Bottle of water
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Taking Empty Water Bottles Through Airport Security Checkpoints

Note: Stupid Tip of the Day is a not-so-new regular feature of The Gate which will not be featured regularly — if at all — after today…or maybe not; but after reading this article, you will probably ask me “Water you talking about?!?” instead of keeping that question bottled up inside of you.

ydrating yourself during a trip is something which you must do — especially if you are exerting yourself more than usual; or if you are visiting a warmer or drier climate. Consider carrying at least one empty disposable plastic water bottle with you to refill when you have the opportunity to do so.

“A great solution to the current options of paying high prices for water at airport shops or going under-hydrated”, noted Keri Anderson of Heels First Travel in this article posted earlier today. “Just note that your actual results may vary based on the TSA agent you get since official policy sometimes gets interpreted differently.”

In all of the years in which I have traveled, I have never had any problems taking empty water bottles through airport security checkpoints anywhere in the world. In fact, I often carry one larger size and one smaller size of the empty disposable plastic bottles to use while I am on my trip. The bottles are usually from either aboard an airplane or from a stay in a hotel room — both of which where I usually get the water free of charge.

Water sold at airports usually commands a premium price which is typically not worth the purchase. I can wait until I board the airplane to hydrate myself, thank you very much.

I have not considered purchasing any of a variety of containers available — such as collapsible water bottles — simply because I do not believe they are worth the money, the added weight, or the inconvenience. If I accidentally lose a disposable plastic water bottle — whose weight is negligible — I can simply get another one rather easily without paying a single penny; and if I do want to purposely dispose of the plastic water bottle because I no longer have a use for it, all I need to do is find the nearest recycling bin and drop it in there, which can help the environment.

When I arrive at my destination, I will usually purchase a large bottle of water at a great price — usually at a supermarket — and then refill my smaller bottles as necessary. How large a bottle of water I purchase depends on my thirst; the length of my stay; and what opportunities I might have for free refills of water. Recent stays at hotel properties in Hurghada — a resort town on the shores of the Red Sea in Egypt, which is a country which you should consider visiting for these six reasons — had areas which dispensed cold drinking water free of charge to guests; and I refilled bottles there as necessary. Accordingly, I did not need to purchase a larger bottle of water in Hurghada.

On my recent road trip in southern Africa — which included South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique — I would stop off at a supermarket and purchase a five-liter jug of water, which I kept in the back seat of the rental car or in the hotel rooms in which I stayed; and I would refill my water bottles as necessary along the way. The cost of a larger container of water is usually significantly less money than a comparable amount of smaller bottles of water — and I have found that the generic or less-expensive brand of water is usually just fine for quenching a thirst.

As a person born and raised in New York, I have always contended that the best water in the world is unadulterated New York City tap water; and I had the chance to drink it again a couple of days ago. I was especially thrilled to find that adjacent to gate D2 at LaGuardia Airport is a station specifically designed for passengers to refill their water bottles with cold, refreshing New York City tap water — and, of course, I had an empty plastic water bottle with me.

I do not believe that you need three opportunities to correctly guess what I did next. In fact, I still have some of that delectable water sitting in that plastic bottle in my home right now — shown in the photograph at the top of this article — waiting to be savored by me. Yes — it is that good, in my opinion…

…so much so, in fact, that if I stay at a hotel room within the city limits of New York, I will refill empty water bottles in the bathroom sink. It is the one notable exception to usually not drinking the tap water whenever I travel; and that is only for the reason of taste — not necessarily health.

When it comes to New York City tap water, I do not care if it flowed through rusty pipes, was filtered with garbage from a toxic waste dump, or had snails and fish excrement swimming in it. I do not care if keeping it warm in a plastic bottle is bad for my health. As I said, it is the best water in the world, in my opinion. Just keep it flowing for me…

…and at least I had a plastic water bottle with me with which to fill. You just never know when they can come in handy…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I may have read this blog title wrong. It seems like you’re trying to label this as a really easy tip to follow. Instead, the title reads like you’re calling Keri stupid. She’s not.


    1. By no means have I called Keri Anderson stupid, colleen.

      Stupid Tip of the Day is an irregular series of articles where something which might be taken for granted by one person may not be known by another person and could help that person…

      …meaning that Keri Anderson offered a smart tip which I had not thought about writing until I read her article — even though I regularly practice it while I travel…

      1. Why not call it “Smart tip of the Day” then to prevent any misinterpretations? 😉 I know you weren’t calling Keri stupid; but it may be inferred from the title and the second paragraph that you called Keri’s tip stupid (not Keri; but her tip!)

        1. I will be the first to concede that the written word is amongst the toughest forms of communication to convey, Joey. I would never call anyone stupid; but if readers are perceiving that I have called either Keri Anderson or the tip she provided stupid, then perhaps a name change for that series of tips is in order.

          Here is the premise behind the series of Stupid Tip of the Day articles: it is a tip which would seem so obvious to some people to the point where a person might consider it stupid for being so obvious: “Come on now, Brian — everyone knew that!”…

          …and yet there would be other people who that tip would help, not realizing that it existed. “Wow — I had never thought of that. Thank you!”

          I could be wrong; but I am not sure that Obvious Tip of the Day would work as a title. Suggestions and input from readers would greatly be appreciated!

  2. Beautiful storybabout a waterbottle! It’s nice to hear that you love NYC water, but have you ever tried Dutch tap water? 🙂 🙂

    1. I will have to defer that question to Michael — who is the author of TravelZork…

      …and ask him if I drank the tap water at where he is based in Amsterdam; but I do not recall.

      Thank you, John jacobs.

      I will have to pay more attention to drinking the tap water the next time I am in the Netherlands…

  3. I never go anywhere without my HydroFlask.
    I find it insulting to pay more for water in most places than soda. And I don’t drink soda.
    Studies have shown also that much bottled water in the U.S. is no purer than tap water.
    I’m going to the Radisson (Hilton?) Aruba this fall. I read Aruba’s water is AH-MAZING!

    1. I have not, Salar; and the funny thing is that I almost booked a flight to there earlier this year but then decided not to do so at the last minute.

      When I am scheduled to go through the security checkpoint at that airport, I intend to try to get an empty disposable plastic water bottle through and see if that causes a problem…

  4. I also take a disposable bottle through security and is saves a ton. Tap water from many hotels is fine except there are a lot of hotels that use water softner salt in the water (and to keep you from washing your hair properly).

    1. I have heard other people blame not being able to properly wash and maintain their hair on the toiletries provided by the hotel, DaninMCI — especially the conditioner.

      I learned something new. Thank you…

  5. Dutch water is far superior to NYC water, I should know. I am currently living in NYC and also lived in NL. I have to filter my water here since it still has a weird taste compared to NL.

    My suggestion for others who encounter water that is not the the best tasting but is drinkable is to use a Brita water bottle filter. The filter also fits in a Platypus collapsible water bottle. I have two different sizes of these, a half a liter and a full. I usually carry the liter as a bladder.

    1. You are the second person to vouch for Dutch water, Jenny. Now I have to try it.

      Of course, taste is subjective. Perhaps my affinity for New York City tap water is because New York is where I was born and raised.

      Thank you for the suggestions!

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