A GUIDE ON HOW TO TRAVEL WELL IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
When someone asks you if you would like to travel with them to a developing country do automatically recoil at the thought it and say “No!”? Its ok if you do, many folks do not like the idea of traveling to countries that do not offer wifi everywhere and especially places where you cannot flush toilet paper.
For me, developing countries are my main destinations as they often more of an opportunity for long term travel than places like Australia, Europe, New Zealand, Hawaii etc. I find that I often stick to South American, South East Asia, and Pacific Island countries to get more bang for my buck.
If you are new to the realm of vacationing in a developing country the biggest piece of advice I have for you is this; Keep an open mind and always see the beauty.
Zoe Smith from BootsnAll said it perfectly, “Traveling in some of the world’s poorest countries is as challenging as it is rewarding, and planning your trip can be a balancing act: how to stay safe but still embrace the unknown; how to promote sustainable tourism when faced with heart-wrenching poverty; how to adopt local customs but maintain both your dignity and sanity; how not to end up with an extortionately-priced Persian carpet strapped to the back of your backpack.
HOW TO TRAVEL WELL IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Overcoming The Bathroom Differences
This by far is one of the most common differences you will first notice when traveling to a developing country. I have had to bring a bucket of water with me to poor into the back part and then pull a string to make it flush. Another time I had to go in a hole in the ground that was concealed with palm leaves. But my favorite experience was going in just a bucket that you had to dispose of yourself…that was fun!
These are all fairly extreme cases. The most common difference you will encounter is having to put your toilet paper in the trash can. Everywhere in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador and beyond you have to do that because they do not have septic systems.
Lets keep in mind that other than the toilet, you also have to consider the shower situation. I have been pretty lucky in this department and the worst shower I had was just using a water hose that was help high to wash myself. It was a little chilly but the water pressure was great so over all it was a decent shower!
Simply put, go ahead and prepare yourself for alternative ways to use a bathroom and if you expect that difference and stay open minded, you will be fine!
Communication and the Lack There Of
It wouldn’t be an adventure without having a communication barrier. Often times, the locals will not speak English and you will be expected to know Spanish since you are, more than likely, the educated one. To me just have never lived until you are lost in a foreign city and are trying to get directions from someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. You find yourself in a situation where you cannot use a maps app, call a cab, or buy a map so a little bit of panic will sweep over you but in the end you realize that it was a good experience. It made you think about the situation and solve it all on your own, with no technology whatsoever!
Aside from the bathrooms shoving you into a shell shock, the extreme difference in wealth is staggering. Finding that many of the homes have mud floors or are made out of trash, none of the roads are paved, trash and debris is EVERYWHERE and children walking around in rags barefoot begging for food and money.
It is heartbreaking and you will want to give all your money to that child and their family, but do not. Spend your money wisely. Giving like this only encourages the begging and further sets back the parents getting a real job.
“A compromise can be made by donating old clothes, books or appliances to locals to either use or sell (last trip, I took several pairs of shoes to a street tailor to repair and sell on and donated my sleeping bag to a homeless couple), but be especially wary of giving anything to kids – even dishing out sweets or pens can sometimes encourage begging habits that are hard to break.” BootsNAll
AFTER READING THIS YOU MAY BE ASKING YOURSELF WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO TRAVEL TO A 3RD WORLD COUNTRY, BUT IF YOU CAN GET OVER THESE THREE TOPICS YOU CAN TRAVEL WELL IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
I hope reading this will help you travel well in developing countries and help you enjoy yourself because it truly is worth the compromise to see the beauty these countries are hiding.
UNITED MILITARY TRAVEL