Oh, the water-related bug stories I could tell of my travels!
Safe water is one of my top priorities when it comes to kids on the move...
For parents of children who live in developed countries, it's sometimes easy to take the availability of clean, healthy drinking water for granted. Often when travelling internationally, however, we may find ourselves in countries where clean drinking water isn't readily available. Even in developed countries, there may still be many rural and remote areas where clean water is not easily available. If we're travelling with kids, knowing how potable (drinkable) water can be accessed is important.
In nearly all countries, bottled water will be available for sale, particularly if local tap water is considered unsafe for consumption. Most bottled water is sterilised, using technologies such as ozonation, UV-disinfection, and reverse osmosis.
While bottled water is safe for consumption in terms of nasty bugs and dirt, it carries with it the big problem of the plastic waste it generates, and more recently concerns about the long term effects of drinking from plastics - particularly if they have been heated by the sun. After the water has been drunk, bottles are usually thrown away, as most developing countries have minimal recycling facilities available. The plastic mountain generated by water bottles is overwhelming many countries' waste systems.
ALTERNATIVES TO BOTTLED WATER
Water Filters – Filtering water while travelling is a little different to filtering water at home. Common home filters (such as “Brita” jugs) are impractical due to their size, and also do not remove the pathogens found in untreated water in developing countries. Special water filters are available for travelling, which can be used to reduce our consumption of bottled water, or possibly to replace it altogether. They're also the only option when travelling in very remote outdoor areas.
The best (and really only) filters to consider for travel in developing countries, are those that eliminate not just dirt, and other visible contaminants, but also the tiny bacteria and viruses that can cause so many health problems.
Many water filters/purifiers are available on the market, but only a very small number of these genuinely remove tiny pathogens. They are usually more expensive than basic filtration systems, but can provide peace of mind - especially when ensuring clean water is always available for our kids.
When purchasing a filter/purification system, always check first what it actually filters out. And if you're travelling with children to a developing country, always confirm that the system truly removes viruses, and not just bacteria/protozoa.
EXAMPLES OF PORTABLE WATER PURIFICATION BOTTLES:
~ LIFESAVER Water Filter Bottles
LIFESAVER Bottles were developed to be highly portable, and also to filter out both bacteria and viruses.
They come in three sizes, suitable to produce clean water for between one to four people.
LIFESAVER bottles don't require any external power, or the addition of chemicals such as iodine or chlorine, making them functional in nearly all situations.
~ The GRAYL Legend/Quest Water Filtration Cup (with Travel Purifier)
GRAYL produce a compact bottle filtration system. The bottle is paired with one of three different types of filter cartridges designed for either “Urban”, “Outdoor”, or “International” Travel. Any of the cartridges fits the main bottle, although it's important to note that the only filter cartridge in the range that is guaranteed to filter out viruses (as well as bacteria), is the orange “Travel” purifier.
** Healthy Kids Travel has no affiliation with these products.
I am sure there must be other interesting ideas around this topic - feel free to post below any tips you may have!
Happy, Healthy Travels!