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How to Travel Comfortably in the Developing World

Updated on July 3, 2011

Comfort and Cleanliness on a Shoestring...

Travelling comfortably on a tight budget in the developing world is an art.

Communal toilets, showers, beds and regular experiments with street food can impact your trip in ways ranging from mild discomfort through to debilitating illness. However, with a little preparation, many of the small things which can add up to spoil an otherwise great trip can be avoided.

Pack these items so that your trip is unforgettable for all of the right reasons. Some items are obvious, some less so. All recommendations come out of a personal experience - generally a rather negative or embarrassing one!

If you're really feeling adventurous, purchase or make them yourself when you get where you're going! 

Life's Necessities?

Could you survive without toilet paper?

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Sierra Leone has an unbelievable number and quality of beaches. This is the reward of learning to live comfortably off the beaten track!
Sierra Leone has an unbelievable number and quality of beaches. This is the reward of learning to live comfortably off the beaten track!
Hammocks are the best way to camp outdoors - you have no restrictions on where you sleep at night, and are kept comfortable and dry. Notice the water bottles with funnels attached to the sides of the cover sheet: they act to collect water during rain
Hammocks are the best way to camp outdoors - you have no restrictions on where you sleep at night, and are kept comfortable and dry. Notice the water bottles with funnels attached to the sides of the cover sheet: they act to collect water during rain
  • Toilet paper: It's never around when you need it. In the beginning this can often seem like a real necessity, though mastery of the squat toilet (and plentiful supplies of soap!) can render it unnecessary, if packing space or simplicity is a concern.
  • Hand Sanitising Gel (alcohol based): Preferably in a small bottle. Useful for everyday hygiene, and doesn't require water to use, so it's especially useful where water is limited or just plain hard to find. As a contact lens wearer this is one of the most useful hygiene items I have!
  • Travel Soap: Travel soap is different to conventional soap. Useful as both a soap and a shampoo, travel soaps are generally highly concentrated (so a little goes a long way) and made to lather well in brackish or hard water that you will often find for bathing in the developing world. I include it additional to the sanitising gel above as it is often inconvenient and messy to be fishing around in your pack every time you want to wash your hands.
  • Antiseptic Cream: For the inevitable minor cuts and grazes.
  • Anti Fungal Cream: Like it or not, travelling on a budget in the developing world means using communal...well, everything! Which isn't a drama as long as you know that at some point strange rashes will appear in even stranger places. Keep yourself dry in all the important places and you will be fine.
  • Baby Wipes: Shower in a box! One of the most indispensable items you will ever travel with. Useful either to freshen up generally, or as a substitute to showering if travelling in an area where water is scarce. If you can, get some that come in soft packaging so you can mould them around your own packing. A single pack of 200 wipes will generally last for weeks.
  • Talcum Powder: Especially useful in damper, tropical climates to dry out the more "intricate" parts of our anatomy. Great for rashes, plus you get to smell nice.
  • A Travelling Hammock: I choose the Hennessy Hammock here because I own one and love it. Hammocks are easily the most comfortable, clean versatile and convenient way to camp or sleep rough. Still one of my most prized possessions. Having the ability to sleep literally anywhere makes travelling to otherwise inaccessible places a reality. The built-in mosquito netting is a godsend when it comes to protecting from malaria.

Although often unbearably hot during the day, the desert can become equally cold at night. Be prepared! (Namibia)
Although often unbearably hot during the day, the desert can become equally cold at night. Be prepared! (Namibia)
Running sandals - comfortable, cheap and disposable.
Running sandals - comfortable, cheap and disposable.
  • Sleeping Bag: To suit your intended destinations climate. Be aware that desert and mountain locations, no matter how warm they get during the day, can become bitterly cold at night. Better to have a bag that is a little warmer than you think you will need. If you're worried about overheating while you sleep, bring along a...(see below)
  • Sleeping Bag Liner: Nothing fancy - just take an old bed sheet, fold it in half and sew along the side and bottom. Voila! Useful as a sleeping bag in it's own right if you live in a tropical area, though most beneficial for keeping your sleeping bag clean - it is vastly easier to clean a liner than a sleeping bag when you are on the road!
  • Flip Flops/Sandals: Closed in footwear is great for hiking, but don't fall into the trap of bringing only one pair of shoes on your journey. Your feet will suffer from a hygiene perspective, and you'll quickly tire or lacing up a set of boots in the dark just to run out to the bathroom. Flip flops or sandals make the ideal companion shoe as they let your feet air out, are easy to put on and remove, and provide a convenient way to keep your feet clean(er) when using communal toilets or bathing. If you're really into recycling, you can make your own running sandals out of scrap. Easy to make and replace.


