Let me start by saying although the title of this posts may lead to you believe I consider myself to be some holier-than-thou traveller; please rest assure I am not, nor do I ever hope to be. I have been to a third world country only a couple of times, and I am by no means an expert. The reason for the title of this post is to coax you into reading about a couple of the main things that I think a responsible traveller from a first world country should be aware of, before they begin their trip. If you read this post and can think of something else to mention, please post a comment below, it would be a great addition.
without further adu.
When I arrived in Nepal for the first time, I loved the feeling of the humid air, the dusty smell and loud sounds coming from just outside the airport, and it was just what I expected. I took it all in as I waited in line at the immigration counter, I couldn’t wait to see what was Kathmandu was like.
Like most people I’ve travelled before but had never spent a significant amount of time in a third world country. I was scheduled to be in Nepal for almost three months, and I tried to be prepared before I came. As when you go anywhere new, you can only do so much research, then on your next trip to the same place you will know what to pack, what not too, where to get this, that, and the other. After my time in Nepal, I returned home with not only a lot of amazing stories and new friends, but a new awareness of how people in first world countries can be oblivious to the detrimental impact they could have on third world countries.
I don’t have all the answers or even know all the questions, but there are a few things you can do, or at the least consider and think through before your trip to any third world country.
Basic Tips for Visiting a Third World Country
- Be respectful
- Be open to the culture and customs of the country you’re in
- Eat what the local’s do, it’s the cleanest food you will eat
- Learn a few word in the local language, hello, thank you, yes please, (you will get major kudos for this)
- Tourism brings cash into impoverished countries, but be wise not to put a drain on their natural resources, don’t overeat, use too much TP, hot water, etc,
- When possible don’t leave useless garbage behind in rural areas. Pack out what you pack in
- Spend less on “stuff” and instead donate money to a local school or charity
- Don’t give any sweets to children. They will beg and plead, but most people could never afford to see a dentist, so this is just not wise
- For the love of god, sort out your Visa’s and any permits you may need before you travel. You need to know this inside and out, or there is a very good chance someone will scam you
- Money, make a firm plan of how much cash you will bring with you. How you can get more if you need it (and where from) and what your backup plan is if you lose or spend it all. A Visa is always a good backup plan and accepted just about everywhere
- Pack well in advance of your travels then take everything out and put 20% back in, that’s how much you need
- Don’t bring sparkly jewellery or anything that makes you stand out; this should be self-explanatory
- Don’t show too much skin, or ANY boob, not only is it disrespectful in most countries, but you will also be treated differently and not in a good way
On a final note, if you’re not sure about something just ask. A great source for information from real people who have been where you’re going to is the lonely planet thorn tree this is an excellent public forum for current questions and answers.