How to deal with water while traveling in India:
1) Only drink bottled water.
Tap water in India is contaminated with pollutants and amoebas. I highly suggest drinking only bottled mineral water. The only brands I recommend are Bisleri, Kinley & Aquafina.
2) Stay well hydrated.
India is typically hot and dry. Drink at least 2 liters (1/2 gallon) per day to stay healthy and strong.
3) If you’re trekking, bring a water filter.
In rare cases where bottled water isn’t available such as while trekking, you’ll need a Katadyn Pocket Water Filter, steriPEN or a LifeStraw so that you can get safe water from flowing rivers. Boil it if possible, and you can add Iodine tablets to be extra safe.
4) Coconut water is amazing.
Fresh coconuts are extremely good at hydrating you, boosting your electrolytes and making an upset stomach, happy. Although, don’t drink coconut water unless you’re satisfied with cleanliness of both the straw and knife that the vendor is using.
5) Chai is great in the morning.
Chai tea is a flavorful popular beverage that is good for digestion, as it is drank hot with spices like ginger and cardamom. Indians loves drinking their chai, and you can literally find a chai-walla (tea-stall) at every other street corner.
In India Chai is served with milk and sugar. If you are lactose intolerant or avoiding sugar, you will have to do a special order asking to exclude these.
6) Avoid ice in drinks.
I advise you to not have any drinks with ice in it, as you cannot verify the quality of water used in making the ice.
7) Soft drinks, or soda are great on a hot day.
Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, Thums Up and other local brands are easily available everywhere, even at roadside kiosks in remote places in the Himalayas.
8) Electrolytes are a must.
If you follow the eating and drinking guidelines, you will do just fine. But in case you do get sick, vomiting, diarrhea and sweating can all upset your water balance. Electrolytes are a must for staying hydrated, be sure to carry these with you.
9) Don’t brush your teeth with tap water.
As annoying as it may seem, I advise you to only brush your teeth with bottled water.
10) Shower with care.
Don’t open your mouth or eyes in the shower. If you’re particular about your hair like I am, wash your hair with bottled water. At-least the final rinse.
11) Bathe in holy rivers at your own risk.
Taking a dip in the Ganges can be a magical experience but again, close your mouth when underwater.
12) Check the seals on bottled water.
An old scam in India consists of refilling old bottles with tap water and resealing them. Buy bottled water only from actual shops (with bricks and walls), and not street hawkers.
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