The year I graduated from college, I was accepted into a program to teach English on a small Pacific atoll without running water or electricity. I hadn’t traveled much, so I had a long list of things to buy: luggage, footwear, clothing, snorkeling gear, a solar charger, a headlamp.
The most daunting item on the list was a water filter. I remember standing in an outdoor-gear store with my mom, overwhelmed as the salesperson explained the difference between disinfection and purification, which types of disease-causing microbes could get through which types of filters, and the benefits of gravity-fed systems versus pumps. I eventually walked away $150 poorer but satisfied that I was carrying a filter that would last for a lifetime of globe-trotting adventure.