Latin America Travel & Tour Information
Drinking lots of purified water is important to ensuring a healthy vacation. Tap water in most Latin American countries cannot be consumed and care must be taken in ensuring fruit, vegetables and even ice are not contaminated with dirty water. Drinking regularly is important especially in the hotter climates and bottled water is usually readily available and cheap.
There have been incidents of malaria in low level tropical areas of Latin America and you should consult your doctor weather anti-malarial drugs should be taken for the areas you are traveling. In any case prevention of mosquito bites must be taken and this is achieved by wearing clothes that cover most parts of the body and to apply bug repellent liberally and regularly.
The most dramatic effect of altitude sickness may occur at altitudes of over 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). These altitudes are usually found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and parts of the Andes that run through Argentina and Chile. At altitude the body can experience a lack of oxygen causing shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea and possible insomnia. To lessen the effects, when you reach your high altitude destination rest for 24hrs, consume a lot of water, eat less and reframe from drinking alcohol for a day or two.
Toilets are not always as readily available as what you may be used to in your own country, so take advantage of places where they are such as museums and restaurants. In many cases toilet paper will not be provided so it is best not to be caught short and carry your own. Water to wash hands is not always available so carrying antiseptic hand gel is a good idea. Trash cans are provided in all toilets for the disposal of toilet paper because the sewage systems in Latin America cannot cope with it.
Medication and Medical Advice
Be advised to bring your own prescribed medicines, and enough to last the duration of your journey as it may not be obtainable in the areas you are traveling. If traveling with large quantities of prescribed medicine to avoid problems with local authorities has your doctor write a signed declaration that you will need this amount. Bringing a medical kit on your trip is not a bad idea, and if worried about the cleanliness of medical facilities it is an idea to have your kit equipped with your own syringes.
Having a case of diarrhea is normal for those not used to Latin American environments and it is usually a result of your body reacting to a change in food, water, climate and altitude variations. Certain precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of incurring diarrhea. Although tasting the local cuisine is part of the experience of travel, take care not eat uncooked meat, seafood or vegetables and only eat fruit that you peel yourself. Washing your hands regularly or using antiseptic hand gel especially before eating will help prevent infection and drinking only sealed bottle water and being cautious of ice in drinks is the rule in many Latin American countries.If diarrhea occurs then make sure you keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and perhaps taking with you re-hydration satchels which help keep up salt and sugar levels in your body. Heavy meals should be avoided and the rule-of-thumb is to eat light bland food like crackers or rice. There are anti-diarrhea drugs that help slow down visits to the bathroom but do not cure diarrhea; it is best not use these drugs and let the ailment take its cause unless you are on a long travel day. If it continues for more than two days or you are seeing blood or mucus in your stools then it is advisable to see a medical professional.