A reader writes:
This summer, my wife and I wish to travel and stay for a month or so to San Miguel or Guanajuato with our children ages 4 and 1 (right around 12-13 months). Our itinerary will be light: just stay in a city and get to know it intimately. However, we’re concerned about issues like water: brushing teeth, when washing food, etc, especially with our younger child. Wondering if there’s a risk of him becoming ill even if we use bottled water as much as possible. What can you tell us about water differences and friends of yours with young children who have decamped in Mexico for extended periods of time?
I have been known to brush my teeth with Mexican tap water, but then again I have spent the last 37 years developing a significant immunity to Mexican germs. Drinking water is easy to come by and our recommendations have relaxed significantly in the past ten years. For example, if you order a glass of water in a restaurant you can expect to get drinking water, and, as a general rule, drink ice can be trusted. I also eat salads in restaurants, which used to be a no-no, due to vegetables being washed in tap water. If you have a weak stomach, you might want to be more careful, though.
Drinking water is easy to come by in Mexico. It comes in big blue jugs, or garrafons. You pay a deposit for your first bottle (around 50 pesos) and then can refill for about 20 pesos. You can buy these at tiendas, but you should be able to find someone who will deliver to your rental. I use this water for drinking, washing vegetables, and rinsing dishes. You could also just add a drop of Clorox to tap water when rinsing.
It’s almost inevitable that you and your kids will get sick at some point, but don’t panic–that’s just part of the drill. As you spend more time in Mexico, your whole family will eventually develop a better tolerance. All in all Mexico is a great place for traveling with kids. If you do get sick, you can find good healthcare in the state of Guanajuato. My main advice would be: don’t fret. The joys of Mexico more than make up for the inconveniences.