Essential Third World Powers/Survival Skills

Being born and bred in third world-concrete jungle-pollution infested-Manila could just be the best thing that ever happened to me. As my fellow travel enthusiast Lissa once said, “Forget New York! If kaya mong hindi maligaw at magsurvive sa Maynila, you can make it anywhere. FUCK NEW YORK, eww.”


Okay, I exaggerated on that last bit. She’s a real nice person and wouldn’t say such a thing.


Anyway, if you’re a traveler looking for freebies and ways to cut down your spending on a trip, these special powers might come in handy as they did for me.

1) Having a street food-trained tummy

10 skills_tummy.jpg
When you book a budget flight scheduled at odd hours, you’ll find yourself missing out dinner and arriving at your destination around midnight. Chances are, you’ll be eating at a food stall at some side street like this one in Ho Chi Minh. From what I can tell by my uncanny hand to facial expression sign language, it was this kids birthday. In the PH, when you are offered a tagay or a celebratory shot of strong liquor resembling brake fluid, you simply do not say no. Needless to say, my uncles prepared me well.
10 skills_streetfood.jpg
While we Filipinos enjoy our buffet isaw and betamax  (chicken innards and dried pig’s blood) as street food, our appreciation for other’s grow exponentially. I mean, baked oysters. Along the street. What?

2) Mental “free loading” telepathy

10 skills_telapathy
When visiting a foreign land, it’s always a pleasant surprise to be welcomed by a kababayan. It was off-peak season at Veligandu Island Resort in Maldives, so she thought sending us to a private island with a personal speed boat would be cool since there were rarely any Filipinos visiting.
10 skills_lunch
It must be a Filipino custom to treat visiting friends. But don’t be a total leecher, though. Ask your long-time OFW friends what stuff they miss or need from home. A jar of bagoong got me and my family free lunch at a fancy resto.


3) Deep focus sleeping on any terrain

10 skills_sleeping.jpg
Must be the most important skill to have if you’re traveling long haul. Sleep is rest. And it’ll be difficult next to impossible to sleep along bumpy roads with dust coming in the exhaust of your airconditioning. Expect to get sick if you don’t have the antibodies of a Taft or Cubao commuter. Do conditioning and training along EDSA if you must.

4) High levels of appreciation for almost anything

When on a budget, you won’t be able to enter every attraction or tourist destination. So make the most of the art around you. If you appreciate the graffiti around EDSA, you love the sculptures like this one in the subways of SG.


Architecture. It’s free.
10 skills_appreciation store
Doing quick groceries and trusting the cashier with her cop-son to give you the exact change.
10 skills_appreciation school
Finding the patron saint of your High School staring back at you while you’re halfway around the world.
10 skills_appreciation
Appreciating desolation and nothingness.



5) Crowded commuting tolerance

10 skills_crowded 2
At Santa Cruz, Bolivia, this Coaster was the only public transpo available. It reminded me of the feeling of being 9 and riding my elementary school bus.

6) Going “Commando”

10 skills_commando.jpg
Sorry for the dad bod LOL. It sucks when you mix up your itinerary and forget to bring any swimwear. Wish I was as prepared as this guy.

7) Calmness during ‘Rush Hour’

10 skills_crowded
BOLIVIA at 8PM. This guy gave us directions which bus and habal habal to take to get back to the airport.


8) Adaptability to airport-living

10 skills_airport2
You can’t win ’em all. When you miss your flight and book the next cheap available one, you just might have to stay a whole night at the airport. If you can survive NAIA, you’ll find KIX very liveable.

10 skills_airport3

9) A great sense of anti-fashion

Find a good bargain. Buy it. Take care of it. Wear it as often as possible. Spending on different swim wear every time you visit the beach is like spending on different bed sheets everytime you sleep.

10 skills_antifashion110 skills_antifashion310 skills_antifashion2


10) Immunity to bad vibes

10 skills_embracing inner thirdworldnessC
Experiencing the third world-ness of other countries can be breathtaking with the proper mindset. A lot of things can go wrong and it won’t be easy. But if anything about traveling is truly worth it, it’s the lessons that you learn about yourself when adapting to these situations
At the end of the trip, it will be the smiles and new friends you make from around the world that you’ll be reminiscing about anyway.


The fact is, coming from the Philippines really equipped me with a whole lot more and I’m just beginning. Do you have other powers you think should be added on the list? Feel free to share it at the comments below or email me at Also, you can see more of my travel pics and learnings at my IG thirdworldtourist.

Hope to read or hear from you soon!


-Franco :*





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s