One of the biggest things in life that I appreciate the more I travel is how great we have it in the United States (or substitute your own developed home country here). Though I enjoy visiting other cultures, there’s always a sense of comfort I get whenever I return back home after hanging out in a far off unfamiliar place.
Some random things I truly love about where I live:
- Reasonable traffic. Even in the busiest US cities, the traffic pales in comparison to what I’ve seen in places like Cairo or Ho Chi Minh City. Oh my good god the road congestion in those cities. I’d probably die just trying to start the car. Shudder.
- Good air quality. This obviously varies depending on where I’m vacationing, but overall the air where I reside is plenty breathable.
- Plenty of napkins at restaurants. I’ve been constantly surprised at how stingy places can be overseas when it comes to napkins. I’m a clumsy guy and tend to spill things when I eat out, so I require an average of 2 normal sized napkins per meal. Some countries don’t even have napkins at all. The last time I was in South Korea, all we got at the table were either tissues or a roll of toilet paper. Not really the right tool for the job, but I guess it’s better than nothing.
- The ability to flush toilet paper. This one bothers me the most of anything on this list. Many countries I’ve visited – the most recent example being Cuba – discourage flushing TP after you’ve done your business and wiped. The first time I encountered this was in Greece when the locals were very adamant that we don’t flush our used toilet paper and instead throw it in a small garbage can next to the toilet. This ritual has something to do with their super old and fragile plumbing system. Gotta say, I’m not a fan.
- Having toilets with toilet seats. Seems like if you install a toilet, it should have a seat. Even in some of the shittiest establishments in North America, the toilet will almost always still have an accompanying seat. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere. Sitting comfortably on the can is a luxury many of us take for granted.
- Being able to drink the water. Aside from rare exceptions like the debacle in Flint, Michigan, having tap water that is perfectly fine to drink is an enormous blessing that most of us don’t even think about. It doesn’t always taste awesome, but at least it won’t give you Cholera. I was reminded of this on both of my recent international trips to Egypt and Cuba where even brushing your teeth with the tap water was discouraged.
- Lots of clean towels at hotels. Unless you’re staying at a hotel that is truly bottom of the barrel, almost every US hotel I’ve stayed at provides abundant towels of varying sizes that get replaced each day. Having these are super handy when you travel light and require a big towel to dry your hand washed clothes each evening.
Aside from the bathroom stuff, most of these are minor nuisances that in no way negatively affect my desire to travel abroad. But it’s still nice to reflect on the differences and acknowledge how lucky I am to live in a place of abundance and comfort.