Unsafe food and water make more people sick than anything else when they travel. Traveler’s diarrhea,which can also include vomiting, fever and dehydration, can ruin a trip quickly. The most common question I get in the travel clinic is, “Can I drink the water there?”
CanIdrinkthewater.org is a web site (which is also available as an iPhone app) that quickly answers that question no matter where you are traveling.
If you can’t drink the tap water, plan ahead to protect yourself. Stay hydrated with bottled water. Make your own ice cubes with bottled water. If you have access to a freezer you can bring a small flexible ice cube tray with you. It may make sense for you to bring a SteriPen to sterilize the water yourself. Wash produce yourself with clean water.
If you can’t drink the water in a country, it also means you can’t eat foods washed in that water. Avoid salads and fruits that cannot be peeled by you. Coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, alcoholic drinks and bottled water are safe but not ice cubes or crushed ice. So, no blender drinks with those little umbrellas. Don’t brush your teeth with the tap water. Tie a hair scrunchie around the faucet to remind yourself not to automatically drink from it or brush your teeth in it. Keep your mouth shut in the shower.
Always use common sense. If a place doesn’t look clean, no matter where it is, play it safe and go elsewhere if you can.
Otherwise remember boil it, cook it thoroughly, peel it or forget it.