Water – Safe abroad? Good question! 21st August 2019

Can I drink the tap water? Or rather too many young travellers assume they can and are in for a nasty shock when they realised they actually can’t. Living in the UK, we just take this for granted and have done so for decades. Where would I feel safe drinking the tap water? Central Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia for certain and perhaps Chile and Argentina.  A Chinese audience recently said to me ‘absolutely not’ and quite definitely I would not be drinking tap water in India, Laos, Vietnam, Bolivia and Peru to name a few. 

In many countries you will probably be wanting to consume around 2 to 3 litres per day, so this is a big chunk out of a budget if buying bottled water. But even when purchasing bottled water, you need to be careful, check the seals and open it yourself – remember the scene in the film Slumdog Millionaire! 

The reason you can’t drink the tap water is that it hasn’t been sufficiently treated to remove pathogens such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Clearly you can’t see them so often it's a judgment call – do I trust it?

So what are the solutions, how to make the water potable? There are a number of options; boil it, use filtration devices, pills (generally Iodine or Chlorine based), ultra violet (UV) lights. I have used the pills numerous times, especially whilst soldiering but also backpacking in the past. A number of recent reviews have selected either the Katadyn Micropure MP1& Potable Aqua as being two very good brands. All these pills need time to act, longer to remove Crytosporidium than Giardia but certainly 30 minutes.  Boiling water or using a UV device requires kit but might be suitable for vehicle-based expedition.

Our favoured option would be filtration. For vehicle based expeditions who have the room on board, it’s difficult to beat the Lifesavers 20L Jerrycan system. The can is robust.  The Starter Pack comes with 5 filters and a small shower attachment too.

For those individuals in countries where the tap water is not potable, the Pure Hydration’s Aquapure Traveller Bottle is a winner. It’s our top seller to journalists, NGOs and extremely popular with gap year young travellers, students and those backpacking overseas.

I have drunk from the Mekong River and recently didn’t buy any bottled water when travelling in both India and Myanmar – I just drank the tap water via the Aquapure Water Filtration Bottle. It never gives untreated water, with a capacity to filter up to 350 litres of dirty pond, puddle or river water and many more litres if it is slightly treated tap water from say Bolivia or Indonesia.

Lastly, by using the bottle, it stops could prevent the use of up to 700 single use plastic bottles from ending up in landfill, discarded on the streets or worse, in our oceans.     

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