Whilst everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, if you’ve chosen the path of a nomad or an expat, there are some skills which can be learned and developed. These skills may help you adapt quicker, immerse yourself in the culture of the people you live amongst and make the journey that much easier. Here are some skills I think all travellers should cultivate…
1. The ability to sleep anywhere
This may sound like a fickle thing, but believe me when I tell you that a 10 hour flight plus 5 hour layover in an airport, followed by an hour ferry ride and final taxi transfer will seem like a ride to hell unless you’ve caught some shut eye. My husband says I fall asleep as soon as the mode of transport gets moving. I consider this a gift. I also recall many a time when I’ve had to pass out on cold, hard airport floors. Not fun at all, but way better than moving around like zombie for the rest of your journey. Practice falling asleep in different places such as boats, airplanes, airport benches and buses. If not, buy sleeping pills…natural ones.
2. Learn essential phrases in any language.
Not everyone has the gift of languages, but when you’re in a new country and plan to spend some time there, learning the basics of the mother tongue will go a long way. Practice key words and phrases like “Please, Thank You, How much and How are you?” It will go a long way to make the locals feel like you’re at least trying to learn their language instead of expecting them to know English. Plus in Thailand, speaking some Thai halves the prices you’ll have to pay. Speak and listen to children, they are the best teachers. Or find the audio guides online which you can listen to whilst on your scooter, the train or as you’re attempting to sleep on a ferry.
3. Eat anything
I must admit, I struggle with this and happen to be quite a fussy eater. Depending on where you travel, you will not always find what you love, let alone what you can afford. If I wasn’t so addicted to coffee, life would be simpler for me on the road. But come the morning, if there is not some form of coffee (good coffee) I’m not such a happy chappy. What I should be able to do is just drink tea, hot chocolate or fruit juice. Eating also forms a big part of the exploration in each country, so why not let go of your comfort foods and favourites and dive into the lessor-known delicacies like grasshoppers? This is no joke; they are quite crunchy and taste rather like salty crisps.
4. Pack lightly
Women in particular, may find this quite a challenge. I always promise to pack lighter for the next trip and end up hating myself whilst hauling a heavy bag up stairs or across uneven ground (ok, maybe my husband helps a bit). Even if you’re leaving home for a long time, pack simply. It’s better to buy items of clothing and toiletries there. The longer you stay somewhere, the more you’ll accumulate and have to throw/give away when you leave. You’ll be able to lift and store your luggage with ease. I’m yet to find a way to pack less than 3 pairs of shoes though.
5. The art of navigation
This is where I come out strong, well that was until I got married. I could walk along paths and through alley ways only once and be able to find my way back home. I could establish the quickest route by complicated transport systems and always find my way. Now before we even reach a destination, my husband has mapped out our entire journey on Google maps. He will tell me where the nearest station is, how long it will take us by scooter and which road we first meandered through. For now, you could say that my directional skills are dormant. If this is not your strong suite, get a phone that always has reliable wifi and Google map it.
Which skills have you found rather handy whilst travelling?
All photos are my own and subject to copyright.