Four Simple Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity in a Chaotic Third World Country
Traveling in the world’s third world destinations is an interesting experience, in far more ways than one, and in a world that has grown so small, it’s nice to know there are still some places to find true adventure. But there is also the danger of going a little too far down the rabbit hole.
With corruption running rampant, a little money can buy just about anything in a third world country, allowing long-term expats no end to satisfaction of their worst habits—not to mention income disparities creating a multitude of people who will do just about anything for a buck.
Then there’s the tendency for any human, you and me included, to get carried away when money is suddenly twice as valuable and time completely free.
So, here are some simple tips for maintaining your sanity while traveling or living in a third world destination.
1. Maintain a Regular Schedule
First off, make a commitment before you even go to maintain a regular schedule. If you don’t fill your time, that time is far more likely to be filled by something unhealthy than something productive—things can get out of hand really quick in a cheap “paradise.”
There are plenty of activities you can use to structure your day and keep yourself productive (see some ideas in the next tip). Once you’ve decided what you will do with all this free time, set a time to get up in the morning every day, and stick to it.
You don’t have to go Spartan on me—I get up at a comfortable 9am, and I take weekends and holidays off as well. Occasional parties are inevitable (as well as a lot of fun), but maintain your sanity.
2. Keep Yourself Busy
Study some computer skills and start an online business to bring in some extra cash. Enroll in a class—anything from art to language to sports. Start writing that book you always wanted to write. Make a list of all the goals you never had the time to pursue and start checking them off one by one.
It is often said that older people who retire begin to die not because of old age but because they lose a sense of purpose. People are only fulfilled when working towards something more, when improving, so make your personal growth a primary focus in your life.
3. Maintain Your Body With a Daily Workout
A workout plan is as important as ever in the third world and offers another way to structure your day. When you get up every morning and get some exercise, you start out on the right foot and this motivates you to take better care of your body the rest of the day. And the more you want to take care of your body, the less you will want to abuse it.
4. Don’t Date People You Wouldn’t Date at Home
This particularly applies to men but to some women as well—don’t get involved in relationships with the type of people you wouldn’t get caught dead with at home. For men, a good example of something to avoid is deciding a prostitute makes a good person to move in with. For women, excusing a man’s violent behavior, especially towards women, on account of his cultural upbringing is dangerously (and obviously) slippery slope.
In fact, I recommend being even more cautious about your lovers than you would be back home as there is so much going on that you don’t understand.
5. Call Home Often
Humans need more than mere causal social interaction to feel fulfilled. Call home to your friends and family often—once every week, call one or two people you care about and spend some time talking with them.
Maintaining these ties keeps you grounded and constantly reminds you there are people out there who do care about you—family connections are right there no matter where you are in the world, thanks to modern technology.
Cheap, third world countries offer a lot of opportunity and adventure for a savvy world traveler or seasoned expat, but anyone who lives in these places also finds very quickly that it is easy to step off the deep end and lose yourself in the darker side. Use these simple tips above to plan a life worth living, and you’ll come out the other end a better person instead.