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5 First World Comforts I Miss While Traveling

2011 September 13
Saigon Vietnam

Orderly traffic? HAH! Saigon, Vietnam.

Travel is awesome but it’s not always rainbows and unicorns.

The majority of us who can afford to travel live in first world countries with many creature comforts that we’ve come to expect. But quality of life on the road can be very different, especially in third world countries.

Here are a few of the things we take for granted at home that don’t always exist on the road:

  • Hot showers – Your nipples turn so hard they can cut diamonds, your balls shrink to the size of raisins, and your 20 minute shower suddenly condenses into 2. That’s what happens when you take a cold shower. Some places have jerry-rigged a hot plate that tries to heat the flowing cold water. It usually fails. Other places have only the cold water pipe. Granted, a cold shower is nice when it’s a balmy 100F with 100% humidity, but when it’s ass cold up in the mountains, a cold shower is throwing salt on a wound.
  • Change – This is something that has, and continues to, dumbfound me. In some countries, people do not have change. You’ll buy a bottle of water, pull out a reasonably sized bill and you swear they just shat their pants. They’ll insist that you give them smaller bills, preferably the exact amount.  If all you have is the one bill, you’re shit out of luck. Occasionally, they will run next door to see if other vendors have change but don’t count on it. Whenever I’m traveling, I find myself unhealthily hoarding smaller bills just so I don’t have to deal with this.
  • Credit/debit card usage – Once you leave a developed country, you’ll realize the rest of the world runs on cash. Even if it’s for a large transaction, say a diving course, they’ll want cash. There might be an option to pay by credit/debit but you’ll be hit with a significant (6-10%) transaction fee. It’s annoying to us who are used to buying everything with a swipe but the one upside is budget control: you can only spend as much as you have in your pocket. Large, mysterious charges on the credit card after a big night out? Not anymore, bitches!
  • TimelinessOn Utila, I waited an hour for eggs, potatoes and toast in an uncrowded restaurant. In South America, everyone is on “South America time” which is the stated time plus half an hour or so. In Thailand, a 1 hour ferry was late by 45 minutes. Most countries aren’t Switzerland or Germany, especially those in the third world. Two ways to approach this: (1) get raged every time something is late or (2) realize that everything is fucking late and be late yourself.
  • Orderly traffic – You think your local rush hour is bad? Wait till you’ve experienced the madness that is third world country traffic. A sea of bicycles, rickshaws, cars, motobikes, and the occasional animal crowd the streets in a seemingly random and nonsensical fashion. Families of four squeeze onto one scooter, people whiz by on the wrong side of the street, and the constant blaring of horns fills the air. The first time crossing a road is about as hard as parting the Red Sea and you hope you bought life insurance. Unlike “home”, pedestrians are at the bottom of the food chain. Just remember that the right of way belongs to the biggest vehicle and you’ll be fine.

These things can be annoying but it’s all part of the experience. Remember to take a step back, laugh it off, and don’t take it too seriously. You’re on vacation!

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Laym permalink
    September 20, 2011

    i laughed out loud to read the number #2, 4, and 5…you’re sound like my friend’s husband who’s Canadian..he live here in Jakarta for 3years and complaining the same thing to his wife everyday….hahhahhahahha…

  2. November 1, 2011

    PER your request duan…

    1. fucking HATE debit fees and credit card fees. its balls. #foreigntransactionsucks
    2. i HATE random sick people in hostel rooms. hey bro, you’re sick. so like sleep in a room alone and spare the rest of us. i swear 5 people of 8 had whooping cough in my hostel room in istanbul
    3. i HATE how shops try to scam you. hey bro, i’m not gonna spend $3 on a bottle of water when you’re people are buying it for $0.0005. trick: throw the LEAST amount of cash you have at these people. i’m talking 2 rupee MAX. make it RAIN. and the money grubbers will take it no matter what
    4. i HATE taking my passport with me everywhere at the fear that someone will jack it from my pad locked backpack
    5. i HATE being hollered at in 15 different languages when walking down the street in shorts.

    love backpacking, but love america more.


  3. December 13, 2011

    Well, you had me worried for a minute. Travel is all about the experience, you just have to enjoy it because your usually there only once. My first sojourn overseas was to Indonesia with a visit to Mt Bromo. Stayed at a tiny village at the top of the mountain and the water in the mandi was absolutely freezing!! Quickest wash I’ve ever had. The ride down the mountain in the local bus was hair raising to say the list, all kamikaze drivers.Traffic in Jakarta was like you said Big has right of way. Really scary stuff. But I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world. Love to travel.
    travelyn recently posted..A brief snapshot of Cambodia(Kampuchea)

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