Last updated on 6 August, 2023
Clean fresh water is an absolute must have. Simply put, clean water is essential, a MUST have. Without over dramatising it, clean fresh water is fundamental to human survival.
Usually for most of us in places like Australia, and perhaps outside of times of droughts and water restrictions, many of us give little thought to where our water comes from, how much we use or how our water is stored. Generally we trust that when we turn on the tap, clean drinkable water is will be available for our immediate use.
What we aim to do in this article is to get those like us who are budget travellers enjoying free, low cost and or off grid caravanners and campers (or consider these options) tips about where and how you will access water as you travel, think about how you will store water and help you decide much water you will need day to day.
Further we aim to provide some ideas for a saving and conserving water. The more we caravan Australia, notably as we travel and we see the drought affected regions, the more we realise how precious clean fresh water really is.
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The Need For Water
Clean fresh water is essential for maintaining good health and human survival. Water meets two of our needs:
- Hydration (drinking and cooking)
Not having enough or access to fresh clean drinking water would mean risking dehydration which at it’s worse can lead to major ill health and even death.
- Hygiene (cleaning)
Good hygiene is also necessary for maintaining good health as it keeps disease and the potential for infections to a minimum.
It is necessary then that as travellers in Australia that you have access to sufficient clean fresh water for your needs.
Related read: How To Do Laundry While Camping
Where To Access Water
As noted already clean drinkable water is something most of us are accustomed to having conveniently on tap in our homes. However when travelling in caravan and living in a caravan like we do, it becomes necessary to have to access water from a variety of locations. Broadly speaking water is more readily available in cities and towns and maybe more difficult to access in rural and remote areas.
Places or locations water could possibly be (I say “possibly” because none are guaranteed) accessed are listed below. Personally we use the Wikicamp App and use the filter for ‘water’ to narrow down the potential options but even that is no guarantee.
- Information Centres
Many Information Centres around the country are set up to assist caravanners and travellers including providing access to water.
- Petrol or Fuel Stations
Most petrol and fuel stations have taps. Start by looking for the Air and Water signs.
- Local Parks, Sport Fields and or Showgrounds
Many facilities such as these in local communities have taps because they are used for maintaining the grounds of the facility. It is important to note that access to taps in facilities such as these can vary greatly. Taps can be present but the water turned off at a mains, getting access with your vehicle or caravan can be restricted by barriers such as fences and or there can be no handle on the tap.
- Water Stations
Water stations are set up for industry to use and are set up for a user pay system by local councils. Many are available for us by the general public for free or a minimal fee for a limited amount of water. For example it cost $1 for 200 litres at the water station in Gympie.
- Low Cost and Free Campgrounds
By no stretch can you assume a free or low cost campground will provide access to water but there are many that do.
- Local Council or Government Buildings
These include places like libraries, community centres and the like. Sometimes, for the use of watering gardens surrounding buildings like libraries there is a tap.
We have often found the taps are not suitable for attaching a hose to for fulling our tank or in a position we can park our caravan however we do regularly use these taps for filling our 10 and 20 litre portable water bottles.
Calculating Your Water Needs
How much water should you be carrying? This depends on a few things such as when you can realistically access water again, how many people traveling with you and how you use water. As a bare minimum we use the guide below to decide how much water we need to carry or how long we can go before we need to access a water supply again:
- Drinking: 2 litres per person per day and 1 litre per day for our dog
- Cooking 2 litres per day
- Bathing 2 litres per day per person (when using a washer and a small tub) or 5 – 10 litres per day per person if using a shower (this can varying significantly depending on your shower’s efficiency and how long you and your fellow travellers stand under the shower; this is just a guide)
- Laundry: 10 litres per bucket wash twice a week (for a family with kids this could be significantly more)
- Chemical toilet: 10 litres per week
Based on the above our water needs per week for two people and a dog would be approximately 80 litres per week. I can say realistically we use a little more than 80 litres per week, closer to 100 litres per week. This is very likely because for the most part on our travels so far we have had reasonable access to water so we haven’t really had to be overly careful about our water use. We are not wasteful but we haven’t been stringent either, not yet. How accessible water is will (or it should) influence your behaviours when it comes to using the water you have; more accessible usage is likely to increase and when access is limited then usage is likely to be more stringent and align with water savings.
Water Carrying Capacity
Currently our caravan has a 90 litre tank and we carry an additional 60 litres in water containers for a total water carrying capacity of 150 litres. This gives us about 10 days of water based on our usage of 80 – 100 litres per week. You too should have a good idea of your water carrying capacity and how long your water, based on your usage will last you and when travelling plan accordingly to refill your water supplies.
There are a number of options available for carrying additional water including additional tanks, water bladders (which store away nicely, taking up little space when not being used) and water containers. Whatever option/s are right for you is for you to decided however there is a limit to how much water you can carry, one because of the space it takes up and secondly and most importantly due to the weight water adds to your load. Note and remember that water weighs 1 kg per 1 litre. When at our capacity we are carrying 150kg just in water.
For the purpose of refilling your caravan or camper water tanks and containers is advisable to have a food grade hose and a tap fitting. We also recommend that you research the options available for filtering water that you access or collect. Water borne bugs such as giardia can cause serious illness and filtering your water will greatly aid in ensuring these bugs are removed and your water is fit for consumption.
Learn to Conserve or Save Water
Make the most of your water. Use it wisely and conserve it where and when you can. Here are some ideas to think about:
- Don’t bathe every day.
- Most days do a simple clean of face, hands and feet with a wet washer before bed.
- Do a more thorough bathe every third or so day using a small tub of water (1 – 2 litres of water) and a washer.
- Shower every third or so day.
- Use a tub or bucket in the shower to catch the cold water before the warm water and use the caught water for cleaning and laundry.
- Stand in a large tub while showering and use this water in your chemical toilet or for your laundry.
- Keep shower to a minimum. Get in, get wet, turn off the water, soap and lather up, turn water back on to rinse, turn water off again.
- Join the No Poo movement which is no longer using shampoos or conditioners in your hair allowing its natural oils to keep it clean and shiny. Usually takes a few weeks for your hair to naturally adjust.
- Wear clothing multiple times (except underwear, that should be changed daily). Generally rule I use is: socks 2 – 3 days
- t shirts or tops 2 – 3 days
- dresses 3 days
- jeans, shorts or skirts at least a week (or until they can walk on their own)
- jumpers a week of on and off use (especially if only wearing in the evening for a few hours)
- BBQ, fry, bake or steam instead of boiling when cooking.
- Do one pot cooking. Saves on water for cooking and washing up.
- Use water from your shower for your laundry.
- Use wool wash in your laundry wash as it doesn’t need rinsing.
- Do not fill the water reservoir in your chemical toilet used for the ‘flush’ instead have a spray bottle and a small toilet brush. After use and dry flush use the spray bottle to spray the bowl of the toilet and the brush to give it a quick clean.
- Use water collected from your shower wash in your chemical toilet or to do your laundry
You too may have some great ideas. I am a strong advocate for the #waragainstwaste so not a fan of things like using baby wipes even though they can be used to start a campfire.
In summary, be aware and know:
- of your water usage and needs
- how much water you can and should carry and the weight it adds to your load
- how long your water capacity will last you based on your usage
- how and where water is accessible on your travels and if there are any conditions such as water restrictions in town that will limit the availability of water
- how you use water and be doing what you can to save it