Traveling Through War Torn Countries. How Does It Impact You?

Much can be said about the impact war has on a country but what about the impact on those traveling through?  16 years living and traveling through countries who have spent years in war and countries with years of peace, has given us experiences to be able to answer that question now and prevent you from encountering shocking consequences on your next trip.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Transformer 18

No doubt, war changes people but what’s interesting is that war has a similar impact on every country.

Some commonalities found in those countries impacted by war include:

  1. Decreased empathy toward others in need.
  2. Lack of trust in each other or outsiders.
  3. Stress related disorders
  4. Extreme poverty and extreme wealth
  5. Infrastructure and organizational chaos
  6. Ongoing unmet health needs
  7. Mines or radiation causing injuries years after the war has ended.
Khmer Killing Fields from 1975-1980 killing upwards of 3 million Cambodians by Cambodians

How do you think these issues would impact someone traveling through for a week or a year?

1. The traveler will observe and often be shocked by the contrasts of extreme rich and poor and obvious injustices.

2. Travelers can expect to be approached by beggars that may be even more persistent than usual, not taking no for an answer.

3. As a foreigner, you might notice that there is a lack of trust in either you as the outsider, their own people, or both.

4. Travelers should expect delays in procedures, traffic, and most other business or government dealings as organization most likely has not yet been achieved.


       How has living in a country recently devastated by civil war impacted me and my family here in Cambodia? There are many times that we see the effects of these painful events on those friends who survived. First, we have to fight against dependency in long term relationships. The Khmer we meet have often been without and are looking for a provider to assure their future financially. We have also learned to patiently build trust instead of expecting it. At times even enduring undeserved blame for not being the expected hero, meeting their needs as they perceive they should be met. Lastly, taking on a leadership role that’s patient, kind, and gentle inspite of what the culture says a leader should be. In the past, they were led by harsh demanding leaders and operated out of fear. We teach them a new way that is kind so that they can learn to lead in a way that is kind. 

“Let’s face it–if mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any . . .  wars in the first place.”

SALLY FIELD, acceptance speech at 2007 Emmy Awards

What differences do you see in countries who have endured war compared to those who have not?

Featured image: children during Pol Pot provided by

16 Comments on “Traveling Through War Torn Countries. How Does It Impact You?

  1. Travel can be for many purposes; enjoy the beauty of nature, view art, visit historical sights, and face the realities of these times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s especially positive for the younger generations to travel and see the impact that war. My hope is that children will see and change the future for good!


  2. Whilst I came from Shanghai, the Shanghai of today is a major transformation from the Shanghai of 30 years ago. Remnants remain though, as you’ve highlighted. There is a heightened distrust amongst community, especially between the haves and have nots; the patchwork nature of developments (where you will still see slums next to internationally renowned skyscrapers); not to mention the inherent social unrest and the brain drain to the western worlds.
    You contribution to that society is admirable. And I’m sure that over the years trust has well and truly been earned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jolene! It’s so good to hear from you as you have lived through these changes and have a unique perspective. The injustices we see drive us to lead our friends to a better future where war is well behind us! Bless you and thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A very insightful post. Although I haven’t spent time in a war torn country I can appreciate what you have experienced to be a valid and expected outcome for those ravaged by destruction. To end war, and to bring about change requires enormous dedication to the overall good. I’m reminded of the domino effect, and the fact that this takes time and effort.
    Your sincerity is obvious. I wish you well in what appears to be a deeply ingrained objective to assist those less fortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Carolyn Page. You have made me smile and hope that I live up to your sweet words. I truly believe that happiness comes from a life of investing in what’s best for others. I see that you believe the same as you are working towards helping others to a better future too. Thank you for stopping by and please do come by again


  4. I’ve not lived in a war torn country and it’s only through the media that I feel affected, though the issues you raise I see here too unfortunately. I speak to my kids a lot about life in other countries, how blessed we are here in Australia yet how unbalanced the world appears. Thought provoking post Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

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