Does the "Third World" actually exist?

In the Amazon with a Hammock

If you're thinking of travelling in the developing world, you'll like these...

The Adventure Capitalist: Camels, Carpets and Coffee: How Face-to-face Trade is the New Economics
The Adventure Capitalist: Camels, Carpets and Coffee: How Face-to-face Trade is the New Economics

One man's challenge to trade his way around the world. How to make adventure into a business. A thoroughly enjoyable read, ideal for the would-be entrepeneur. I loved it.

 

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    • molson5070 profile image

      molson5070 

      8 years ago from State College, Pa

      the video Does the "Third World" actually exist? was one of the most interesting videos ive ever seen... nice hub!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Great, interesting Hub with a lot of very practical advice.

      Loved it!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 

      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      What a fab hub, I love the practical realism dribbled thoughout and yet the magic is married with it perfectly. I love those sandals and just must make them. What a great way to launch your HubPages career. I dream of traveling to every corner of this amazing planet and this hub will be tucked away as a must have for how to travel comfortably in the developing world. Thanks and Peace :)

    • bornblond8dg profile image

      bornblond8dg 

      8 years ago

      This is a great hub article with alot of really good info...thanks for sharing!

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 

      8 years ago from California

      Hah, bathroom habits are fun. I wrote one on the conspiracy of bathrooms with those motion detectors and how it's an evil plot to make us all look stupid. So, I'm with you on the topic.

    • ilmdamaily profile imageAUTHOR

      ilmdamaily 

      8 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

      Thank you Shade, I appreciate the sentiment:-) I should really use my forum time to polish off my hubs - but it's a guilty indulgence! My views on most things are generally very different, though I always strive for respect and coherence in expressing myself. Thank you for reading the hub - the link to the squat toilet article will be changed shortly to one i'm almost finished writing myself (can't believe i've been reduced to writing about bathroom habits lol).

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 

      8 years ago from California

      I read your very calm, rational, respectful and articulate responses on the forums over the last day or two and decided to give your hub a read. It's a great hub, very practical and useful. I even went and read the squat toilet hub and the article about how to make huaraches (sp?). Good stuff. (I don't have the knees or ankle for a squat toilet; that would be bad. LOL).

    • ilmdamaily profile imageAUTHOR

      ilmdamaily 

      8 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

      Thanks blondepoet! Let's go now! I rode my motorcycle from Canberra to Perth a couple of years ago: the nullarbor is my most favourite place on the planet - I miss it terribly. Thanks for the comment ;-)

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 

      8 years ago from australia

      Great advice truly. So when are we planning our outback adventure trip? I have a tent and a air-bed. :)

    • ilmdamaily profile imageAUTHOR

      ilmdamaily 

      8 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

      @Ashmi: Thanks Ashmi - that must have been amazing! I am incredibly envious!

      @MOW: Thanks :-) Yes, it certainly is hard to find the romance in "squatting" lol - but hopefully this'll help someone!

      @Rafini: Thank you Rafini, I certainly did!

      @Zampano: Thank you Zampano - I guess travel is the ultimate romance isn't it...except that the relationship that benefits the most is the one you have with yourself:-)

    • profile image

      zampano 

      8 years ago

      very practical.

      The romantic side of travelling is not at all spoiled.

      It is well preserved by these advices.

      Thank you man.

    • Rafini profile image

      Rafini 

      8 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      Interesting and well presented. Sounds like you had fun on your travels...:D

    • myownworld profile image

      myownworld 

      8 years ago from uk

      Yes, it isn't all about the romantic notion of adventure, is it? Instead practical details need to be taken care of before we can make the most of our experience, so yes, very useful advice and nicely presented too! Look forward to reading more of your hubs. :)

    • Ashmi profile image

      Ashmi 

      8 years ago from Somewhere out there

      Great advice!...it reminds me of when I lived out of a campervan for two years traveling around Spain. The baby wipes are a must!

    • ilmdamaily profile imageAUTHOR

      ilmdamaily 

      8 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

      Thanks Origin - though don't wait for the recession to clear! Economic problems in europe and north america mean that most parts of the developing world are crying out for tourists (even more than usual!), so you can have your destination to yourself. Additionally, this also means that you can travel for even less money than normal...

    • Origin profile image

      Origin 

      8 years ago from Minneapolis

      This is pretty handy, I was considering traveling to different parts of the world at some point (after the whole recession clears up).

    • ilmdamaily profile imageAUTHOR

      ilmdamaily 

      8 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      loriamoore 

      8 years ago

      All good tips.

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