So I'm trying to go to Chile in May. I understand that travelling to any foreign place runs the risk of picking up bacteria and virii the body has no immunity to. What is the likelyhood that I'll be able to spend 2 weeks in Chile without eating/drinking/breathing something that will have me crouched at a toilet for the night? I've been to a few foreign countries without this happening but have heard some pretty terrible stories from friends who thought they'd been pretty careful. Anyone who's been to Chile could really help me out here.
I have not been to Chili (specifically), but - like anywhere else in the world - some basic common sense will go a long way to keeping you healthy.
1. If you aren't already, consider taking a multi-vitamin supplement daily, starting before you leave on your trip. This simple action will help maintain, and possibly boost, your immunity. Exercising on a regular basis (again, before leaving) will also be a benefit your immune system. Bacteria and viruses have a harder time making themselves at home in a healthy body.
2. Put your common sense to work when deciding where and what to eat/drink. Most problems arise from eating tainted food. Street carts selling foods, especially those containing meat or fish, can cause problems. It doesn't mean you can't eat what the residents eat - just be choosy about it. The same goes for the water in certain areas. If you are unsure if the water from the tap is safe - use bottled.
3. Research which vaccinations and other treatments (ie: anti-malarials) are appropriate for the areas you plan to visit. Here is the link for the CDC - Temperate South America page:
Temperate South America
I never had any of these type of problems when I traveled in South America, and even though I never went to Chile I can't imagine that type of thing happening there either.
Food in Argentina and Uruguay is very much like the food I get at home in Australia, so I can't see why Chile would be any different. I also went to Colombia where the food is a little different and still I had no problems.
Just be careful with what you eat and drink. I don't think you'll have any major problems over there.
BTW, all I used in South America was the occasional Berocca tablet to cure a hangover or severe lack of sleep and still managed to keep a 100% health bill. It's not impossible, but you must watch what you eat.
Chile, in particular, is the most industrialized nation in South America. Water is pretty safe, food preparation is as well. That said, I can't say no to the occassional road-side treat. Assunming you are going to eat and drink water during the trip, and assuming you are going to get a bit of travelers diarreah because everyone does no matter where you go in the world, the following indespensable advice came from my wonderful travel nurse.
On the first sign of diarreah or upset stomach, take some PeptoBismol. It comes in handy travel tablets, pack some.
If that doesn't clear it up within a few hours, take the following: an Imodium (or a generic) and a Cipro pill. You'll need to ask your doctor to perscribe some Cipro tablets, just four or five. You only take one, and it clears up the nastiest food-borne bug.
There are a few basic things you should keep in mind. It can't hurt to purify all drinking water (MicroPure doesn't taste too bad) or buy bottled water (it's cheap enough).
Also, adhere to the addage of if it's not boiled or baked or cooked thoroughly, don't eat it. And one of my favorite guides to eating at restaurants is to gague the crowd. If the restaurant is busy, it tells you two things: the food is moving and probably isn't sitting around. And if the crowd is made up of locals, it's likely they havent' gotten sick at that restaurant before so they return for more - a good sign for you to eat there.
Following these bits of advice myself, I spent 11 months in South America eating local food in very local markets and came home with Cipro tablets. That, in itself, should say something.
Avoid Eiscraeme and Icecubes in drinks,that is or can be the reason for "montezumas Revange"!!
Don't lick the streets and you'll more than likely be A-okay.