch me chugging an entire bottle while I wait in line. There is nowhere to throw away liquids once you are in line and I don’t want to get rid of my bottle.

What sort of traveler is this item perfect for?

Everyone! We all need water to survive. You are saving money plus it cuts down on our use to keep using new plastic bottles.

About the author: Rebecca Several works at an office job by day and spends her free time figuring out how to make her limited US vacation days last the longest by night. She originally traveled to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa back in 2007, parlaying that into a general work permit for an additional few months before discovering the Work and Holiday Visa in Australia where she traveled for an additional 8 months. She only meant to be overseas for one year but whoops! Didn’t make it home for over two years. She writes about her travels on her website Travels at 88mph and can be found on Twitter @purplekat99.


  1. says

    Great article. I always try to take a Nalgene with me on trips, however recently I’ve changed my tact. If you can’t drink the tap water in the country you’re travelling to, then it’s not worth taking a bottle (except for perhaps a disposable bottle for the flight, these shouldn’t be re used much due to the chemicals in them).

    I recently lugged 2 empty bottles around Peru with me for 3 weeks with only rare opportunities to wash them properly with boiling water, so they usually stayed empty.

    However, on other trips it’s a money saver, time saver and environment saver!

    • says

      Yeah I guess it all depends on your travel style and destination… I find that even in places where you can’t drink the water, a water bottle is good. When I am at a place for at least 2 days, I’ll buy a big, big bottle of water and use it to fill my little water bottle throughout the day.

  2. says

    What a great website! Even though I am in SE Asia right now and can buy water very cheaply, I always carry collapsible water bottles with me. They are great for when you are in places where you can refill water bottles for cheap or free. Kind of like this – They have been great, fold up and store easily when not in use, and when you fill them up, can take up to a litre or two!

  3. chamekke says

    I took a collapsible water bottle on my first trip to Japan, and it ROCKS. It’s super-easy to use, and takes up virtually no room when it’s empty. You can empty it and take it through airport security, then fill it up at a fountain, and voila — if you get thirsty on the plane, you don’t have to keep bugging the attendant for teensy cups of water :-) And it’s great to have on hand when traipsing around in hot weather.

    The bottle I got was a Platypus, FWIW; it was the envy of my fellow travellers, and I’m still using it 3 years later.

  4. says

    Like chamekke, I use a collapsible bottle when I travel or go hiking. It’s a Vapur brand one that I picked up locally. I love the fact that when it’s empty it takes up almost no room. Plus I find it easier to get underneath the fountain stream to fill up.

  5. Dianne says

    In countries where you can’t drink (or brush teeth) with tap water, a Steripen or other UV water sterilization device is just the ticket. A Steripen takes up very little room. Combined with a re-usable .5L or 1L collapsible water bottle, you have a solution that will not add to the horrible plastic water bottle trash problem.

  6. Misha says

    I have a 1L flexible water bottle that I bring everywhere and have traveled with for up to 6 months at a time and it’s incredible. It would definitely be my “One Little Thing.” Super easy because the more you drink the smaller it gets and it can fold up whichever way you need it to. I have a Vapur Element Bottle and love it. I know a lot of people love Platypus, I haven’t had experience with it so I can’t compare the too.


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