Drinking clean water while traveling is another one of those things that most people just do not know about. Most Americans take the ability to get clean water straight from the tap for granted.
Most countries do not have clean tap water and drinking clean water while on the road is of the utmost importance.
Why You Should Drink Clean Water While Traveling?
There are a two extremely important reasons that you should drink clean water while traveling. Really, you should always drink water, but it’s especially important while traveling.
First, the water in other locations will have pathogens that you have no built up resistance to defend against. This means that you will see the local residents’ drinking water with no issues. However, if you take a sip, then you might have a stay at the hospital.
The other reason is that the tap water will often just taste bad. This bad tasting tap water serves as a good reminder that the tap water is not safe to drink in the case that you accidentally drink it.
For example, in Cambodia I inadvertently drank some tap water. Once the water entered my lips I realized my mistake. The water tasted absolutely terrible and I spit it out. Thankfully, it was not enough to cause an illness.
Tips to Drink Clean Water While Traveling
1. Only drink bottled water
This might be one of the most obvious tips when traveling. However, many travelers avoid drinking bottled water because they assume it is expensive. This is generally no true. In fact, most countries other than the United States have very reasonably priced bottled water.
Not all bottled water is created equally though. Some clever vendors will refill empty water bottles with tap water and sell it as a clean water. That is why you should avoid bottled water if it has already been opened.
Some vendors will even add a new seal. For the absolute best safety you should only buy water from established convenience stores. However, vendors adding a new seal is not a particularly common scam and you will most likely not encounter it.
The next tip works great for those locations that have expensive bottled water or if you fear vendors that might tamper with your water.
2. Use water purification tablets
If you suspect that the country has expensive bottled water, then you should purchase water purification tablets beforehand. Amazon has very reasonably priced water purification tablets that you can order before your trip.
The big problem with these tablets is that they do not make the water taste better. This can cause some issues in those locations with bad tasting tap water. Granted, drinking bad tasting clean water is better than drinking dirty water. However, you will almost certainly drink less water if it tastes bad.
This is makes water purification tablets a good backup plan, but not the best primary plan.
3. Avoid drinks that have water added to them
You should avoid drinks that have water added to them. This usually includes tea. It may also include some soups, lemonade, and smoothies. Oftentimes local vendors will use dirty tap water instead of clean water.
Now, you can watch the vendor and see if they use clean water. The best course of action is to avoid any drinks that you do not see prepared in front of you.
4. Watch the ice
Ice is another one that makes people sick. They will watch the vendor make the drink, but fail to realize the toxins that often lurk in the ice.
A good way to spot clean ice is to look for holes in the center of the ice. Those holes usually indicate that the ice was made in a factory. Ice factories will almost always use filtered water when manufacturing ice.
5. Hot food is generally safe
Food boiled in water before eating is generally safe to eat. The boiling process will usually kill any pathogens in the water and make it safe to eat.
Now, sometimes you do have to worry about raw vegetables. Street vendors will often wash their vegetables in tap water, which could make you sick. There is some debate about whether this has enough pathogens to make you sick.
Honestly, that just depends on the source of the water. If the water is straight from the Ganges River, then it will certainly make you very sick.
A small amount of water from the tap in a country like Thailand?
You might feel a grumble, but you probably won’t get very sick.
Eating hot food is one of those things that you just have to use discretion while doing. Some people will avoid it like the plague. Other travelers eat everything in sight.
6. Careful Brushing Your Teeth
This one is similar to vegetables washed in water. A little dirty might not make you severly sick. However, you just have to base this off of your location and the amount of water that you drink.
You shouldn’t swallow water while brushing your teeth, so water in a country like Thailand or Russia should generally be safe. Again, if the tap water is known for being extremely dirty, then you should putting it in your mouth.
7. Use a Portable Water Filter
Finally, a portable water filter is another option for staying safe while traveling. You can buy these on Amazon before your trip and keep it in your bag. These work if there is little access to clean water anywhere in the country (parts of Africa and rural parts of Asia).
The filters work better than the tablets because some of the filters will actually make the water taste better. It just depends on the filter.
Also, make sure you bring enough filters to last you an entire trip. You do not want to run out of filters in a foreign country.
You probably won’t be able to find replacements.
All in all, drinking clean water while traveling is not particularly difficult if you know the tips and tricks. The best course of action of course is to just be prepared for whatever nature throws at you.
This means bringing some water purification tablets and maybe your own water filter. You can also use bottled water as well. Just make to watch out for any tampering with your water bottle.