Getting sick when traveling is an awful experience. Being exposed to new environments, foods and bacteria can really devastate a trip. While there are foods that one should avoid or use caution when eating, a common question when traveling is “can I drink the tap water”? In this video/post, we’re going to explore safe drinking water when traveling!

I recently saw a useful infographic on where you can find reliable and safe drinking water. While the graphic shows whether a country has reliably safe public drinking water, there can be nuances within certain countries. For example, Costa Rica is listed as having unsafe public drinking water, but it depends on where you are. Areas like Arenal are known to have extremely clean tap water. While areas in remote and coastal areas tend to have less clean water.

What are my options for clean drinking water?

When traveling in an area without safe tap water, you have three basic options:

1. Buy bottled water:

This is generally the easiest option. Luckily, in places where tap water is unsafe, the cost of bottled water is generally cheap. For example, when I traveled through Vietnam and Cambodia, you often buy a large bottle that would last the entire day for less than $1 (US dollar).

2. Filter or purify your own water:

There are a couple of devices that directly disinfect or filter your water. I personally have a Steripen, which I’ve used on several occasions. I’ve also seen people use devices like LifeStraws and filtration bottles, which seem to work well.

3. Boil water:

This isn’t often a convenient option! Though if it’s your only available option, you’ll want to boil water for one minute to make it safe. If you’re in higher altitudes, then you may want to boil for three minutes as an extra precaution.

Final thoughts

While I’m conscious of the environmental impact of buying bottled water, I find it to be the most convenient option. The thought of taking unsafe water and purifying it seems inherently more risky and prone to contamination. Also, I just prefer not having to carry another item on my trip if I can avoid it!

Do you have any tips or experiences from your travels? If so, please share them below in the comment section.

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