How can I get safe water overseas?

A lingering question for overseas and Mexico travelers has to do with gaining assurance that safe drinking water is readily available. The tap water quality in many poorer nations is indeed questionable and can cause intestinal upsets and even more serious illnesses.

The good news is that the major water bottlers have an impressive market penetration all across the globe and while safe bottled drinking water is not universally available across the globe, it is pretty close. My rule of thumb when traveling is that regardless of how developed and/or civil the nation is, I don’t drink the water if a product like Dasani, Aquafina or Nestle Water is available. It’ is a bit inconvenient, but for me, the cost and inconvenience are far outweighed by the comfort of knowing my water is agreeable with my body.

In many of the Nordic nations, chlorine is not used in drinking water. While the water is generally safe, just like our tap water, it may from time-to-time have slightly detectable levels of bacteria. Two things to remember about this;

  • Bacteria in non-chlorinated water will multiply very quickly. So if you are drinking such water, don’t let it sit around very long, and make sure to use fresh, clean glasses with each subsequent drink.
  • Bacteria that are common in one nation may not be so common in the US, While safe for many consumers, the introduction of new bacteria into our system, even ones safe to others, could cause us to become ill while our bodies build up resistance.

More good news! There are quite a few travel water purification products for the concerned traveler. They range from chemical additives, to reverse osmosis filters, ceramic filters, activated carbon filters and more. A bit of research will help you determine which product might work best in your destination city.

Me? I prefer to drink something I am familiar with and comfortable with. When I travel, I look to the water bottling giants.