Going to a Travel Clinic is the most beneficial way to prepare for an international trip. Travel Clinics should have up-to-date information for all of the countries you plan on visiting and plenty of country-specific medicinal recommendations. Call ahead of time to schedule an appointment and let them know which countries you'll be visiting; some vaccines or medications may not be available in smaller/rural clinics and need to be special ordered.
The vaccinations you will most likely need are the following:
- Yellow Fever- Important: keep proof that you have gotten the Yellow Fever vaccination, as some countries ask to see this at the border
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Typhoid Fever
- Rabies (ask your doctor)
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis
- Measles, mumps, rubella
Traveler’s insurance is essential when traveling abroad; you never know when something unfortunate could happen, and potentially cost you thousands of dollars, so it is best to be prepared. After many hours of diligent research, we've determined that the best traveler's insurance for adventures similar to ours is World Nomads Travel Insurance.
Recommended medications vary from country to country. Here are the three medications we brought with us to Central / South America.
- Malaria pills: There are three types of malaria pills and the doses vary depending on the type. Ask your doctor for a personal recommendation because all the malaria pills have different side effects (for example, Lariam is said to cause night terrors in some people).
- Ciprofloxacin: Our holy grail. It’s an anti-diarrhea mediation that works almost immediately. Bring a few extra doses, as we ate nearly everything we could get our hands on (street food and all) and got sick about four times over the four months. At the first sign of upset stomach / gas, we quickly popped a Cipro pill; it worked wonders.
- Altitude sickness: Holy cow, changing altitudes can really take a toll on one's body. While we didn't really take the altitude pills due to the fact that we were biking and slowly being acclimated to elevation changes, we would recommend them to those of you flying from spot to spot in South America.
Both of us got sick about four separate times during our travels resulting in pretty abrupt stops to our bike trip. Here were a few home remedies that we tried on the road:
- Ginger: a natural remedy for upset stomachs. You can try using ginger 'capsules', candies, or just try cooking with it.
- Garlic: garlic is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic that is cheap and can be found pretty much everywhere. There were periods of the trip when we ate garlic pretty regularly in order to prevent illness.
- Rehydration / salt-replenishment drinks: if you find yourself sick despite all of your precautions, try finding a rehydration or salt-replenishment drink at a nearby pharmacy. Each country may have its own Pedialyte-esque equivalent. After Adam had a night of vomiting and diaharrea, taking pedialyte the next day led to a quick recovery.
- Tequilla: after kayaking for a few hours in a somewhat dirty Ecuadorian river (and unintentionally swallowing way too much water), our guide asked us, "Do you want to know the best way to kill stomach bacteria..? --Tequilla. Go home and take a shot or two." Because we lack scientific evidence to prove anything, do as you'd like with this information.
If you've got any health questions, feel free to post in the forum or send us an email.