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Top Ten Ways to Stay Sane While Traveling Abroad

While we love our on-the-go travel lifestyles, viagra 60mg backpacking for months through the developing world can be tiring and stressful. Every week, it feels like we play a new game of Survivor, salve orienting ourselves to a new city, currency, and language. Meeting locals for our project, we’ve also listened to numerous stories of violence, discrimination, and poverty. We’ve had our fair share of breaking points and times of homesickness.

Here are some of our survivor skills on how we’ve taken care of ourselves to stay sane…..

10) Watch TV: Jenni and I never used to watch TV at home, but we now binge watch American sitcoms when we need a dose of home. Our current favorite is Modern Family. After a day of learning about the Killing Fields in Cambodia, you need to pop in an episode of great American fluff TV to escape.

9) Connect with Friends at Home: Thanks to technology, we’re really never that far away. Of course it takes more effort than at home, but I try to stay in touch as best as possible with friends and family. I Facetime with my sister and talk to my niece on video at least three times a week. I’ve gotten to see all of her milestones.

8) Get a Massage: Without a doubt, we’ve enjoyed this luxury throughout Asia. Ranging from $4-$20 for an hour, we’ve gotten a massage at least every other week. Sure there are times we’ve had to make sure that the sheets are clean and that we haven’t walked into a brothel by accident. But for the most part, we’ve left highly satisfied, relaxed, and ready for the next challenge.

7) Carry Granola Bars and Water: So much of my crankiness comes from dehydration and hunger. When you are unsure of where you can eat or what to order, it’s extremely helpful to have some granola bars and water on you in case your next meal doesn’t come around for a while. (Bonus: You next meal can also be granola bars and water if the previous meal did not agree with you.)

6) Jump in a Cab to go to the closest Shangri-La Hotel: In general, we stay in budget hostels that cost around $25 night. The facilities hardly measure up to a five-star resort. But that doesn’t stop us from living a five-star life. When we had a breakdown at our hostel in the Philippines after finding numerous cockroaches, we escaped and snuck into the Shangri-La Resort to spend the day at their pool. In Kathmandu, we found respite from the overcrowded streets in another Shangri-La. By ordering two Cokes, we got to spend the afternoon in their quiet and immaculate gardens. Bonus: These high-end hotels often have free international newspapers in their lobby as well.

5) Meet Ex-Pats: We love meeting ex-pats. They tend to be highly educated and doing highly fascinating work. Through the great lesbian network, we’ve met ex-pats in Shanghai, Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Nepal. Their perspective of living as an in-country resident helps us decode cultural norms and expectations. Plus, they know better than anyone where to get the best deals, what to see, and how to get around.

4) Read About Extreme Circumstances: When the going gets tough, I like to remind myself that other people have had it worse. Last week while doing a ten day trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, I read the book Annapurna by Maurice Herzog about the first expedition to reach the summit of the mountain in 1950. So, when I was at 12,800 feet and freezing to the bone, I read about how the first explorers suffered hypothermia and and lost limbs due to frostbite. Instantly, I could deal with my own discomfort better. I’m continuing with the same strategy as we head off to do a 20 day trek to Everest Base Camp next week by watching a documentary about a group of blind Tibetan teenagers who scaled Everest.

3) Go to McDonald’s: After seeing the documentary Supersize Me four years ago, I never ate at McDonald’s again. But after spending two hours frustrated, hungry, and lost on public transportation in Australia, Jenni and I broke down and bought Big Macs. Eating a Big Mac can feel like a home-cooked meal when you are in a foreign country. So, I have a new policy. I can only go to McDonald’s while abroad.

2) Swing by an Upscale Air-conditioned Mall: I’ve never enjoyed hanging out in malls. Not even at age 16 when it was the cool place to go to escape your parents. But we’ve traveled through some pretty humid conditions in Asia. I got out of an air conditioned cab once in the Philippines and my eye-glasses fogged up. Heading to an air conditioned mall is the best way for free relief so that you can cool down and head back out.

1) Tiger Balm Everything: In countries where sewage systems fail and garbage is thrown everywhere, smells can take over. Jenni and I now put Tiger Balm on our temples and under our noses to maintain a minty fresh smell. This is especially helpful before walking into any squatter toilets in Asia where there is no running water. (Also key on trekking and camping trips when you are the problem because there are no showers!)

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4 Responses

  1. Love the tips. Especially appreciate the mac donalds comment. When I was living in italy I remember craving a hamburger and convincing a group of people to hitch hike four hours down to naples from rome so we could get a hamburger on the american base downthere. Little tricks to make you sane!

    1. glad to hear you’re enjoying your time out there. and i’m happy to help with the cause. i’m alluacty using your gift this very moment. be sure to let your folks know it’s coming either tuesday or thursday this week. i’ll be sure to put in a little extra to invest in your stay. miss you much chica, you know i luv ya. and can’t wait to finally see you out there. ;D~stephaney

  2. You’ve so got it, down! I share the ‘only in foreign countries may I eat McDonald’s’ rule. It’s a life-saver. Also, an air-conditioned mall (with a cinema) also saved my sanity once in Thailand…

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