What you don't see in vacation photos

"How was your trip?"

'Oh, it was fantastic!'

"Yeah, your photos look incredible!"

Travelling in tropical places can be an amazing experience, but what people don't mention is that there are a lot of things you have to put up with. It's best to be mentally prepared before you take the plunge.
It's wonderful to be in the sun. Often this is the very reason you're going somewhere tropical. But imagine having to put sunscreen on every time you step out of the room, constantly sweating profusely even right after a shower. It can get a bit annoying.

If you want to do any outdoor activity, it'll be very taxing especially if you are outside between 10 am and 4 pm. Wake up early and avoid the heat! It's not fun to be exposed to the sun doing any physical activity when it's 37℃ out. Neither is getting sunburnt.
When you're booking accommodation, keep in mind that even though some rooms are cool with just a fan, often if the room's not that big, it will be extremely hot and stuffy inside. Ceiling fans tend to cool than room more than just a rotating fan. If the windows in your room don't have screens, opening them would be an invitation to all the mosquitoes nearby to feast on any exposed flesh. Spend more on an air-conditioned room if you can or make sure the windows at least have screens to block out bugs and hope that some inconsiderate prick doesn't smoke outside your window.


In many countries, it's completely normal to drive like a madman. Traffic signals are merely taken as suggestions or plainly ignored and signalling is unheard of.
gaijin trap When you're in a motor vehicle, just close your eyes and pray for the best as there really isn't much you can do. If you decide to ride a motorcycle, wear a helmet and be careful. If you're cycling on dirt paths, it will be bumpy and dusty. As a pedestrian, don't expect anybody to stop for you. The pavement (if there are any) will likely be full of unexpected traps so watch where you're going at all times. A flashlight may be necessary at night to avoid stepping on animal poo or falling into a pothole. It's no joke.
Other than car fumes and inconsiderate smokers, a lot of places also don't have an effective garbage disposal system so don't be surprised to see piles of trash just on the side of the road or in bodies of water. It's common for locals to burn garbage just on the side of the street.

Quite often people just litter like nobody's business. Don't be one of them.
Also, not everyone likes peace and quiet as much as you might think they would. Incessant noise doesn't seem to bother a lot of people. Bring earplugs.

Being the tropics, there are bugs everywhere and all the time. Don't let your guard down!

Guidebooks always suggest wearing long sleeves, but who really does that when it's almost 40℃ outside? Insect repellent doesn't always work well but it sure is better than nothing. Don't be tempted to open your windows if there aren't screens. At night, turn the light off before you quickly exit your room. Have some anti-itch cream ready.

Don't freak out if you see geckos or other creatures. It's their home.
It always makes me laugh when I read tips on how to avoid getting stomach problems, as if it's under our control! True you can avoid ice or not eat at places that look dirty and have no refrigeration . However, most of the time, there's no telling who is going to win the diarrhea lottery even if you try your best to eat at "legit" places. Just know it will likely pass in a day or two. I never used to get sick but my recent 3-month trip in Southeast Asia has taught me that we are all far from invincible. Have some medication ready.

We all know that people are the worst sometimes. It's a given that adapting to cultural differences can be a bit frustrating, but the most irritating could be other tourists. We can all aspire to at least try not to be an obnoxious tourist.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the displeasure of witnessing a very rude tourist who actually snapped her fingers (while lying down!) to get the local waiter. Following her order, she loudly said "Okay?!" in an annoyed tone as if he was a moron. Yo lady! English may not be his first language but it clearly ain't yours either. There's no need for that superior attitude! He did nothing to deserve her utterly disgusting behavior. It was completely unnecessary. Hey lady, he ain't your slave! Service staff ≠ someone you can treat badly just because you feel like it. Unbelievable.
At immigration, they should really ask, "Are you an jackass?" and deny entry to all those who show signs of being one. Most people tell stories of all the cool people they have met while travelling. Just know that there might be just as many assholes to avoid.