What You Need to Know about Water Safety when Travelling

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It’s a simple thing. It can be tasteless or fun and it’s absolutely vital. Unfortunately, it can also be lethal to your travel or holiday plans. I’m talking water safety here. Hands up, who has suffered from water borne diseases, spent hours on the toilet and held their hurting tummy? And it’s so easy to avoid as well! Let’s make those stupid bacteria stay where they belong and get splashing!

What You Need to Know about Water Safety when Travelling

Proper Hydration

You are basking in the sun, hiking all day long or just stroll from one site to the next. Despite this being just amazing, it is also exhausting in a way and your body needs energy but I don’t have to tell you that, you have probably already started eating your way through local cuisines. But what about the drinks? And I don’t mean cocktails and sangria. But even so, at the end of the day you will be dehydrated and fighting with headaches if you forgot to drink your fair share of non-alcoholic liquid. If active and especially in warm weather, you must not drink less than 3 litres and never less than 1.5 litres any given day ever. During Australian summers, the rule is to drink 1 litre or each hour outside! So forget about buying the half litre bottles and switch to 2 litre ones. This way you can keep track much better.

Tap Water

Now you want to have a sip but either don’t want to waste time or save money and opt for the tap. One word of caution, you must ALWAYS check if your country of destination is safe when it comes to tap water. For instance, EU countries must adhere to regular water testings and regulations, which, however, doesn’t mean each and every tap has excellent quality. While the water in Sweden is both delicious and clean, for Italy you sometimes get warnings to not even accept ice cubes. Or brush your teeth with tap water. Public taps are another threat as cases have appeared where cleaning personnel did not change wipes appropriately or there might have been legionella collecting in not often used pipes. Better stick to highly frequented and labelled drinking fountains (but stay away from the water containers).

Public Baths

Swimming in the ocean is nice and all but if you are squeamish like me or there simply is no ocean or lake nearby, a swimming pool will certainly do. And it is no secret that certain scoundrels relieve themselves, do not shower in advance, etc. If you shrug your shoulders (a-ha, it was you!), then you should know that this could lead to, for instance, giardia, which is found all over the world, not only in developing countries. Either you don’t show symptoms or you suffer from diarrhea and abdominal pain and if untreated you could even suffer for up to a year! So keep a watch over the kids that are squinting their eyes!

Streams, Springs, Lakes, Ponds, etc

But not only man made and “man infested” waters are prone to germs and parasites, natural springs and streams can be just as bad. Even though water is filtered through rocks, it could still contain germs. You never know what animal just went through it and had a dump. Why not get yourself a bottle with a filter or one of those soluble purifiers to be able to refill on the go? It’s better than getting a sunstroke from not drinking at all.


Fancy a swim? Before you head into the waves check for safety. For Australia that mostly is to look for shark and box jelly fish spottings. But even in shark-free coasts, such as in Denmark, there is a reason for having the typical blue flags. The blue beach flags are hoisted when the beach is safe to use, i.e. the water is clean, there are no high bacterial levels, no storms etc. But luckily, you don’t necessarily have to walk to the beach to find out. Look online for beach watches or watchcasts or ask at your accommodation.

Tell me: Were you aware of all these dangers in connection to water?

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/

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It had to happen, after ditching the 9-5 for a prolonged break, Annemarie's wokaholic tendencies led her to start a daily blog about her adventures. Realising how much travel has helped rebuild her confidence and and general #GirlBoss-iness, Travel on the Brain released a book about her adventures in Down Under and New Zealand and creates quirky video series focusing on story telling in destinations around the globe.
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  1. Reply

    Hello from India,
    Very useful article, Annemarie!
    It is also important to understand that a significant number of diseases are water-borne, especially in developing countries. One can go an extra mile (literally and figuratively), just by ensuring that one’s drinking-water comes from clean sources.

    1. Hi Divya! Thank you, I am glad it could be of help. I see so many people underestimating the power of water in so many ways. Some neevr drink enough, others drink wherever. I think it’s just plain naive. I think a lot of people know to only drink bottled water in developed countries and even brush their teeth with it, but with (more) developed countries, people just assume general safety. This could lead to a bad awakening and a trip cut short.
      Greetings from Germany.

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