Technical Difficulties: No Power? No Problem!
It’s easy to freak out when the going gets tough, but try to remember the end of that old adage: no power? No problem!
Many travelers come from a background that has certain standards. Though seemingly every day, the commodities we’re familiar with, like clean running water, functioning electricity, and cell phone service, are considered luxuries in many regions of the world. It can be hard to leave these comforts, and even harder getting used to a place without them.
Living off the grid is not an easy switch to make. Sometimes, it’s not even by choice, but unforeseen circumstances that plunge you into what might seem like the Dark Ages. But don’t stress, it really will be okay.
First, DON’T PANIC.
Maybe, there was a freak lightning storm that caused a power surge. Possibly, you’re in a country like Myanmar, where rolling blackouts are actually pretty frequent. Or you could be unlucky enough to arrive in town right when a nearby fire takes out the main power supply. Whatever it may be, it’s not what you were expecting. It’s really easy to get yourself worked into a tizzy, yell and scream and pout, or worse, leave.
While yes, it can be pretty stressful to arrive at your hostel and not know when you’ll have running water for a shower, freaking out only makes you feel worse, without fixing anything. Try to be realistic with yourself: it might take a few hours, it might take a few days, it might be permanent. But no wifi for a little while isn’t a good enough reason to bail on your own trip.
Always be prepared
Before you head out, know a little bit about where you’re off to. Is lack of power a common occurrence? Will clean drinking water be easily available to you? Even if the answers are yes, for backpackers it’s sometimes good to have something handy, just in case. Flashlights are relatively cheap, and you can purchase batteries anywhere. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer can be life savers if you can’t wash your hands or shower for a while.
In most places, you should be able to track down a bottle of water or two, but if it’s a concern, pick up a pack of iodine pills and a water canteen. In some cases it’s definitely better to be over prepared than under. If you suddenly find yourself in a situation you weren’t prepared for, don’t be afraid to trust in the generosity of strangers. You’d be surprised how willing other travelers, as well as locals, are to jump at the chance to help out a new friend.
Now that you’ve accepted your current fate, it’s time to bunker down. It may not be what you were expecting, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! Track down a pack of cards, round up a few people to commiserate with, and strike up a rousing game or two of crazy 8’s. The game could lead some new friends, and a great story. Nearby, guaranteed there will be a few restaurants and bars that will stay open. It’s amazing how candlelight can make a burger and a pint feel so much more cozy.
Feeling a little less social? You’ll have plenty of quality quiet time. If your e-reader kicks out, track down the paper kind and make your way through a good book. Those with a literary flair of their own can take the time to journal, write poetry, or whatever else strikes your fancy. And remember, the dark affects you more at night. During the day, you can still do many of the things you had originally planned to! You can still walk through town, take a tour of that grand palace, take pictures of the monument you wanted to see…you just won’t be able to put them up on Facebook right away.
Initially, not having power can be a huge let down. It’s a setback that can take some adjusting to. But keep your head up! It can be an opportunity to explore your surroundings without the constant buzz of your phone, and get away from your social news feed for a while. After a while, you might actually enjoy the lack of power!