Prior to the perspective you’ll gain from experiencing things first-hand, let me share with you some of the little things that may come as a surprise to you – things like cold water temps and perpetual heat...
“Sweat”, It Does a Body Good!
When looking for a hotel room in the United States, it is not common to confirm if the room has air conditioning, however, when searching for hotels, or other lodging outside of the US, particularly in a tropical region, you may need to confirm! In most cases, it is available, but at a premium, so then the debate may be: do I want to sweat it out, or, cut into my activity-fund for the air conditioning?
I opt for the air conditioning, when available, but when living long-term in Brazil, I didn’t have a choice but to be without AC – which, in the end, was not so problematic. There were plenty of fans and windows to open.
Absent-AC-ism doesn’t only plague lodging situations – in public you may find that air conditioning is non-existent, like in city busses, taxis, or restaurants & bars, and other public places. So depending on how long your stay is, and if you are in a tropical zone, you may sweat a lot – it’s okay, it’s good for the pores!
Beware that Droplet of Water
When you travel, it is recommended not to consume the tap-water because of microbes that may exist in it, to which your body is not accustomed. It is recommended not to let the shower water get in your mouth, and some even warn against using the faucet water to brush your teeth. I suppose it is best to air on the side of caution, but as I reflect, I think I have forgotten this recommendation when brushing my teeth, and I don’t recall any major adverse reactions, so I guess it depends where your stomach falls on the strength scale.
But most places outside of the US abound in bottled water, so you don’t have to go without. But as more Americans succumb to a pro-bottled-water marketing campaign, and drink the (bottled) Kool-Aid, it is becoming second nature to stock up on bottled water, and not drink the tap-water – so this may not exactly be an “adjustment”, for some.
Beware that COLD Droplet of Water
One more water-woe, would be the water temperature and pressure you may encounter as you travel abroad. It can be far less than piping-hot, and more like room-temperature – which is cold if it’s spraying on your body! I’m not sure if the cold water is due to the limits of the infrastructure, or the cost of water heaters, or cultural preference, or a mixture of all three…Or other reasons to which I’m not aware, for that matter! All I know is that I’ve learned to not be too disappointed if the water coming out of the nozzle doesn’t get past lukewarm, and that’s even if hot water is advertised! But it’s okay, it makes for a quick shower, giving you more time to explore your host country!
Don’t Flush that Paper!
Are you from the US, and used to flushing your used toilet paper down the toilet? Of course you are! Well, when you go outside of the US, to places like Brasil, Colombia, and Mexico, to name a few, you need to toss that in the small trashcan next to the toilet. This is applicable in private residences, hotels, and public restrooms. There’s not much to say about this point, but as a courtesy, please wrap the wad of paper tight before you toss it in the bin.
The previous points aren't exactly selling points for travel, but they are important to know, so you can be better prepared while taking your adventure! Besides, once you find yourself enjoying a sunset over turquoise waters, or dancing an impromptu Samba at the beach, those little adjustments will be far from your mind!
For a lighter side of "What to Expect When You're Expecting...to Travel!!" see "What to Expect When You're Expecting...to Travel!! Part II", coming soon!