The luxury of travel can often mean giving up your luxuries.
Traveling can be extremely glamorous at times. Sometimes though, it is the exact opposite. In every country I go to I try to write down the major differences between that country and my own. Most of the things I missed overseas never even crossed my mind of being uncommon.
It’s powerful seeing first hand the true difference between your needs and wants. I’ve learned that I can live without all of these things below and many people have their whole lives.
Some of these things might shock you. For all my fellow travelers, you’re probably going to look at these and laugh about your first time experiencing the abnormalities of our different cultures. Don’t be like me and wait for culture shock to slap you in the face.
Here we go…
Ok, I’m going to give it to you straight. Don’t expect air conditioning in Europe. I once had to sleep naked with a fan I gladly rented for 20 Euros because it was 96 degrees INSIDE my German hostel. Ah, glamour.
Say goodbye to iced water, coffee, soda, etc. I once requested ice in a café in Italy and was immediately laughed at, accompanied by a look of disbelief that I would dare ask such a thing. Needless to say, my drink was very lukewarm that day.
Start carrying around tissues. You will use them. And not for your sniffles.
Have you ever wanted to save some money and just get water with your meal? Everywhere in Europe you’re going to pay for that water.
Speaking of paying….
5. Free Refills
Yeah, forget that.
6. Hot Water
I can count on one hand the number of actual hot showers I’ve had while traveling. Is it always a bad thing? No. When you’re sharing a hostel with 6 people you’re trying to limit your time anyway, but I do start to miss a long, hot shower every now and then.
7. Your Native Tongue
Nothing is more eye opening than being the only person in a crowd of people who speaks your language. My very first experience with this was in Paris the first time I tried to go out to eat. Myself and three other girls were laughed out of multiple places before finding a place with broken English and pictures. Was I humiliated? Yes. My biggest advice would be to learn some basic phrases to get by. “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” will go a long way.
8. Free Bathrooms
This one still irritates me. I’ve paid up to 3 dollars before just to use the restroom. Gas stations, restaurants, bars, museums, you name it. Carry change everywhere or you might end up in a not so ideal situation.
No, seriously. Carry Germ-X.
China doesn’t sell tampons. Let that process for a bit.
11. Peanut Butter
“You don’t know what you have till it’s gone.”
12. Good Water Pressure
In Amsterdam, water for my shower only lasted 15 seconds at a time. So I had to become a pro at washing my hair with one hand while holding the knob down with the other. I will say though, you get what you pay for. (*cough cough* hostels)
In many countries your shower is as good as pouring a bucket of water over your head. But hey, a shower is a shower.
13. Clean Tap Water
Be very careful with this one. Drinking or using tap water is not always a smart choice. Oh the joys of brushing your teeth with a water bottle. (Not mineral water, of course)
Not only is ketchup uncommon in a lot of places, if you find it you’ll likely have to pay for it. Bad news for all of you Ranch lovers as well.
I never travel with a data plan so free Wi-Fi is my only hope of communication. Aside from the faithful Starbucks, you might have to pay for most Wi-Fi. Also, be aware that once you get Wi-Fi it might be very weak. I actually had to call from a payphone in London once to let my parents know I was alive.
16. Traffic Lanes
Spoiler: I am terrified of driving.
In the Scotland Highlands, I saw my life flash before my eyes as we drove down a road with no lanes and got completely sideswiped by another driver. It even tore off the side mirror while we were inches from a drop off.
In Paris, around the Arc de Triomphe there are no lanes for about 7 lanes worth of traffic. If you’re caught in a collision there insurance automatically makes you pay 50/50 no matter what.
17. Customizing Your Food Order
Don’t like everything on your burger? Too bad, you get it all. Don’t even embarrass yourself asking to alter it. (speaking from experience) Food service workers don’t like to deviate from their menus.
18. Actual Toilets
I’ll let the pictures do this one justice…
19. Customer Service
This is HUGE in countries that don’t tip. Don’t be shocked if a waiter/waitress is extremely rude to you. It will happen, and you will get offended. It’s pretty common for a waiter or waitress to portray very little customer service.
20. A Nice Mattress/Bed
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a comfortable place to rest at night. Never take that for granted. On another note, while traveling you might find yourself sleeping in crazy places. I’ve slept in airport lobbies, overnight buses and beds so tiny a toddler would be uncomfortable.
21. Clean Sheets
Watch out for bed bugs. They’re extremely common in hostels.
Air-dry is the new “extra fluff”.
Packing tip: Bring a wrinkle release spray unless you feel like carrying on your iron. (*not advised*)
23. Health Care
It’s terrifying not having advanced medicine within your reach. It’s even scarier not having access to a doctor or one who speaks your language. It’s very easy to become ill while traveling because you are constantly being exposed to new foods, air, sanitation, germs, etc. Read up and make sure to take the proper vaccines for certain countries.
24. Public Trash Cans
In Japan, for example, I always had to hold my trash until I got back to my accommodation. There are no trashcans around but you won’t find trash on the ground. Also, in London around Buckingham Palace you won’t find any “rubbish” bins due to safety precautions.
25. Women’s Rights
The ability to wear what you want, say what you want and go where you want isn’t handed to every woman in the world. In some countries your rights are stripped simply because of your gender.
26. FREEDOM. OF. SPEECH.
Can I get a “U-S-A” chant?