Tips and Tricks: Travelling to Developing Countries
Developing countries, also known as third world countries are filled with promise and opportunities. These countries make for some of the best tourist destinations in the world. There are however risks that are unique to developing countries that any tourist or business traveler should know about. Below are some of the tips and tricks for traveling to developing countries.
Do your research beforehand
It is always important to do your research about your host country before traveling, no matter where that might be. Although guidebooks are good resources to find out about your destination, these can often be outdated especially those that are not necessarily big sellers. The internet is a great place to find all kinds of information that may be useful to you. Google Alerts are especially good for this purpose. You are more likely to find vital information about the country you are traveling to even before it hits the mainstream media.
Prepare yourself mentally
Anyone traveling to a developing country especially for the first time should not underestimate the potential for culture shock. This is something that even the most season travelers experience. The initial days can be especially difficult, and can put a real damper on the trip. One good tip is to splurge on good hotels, preferably western-style ones. These usually have food, services and an atmosphere close to home, and can help you acclimatize quickly.
Pay attention to the food
Flies are common place in developing countries, and can easily contaminate food since they carry illness and disease. It is ok to reject food served to you where there is an over abundance of flies. You may want to especially stay away from purchasing unsafe food and food from street vendors. You can get the same great tasting local delicacies at clean local restaurants. Also pay attention to fruits and vegetables. Peel any of these before consuming and by all means avoid eating lettuce. It has been known to make many tourists in developing countries sick. Lastly, it is recommended that you stay away from drinking tap water unless it is boiled first. Your best bet is mineral water. Be sure to check that the seal hasn’t been tampered with before consuming.
Get medical insurance
Medical care in public hospitals in developing countries is in dire need for reforms, so your best choice as far as seeking treatment for illness or injuries is private hospitals. These can however be extremely expensive (even by western standards) especially so for tourists and non-residents. This can easily lead to financial problems especially if you need emergency evacuation. It is strongly recommended that tourists get travel insurance before making a trip abroad. This should cater for medical care and help you avoid financial ruin should you find yourself in a position where you need urgent medical care.
Pay attention to personal safety
Most developing countries are relatively safe as long as you employ common sense and take the same safety precautions that you would if you were home. Some of these countries do however have terrorist organizations that target tourists especially for kidnappings for ransom. This rarely happens in the big cities but you should avoid walking around in expensive clothing and jewellery. As much as possible; try to dress similar to the locals to avoid having the ‘tourist look’. Cargo shorts, flip flops and backpacks for example are the stereotypical tourist look so avoid these as much as possible. Also avoid wearing t-shirts or other items of clothing with your country’s flag displayed on them.
Learn about local traditions and taboos
It is very important that you learn about local customs, traditions and taboos before traveling to developing countries. You don’t have to be an expert, but a little general information will go a long way in helping you have a comfortable stay. Muslim countries for example have a strict dress code especially where women are concerned. Sex is also a taboo topic in most developing countries. Apart from learning about these things, spend the first couple of days simply observing. You will be able to learn a lot more than you could ever read in this way.
Be fair when bargaining
Haggling is a way of life in most developing countries. Whether you are bargaining with your taxi driver or market vendor, you can always get a better deal. Still, it is important to be fair. Although you should never leave feeling ripped off, a few extra coins may not mean much to you but could mean the world to the vendor.
A lot has been said about visiting developing countries, most of it negative. These countries make for some of the best business and pleasure destinations in the world. These tips are simply meant to help you navigate your destination, and be able to take home the best possible experience from your travels.