Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink!

When you travel abroad always remember that you are the guardian of your own personal health. Be careful of everything you eat and drink. As a rule of thumb, it is easier to buy bottled water than to boil it. It's the bacterial bugs in the local water that you have to watch out for, and with a few wise choices your trip will not be interrupted by bad water.

Outside of Western Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, the risk factors for poor quality drinking water come into play. The water in the nicer hotels in Israel are safe. Here are some tips that will make your H20 travel experience a good one.

  1. If you are not sure whether you should drink the water; DON'T DRINK THE WATER!

  2. Buy bottled water, it is available nearly everywhere. When you buy bottled water, look to make sure that the seal on the bottle cap is not broken. There are poor people who will recycle the brand name bottles with water from their local wells and sell it to you at bargain prices.

  3. If available, buy brand names you recognize like Evian, Fiji, Dasani, or another brand. The key is to check and make sure the seal on the bottle cap has not been broken.

  4. If bottled water is not available, you can find soda drinks or soft drinks, as they are sometimes called, with brand names like Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, and Fanta.

  5. If you are going to travel to someplace that is so remote that the Coke or Pepsi salesperson hasn't been there yet, you may want to purchase a small portable water purifier or even a water straw that removes 99.9999 percent of all bacteria. This tip is only for those who are going to the hinterlands of Timbuktu, which, by the way, is in Africa.

  6. Even in nice hotels that claim to have a water purification system, it is a good idea to not drink the tap water. Those who do drink the hotel tap water are also lucky at playing Russian roulette. And here's another tip: Don't buy the expensive hotel bottled water. Go outside the hotel to a local store and stock up.

  7. When taking a shower, keep your mouth shut and don't drink the shower water or brush your teeth in the shower.

  8. To remind yourself not to use the tap water from the sink in your hotel room, put a bottle of water right in the sink basin. We are creatures of habit and it would be a natural thing for you to turn on the tap water and brush your teeth. The bottle of water standing in the sink basin will remind you to brush your teeth with bottled water.

  9. Beware of lettuce and those wonderful mouth watering salads that are made with lettuce. Lettuce is like a sponge and even when you wash it off you do not remove the bacteria inside the lettuce leaf. It would be better for you to say "I went through Egypt" than to admit after eating the lettuce that "Egypt went through me!"

  10. Drink lots of water and avoid dehydration, which is the number one cause of headaches and loss of strength for travelers. Your body is estimated to be about 70 percent water, so maintaining proper hydration keeps your body running effectively and efficiently.

  11. Think of "ice cubes" as frozen bacteria. In countries where the water is unsafe, beware of using ice unless the ice has been made with purified water. It would be unwise to buy safe bottled water and mix it with "frozen bacteria" that may come alive when thawed and kept you close to a toilet for the rest of your trip.

  12. Washing your hands with soap and water is okay, but carrying a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel for public restrooms is always a good idea.
Remember being water wise and following these suggestions will contribute to an enjoyable journey.

--- John L. Lund has taught as adjunct faculty at major universities throughout Washington, Idaho, California and Utah. He is a consultant to both the business world and the private sector as a family counselor. He currently travels with Fun For Less Tours as an educator. Find out more about these tours.

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