When most Americans take international vacations or study abroad, they go to nations that are generally developed, with public electricity, sewage, transportation, and more. Trips to developed nations offer the comforts that Americans are used to, but trips to developing nations often have an extra element of adventure that can make the trip unforgettable. If you plan to travel to a nation that’s not quite as developed as the US, here are some tips for you:
You’ll probably spend time without electricity. Unlike the US, where we have electricity with almost no breaks except for storms, many developing nations’ governments can’t afford to keep the electricity on all the time. Sometimes the power outages will be announced, but other times, they’ll appear out of nowhere and last for upwards of 24 hours. Before you leave for your trip, you’ll want to invest in a water purifier, a power bank, and charging cables.
You’ll have to watch where you drink water. Outside the US, tap water isn’t usually safe to drink, and sometime isn’t even safe to bathe in. Always buy your water, and you may want to wipe down the outside so you don’t imbibe any bacteria that live in or on the bottle.
The police and public transportation will not be nearly as organized as they are in the US. We Americans take a lot of pride in the state of our police force and the data that make our roads, buses, and subways so efficient and reliable. However, in nations that are still developing, these systems won’t be well established. The police are easily bribed and won’t be available to provide directions the way US police usually can. You’ll likely need to figure out where to get information and navigate your destination.
The poverty will be even more heartbreaking. In the US, we tend to take some solace in the fact that our governments and nonprofits offer aid to those in need. However, where the government can barely keep the lights on and the roads repaired, there’s little if anything the government can do for people with physical, cognitive, or mental disabilities, so the beggars have nowhere to go at all. Ask some local people or your tour guide about the social protocol for helping these people, but just know that the hopelessness for those in poverty will strike you in whole new ways.
The food will probably be really carb-heavy. At some point, calories are calories, and in nations where the currency isn’t very strong, the food has to supply immediate energy. Many of the meals will probably be heavily rice- or grain-based since those foods are inexpensive and abundant. If you’re trying to watch your weight while you’re in a developing nation, you’ll have to do some serious running.
People will smell more “natural.” One of the first signs that a nation has turned the corner towards developing is a sharp increase in the amount of soap and other personal hygiene products. But until then, most households don’t spend a lot of their money on soaps and deodorants, especially near the equator where people spend most of their time sweating anyways.
You’ll grow immensely in experience and personal knowledge when you travel to a developing nation, but you need to be prepared for the vast differences between the life of luxury you enjoy the US and the humble lifestyles of those who live in developing nations.