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Travel Tips for visiting the Dominican Republic: What can I Drink?

What Can I Drink?
My “What can I drink Rule” for international travel is: only drink bottled beverages and make sure they are opened for the first time in front of you. This means any drink has to be served in a bottle that has not been opened prior to its delivery. In some situations this is a difficult rule to follow, but if you are as anal as I was when I first started traveling to the Dominican Republic you will be fine telling them to bring you a new bottle of coke, water, or whatever that is not opened. (Quiero una botella nueva. Por favor no lo abres.) Simple.

In reality my rule for drinking is way too rigid for most people visiting the Dominican Republic because even Dominicans do not drink any water that is not bottled. They get the water out of 5 gallon containers. You will never see the water containers at first. As a result, I suggest you just ask them if the water is from a bottle. Don't be shy about asking. They wont get offended. Remember, this vacation is somewhere exotic. Your body is probably used to vacations in less exotic locations, so remembering to ask whether you can drink the water can be tough at times. Dominicans also typically use bagged ice because the local water supply is not even safe for Dominicans to drink. Beverages like soft drinks are usually given to you in the bottle and they open the bottle in front of you.

One area I am kind of up in the air on is when you order a drink in a bar. Bars will give you whatever drink you ask for and the issue I have is the Ice. Many of them take the ice for your cup out of the same cooler they store all of the drinks they are chilling. Where I come from this is a major NO NO! The problem in the DR is you will rarely see where the ice is stored at a bar. I suggest if you are at a lower end type of place to either order the drink without ice or ask them to see the ice. It is simple enough to walk back and see where the ice is stored. If it is just ice for cups go for it. If it has bottles of beer or coke in it then skip the ice. In my opinion, a warm beverage is better than risking a month of the “Dominican Trotts.”

As a brief side note, I should add that a friend of mine believes it is alright to eat unknown ice in a beverage as long as the beverage is strongly laced with alcohol. If you have a high enough alcohol content, according to his reasoning, there is no possibility any bugs can live in the drink. I guess you can make the judgment on your own.

With that said, after living in the Dominican Republic for 4 years I now take the drink with whatever ice they have in the cup. I also take ice out of the ice chest with drink to put in my drinks to chill my beverages. My justification is that I have already been through close to two months of the “Dominican Trotts.” I guess you will have to decide if you want to risk it…

The area where drinking things becomes a little touchy are when you order a fresh juice and it has been made ahead of time. In my case I will take fresh juice when it has been made at a restaurant. I will not drink fresh juice from any street vendor.

Also, remember when you brush your teeth you should use bottled water. I have not heard of anyone getting sick from brushing their teeth in the Dominican Republic… but I have had a case of the “Dominican Trotts” and it sucks really bad, so do what you need to do not to get them while you are on vacation.

In the next article I will discuss
Safety in the Dominican Republic, which is equally as important as what you eat and drink.
In my book I write in detail about what you should and should not eat and drink when you visit the Dominican Republic. The beautiful island and its amazing fruits, vegetables, and other foods make it difficult to determine what is safe and what will make you run for the hills. Buy a copy of my Book Today so you are protected on your next vacation!

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Best Wishes,
Ross Weber
www.MovingtoDR.com - Dominican Republic
Ross@MovingtoDr.com