From leaky taps in Queens to crusty ladles in the Sinai, this question is largely answered by chance.

You may have heard that your health is at risk every time you open your mouth, but the planet is suffering too. Drinkers of bottled water worldwide contribute to the looming ecological catastrophe in the form of discarded PET bottles.


Photo by Candice_Lee

To protect myself, my tried and true method of avoiding bacterial invasion is to gulp down a glass of local tap water immediately upon arriving in a strange land.

Insane? Perhaps, but it introduces my refined euro-belly to the various little organisms that will, inevitably, find their way indoors. Better still, it all happens in the comfort of my three-day hotel buffer where a relatively clean toilet is close at hand.

In ten years of travel, drinking well water in Egypt and brewing tea from the Mekong’s waters, this method has never once failed me.

After this inoculation, I am comfortable ordering the salad and crunching the ice cubes at the bottom of my glass of single malt.

However, there’s the rest of the planet to consider and here’s an alternative.

The MIOX purifier from MSR is a tiny, incredibly reliable and dead simple little gadget that will guarantee you fresh drinking and cooking water for the duration of your traveling life.

It works by creating a highly acidic brine of mixed oxidants using local water and salt, which is then dumped into the water you wish to treat.

Put a thimbleful of water in the cap, shake it up, open the cap, press the button and voila! One shot from the MIOX spells death to 99.9% of all bad guys, even the much-maligned Cryptosporidium.

Given the staggering environmental impact store-bought PET bottles have, especially in less developed countries, a MIOX purifier paired with a nice water bottle like the snazzy Black Panther aluminum bottle ($29.99) from Swiss manufacturer SIGG, can turn your mountain of refuse into a molehill.

Plus, you don’t get Delhi belly – Traveler’s Diarrhea. Everyone wins.

Community Connection

Want an in-depth review of various water purification options? Check out Plastic or Pills? Choosing an option for treating your water.