My Tips for Traveling to South America

1. Do not refuse to take diarrhea medication. Diarrhea can be a serious threat to your travel enjoyment, let alone your health. I can attest to this.

2. For mosquitoes: Huile de carapa in French or Andiroba in Portuguese. It works brilliantly for both preventing and healing mosquito bites, which can give you malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and now chikungunya. It smells terrible, but it’s worth the peace of mind knowing you have a solid defense against the little vampires.

3. If you see a public toilet, use it, even if you don’t have to go. If it’s free, tant mieux (all the better). You will eventually have to make a pit stop, so don’t take those toilets for granted when you see them.

4. Embrace the culture. Music, dance, food, art, lifestyle (siestas!). “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This has never been so true, especially when you are trying to experience the most of a place.

5. Drink fruit juice! It contains loads of vitamin C which you will need to battle various germs from traveler’s diarrhea to malaria. Tip: In order to avoid diarrhea from the juice itself, mix 1 part juice with 1 part water.

6. You will not see jaguars and tarantulas everywhere, like you think you will.

7. Drink more water than you think you need.

8. Take it easy when going on a hike. The jungle air is so thick sometimes, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air rivals the quantity of oxygen, making it very difficult to breathe.

9. Toe worms and eggs—take them out!

10. Do NOT touch the trees! You never know what may be camouflaged against that bark—snakes, spiders, acidic sap that can burn a hole in your skin (yes, this exists).

11. Taking showers is IMPORTANT. Being smelly (smelling like a human), attracts lots of mosquitoes. Showering daily (or twice daily) is necessary to wash off not only sweat, but whatever microscopic bacteria linger on your skin that can make you sick.

To the ends of the earth, would you follow me?
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see.
– “Ends of the Earth,” Lord Huron


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