A couple of days ago I got a call from a friend. She knows that I love to travel and have dragged my children all over Europe a few parts of Africa and the USA in the belief that travel broadens the mind. (I’m still convinced it does). We’ve been to some weird and wonderful places, so I wasn’t really surprised that she asked me for advice on what she’d need to take with her on her first major foreign trip. What was surprising was my answer. I enjoy ancient and historic places, but I’m no Indiana Jones. I like luxury travel, from suites on cruise ships to four and five star hotels, my progress tends to be slow and stately. I am not into camping (though I admire those who are), so she was surprised when I told her that the first thing she needed was a water sterilizer.
Now I could tell you what happened to me in Nairobi, or on a visit to the supposedly idyllic island of Mauritius. I could add the details of my illness in Cairo, where I saw the pyramids and very little else due to spending most of my visit in the bathroom, and you probably wouldn’t be too surprised.
If I add that second worst problem I’ve had was when traveling in a large comfortable suite on a very exclusive cruise ship, and the worst of all was when visiting Paris, then perhaps you’ll get my point. It doesn’t seem to matter how luxurious your surroundings are, you can’t trust the water. Maybe I have a delicate stomach, but it seems like I’ve been sick everywhere.
So you may be asking yourself, why am I stupid enough to drink the water when I don’t trust it? Well, it did take me a while to understand the problem. After my visit to Nairobi I looked around for a reason, but in truth I couldn’t recall every drinking any water that hadn’t come from a bottle. What I discovered is that in some countries bottled water sold to tourists is a purely money making exercise. It comes out of the tap. And that’s not all. In Egypt I stayed in a beautiful hotel and was assured the bottled water was fine. It was, but the ice in my drink came from tap water. I was ill, but my son, then four, had a really rough time.
So for me, a way to sterilize water when travelling is now not an option, it’s a necessity, and the best thing I’ve seen is the SteriPEN. There are so many different versions, it’s relatively simple to use a sports bottle, fill with tap water and then use the SteriPEN to remove all the harmful bacteria, from salmonella to polio, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis as well as parasites like cryptosporidium. One bottle for one child. It takes only a few seconds and all you do is push a button. There are solar powered versions or some with batteries, and because the SteriPEN is shaped like a pen, it’s easy to carry and use whenever you feel the need. Scientific research has shown that the SteriPEN destroys more than 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% protozoa and because it’s really fast, much faster than chemicals, even children have the patience to wait while you use it.
I’ve missed some amazing things due to what is euphemistically know as ‘travellers tummy’; sunset over the pyramids, the view of Gibraltar from the sea and The Temple of Diana at Ephesus come immediately to mind. My second honeymoon went badly (there’s nothing romantic about constant trips to the bathroom) and my children say they will never ever ever go to France again they were so ill there. But all that is behind me now.
Have SteriPen, will travel. Where will you go?