Traveling is as much about experiencing new modalities of life and learning new skills on the way. You are improving your personality every time you step outside of your comfort zone and experience new and exciting things.
When I moved to Norway I was forced to learn Norwegian because my colleagues did not speak any English. When I traveled to Bulgaria, I had to learn how to live on cucumbers and cabbage on daily basis, when I went to Romania, I learned how to hitchhike. Traveling makes you learn new things wherever you go.
That said, there are some skills you really want to learn before you hit the road. Here, I am going to look at a few of the talents that will benefit you most, and some tools you can make use of along the way.
1. Navigation and research
I am the worst when it comes to navigation. I can get lost in my own backyard. I have been lost in the mountains in Austria, I have been lost in the middle of Amsterdam and I have been lost in my own district. And most of the times I don’t mind it. I love to wander around and find new places. But it is no fun when you are late for your flight or when you get lost in the mountains when it starts to get dark. No. Fun. At. All.
So learn how to get to places. Unless you have the money to hire guides all the way, you’re going to be in charge of setting your own course and finding your own fun. There are plenty of websites and blogs that list interesting things about every location you can hope to visit, but there are a few tools you should keep in mind like for example online travel guide databases like WIKITRAVEL. As you might have guessed, it is basically a Wikipedia for travelers. These kinds of sites welcome submissions from everyone, meaning they are the cumulative knowledge of not just one traveler, but a whole host of them. You can use these sites as a jumping off point for your own exploration.
2. Time management
If you love to scout out cheap tickets, you might end up on very short 3 to 4 day trips. This means you won’t be able to visit all the places you would like to see, but you can still decide your top destinations and go go go!
If you’re traveling on a schedule, you only have so much time to explore as you like. For that reason, you should try to write down your plans so that you would get the most out of your trips. As this is the 21st century, there are apps for pretty much anything. So it might be the right time to try out some travel planning apps. Get used to creating loose itineraries that allow you to prioritize the sights and attractions you want to experience most while leaving room open for exploration.
Above all else, make sure that you always have a plan to arrive at the airport or train station ahead of time. That’s if you want to make sure to get home. Delays in transportation can be the traveler’s worst enemy.
Even if you’re traveling alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. In fact, for some the feelings of isolation are the unexpected trouble that can cut most journeys short. Get used to socializing in foreign places. Sometimes it is a good idea to stick to safe, well-lit, public spaces and mind your own drinks and belongings to stay safe, but don’t be afraid to talk to people you meet in hostels, cafes, or bars. In fact, most of my favorite travel memories come from meeting the locals. I have been a part of a random music band on the stage, I have been invited to countless family dinners and even taken on a day trip to Parma city which made me feel like I own a whole city since it has the same name as my surname. The world is an amazing place and there are so many lovely people out there. Don’t be afraid to get to know them!
If you prefer to meet people online, there are apps you can use to connect with other travelers to swap tips and stories, too. Your friendships may be fleeting, but they can be an invaluable part of the trip. Stay adventurous!
4. Money management
I have always been all about Couchsurfing kind of travel: staying with locals, getting to know the culture and not knowing the next step. But money management is still an essential part of your travels because you can end up in the situation where your card is declined and you cannot get to the airport. Then it is all up to faith and good heart of others. (Yes, it happened to me once.) Otherwise, you can miss your flight.
But still setting up your budget, handling debt responsibly, and knowing how to save money on the road are all important. From finding the cheapest flights and accommodation to being able to source travel passes that can help you experience more of a destination for less, you have to know how to scrimp and save.
In crisis situations, you have to do what you have to do. You either stay and work for locals until you save enough to get home or you have to get a loan. Avoiding debt isn’t always possible and you need to know your ways out, too. If there is no other choice you can do a quick google search or use such tools like https://debtconsolidation.loans/debt-consolidation-loans-bad-credit/ who can help you make it manageable. A lot of people tend to overspend on traveling. As well as learning how to avoid it, you need to know how to deal with it when it happens.
Above all else, responsibility is the defining trait of the solo traveler. You are in charge of your decisions, how you spend your time, and how you acclimate to new environments. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, you might need to broaden your horizons a little more slowly.
Happy travels and keep on exploring!
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