Skill sets all travellers should have

You think you need to be organized, you think you need to be disciplined, and you think you need to be frugal to be a traveller. Those are all true, but there are other skill sets that you should really try to equip yourself with to enjoy any and all kinds of travels

Swimming

Egypt 082(Jumping in for a quick swim – Dahab, Egypt)

How many times have you gone on a nature hike or a group trip to a waterfall on a hot summer day or to a beach getaway and thought to yourself, “Man, I would love to just have a dip in there.” For those who can’t really swim, you could always choose to do what I call the Octopus swim (pretty much just sit or stand and let your arm and head bob around) or to sit right at the edge of the lake or sea. But you’re missing out on so much by not learning how to swim, including the possibilities of going kayaking or white water rafting on a wonderful river.

Cycling

Beijing 2011 289(Enjoying a bike tour in the hutongs – Beijing, China)

This skill isn’t just particular to the Dutch. When travelling, you could invariably have options to just walk around or join a tour group in an air-conditioned van or bus. But don’t rule out seeing a place on two wheels. You get a beautiful slow motion view, you can pretty much start and stop wherever you want, head wherever you want to go (and not necessarily where cars can make its way through) and you can feel the breeze in your hair while doing your fair share of ‘exercising’ whilst on vacation.

Running

Run

(Choose your reason for running wisely)

I’m not trying to push this on you just because I like to go for a run. I personally find this a necessary skill; but I don’t mean just strapping on your shoes and going for a round around the park. No, I mean being able to haul arse with a giant backpack on your back to catch that last train for the weekend that you were five minutes late for. I’m talking about being able to break into an immediate sprint should you feel yourself in danger, I’m talking about massive mileage in high heels should someone try to chase you down.

Debating (Bargaining)

Kanchanaburi Weekend 225(Be prepared to bargain in Chatuchak market, Bangkok)

Travel will make even the most introvert come out of their shell. Even the shy would need to learn to hone this skill as to not get gypped/ ripped off in an open market/ carpet store/ trinket shop. Most shops or market stalls in Asia require you to bargain. If you really can’t work this skill out (with a smile no less), then be prepared to pay a huge markup in prices. Especially if you clearly ‘look’ like a tourist.

Navigating

_DSC3545(We get some navigational help from our travel mascots – Buenos Aires, Argentina)

In a world filled with technology, people become more and more dependent on things like smart phones, GPS and google maps to move around. I get it, I too sometimes end up doing exactly the same. But then what happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere and have no 3G connection or Wireless, or even crazier, no cell phone service at all. What do you do? Learning how to read a map is important, but sharpening your navigation skill (i.e. remembering how many turns leads to where, or where your hotel is in context of the church you are visiting) is essential. For your own safety, you should always at least look like you know exactly where you’re going. For your own sanity, you should actually know where you’re going.

Patience

_DSC4412(Much patience needed. Finding out Teatro Colon was closed for tours. With magic friend Peggy! from Takingtotheopenroad.com)

The mother of all skill sets a traveller needs to have in their arsenal. Things will invariably not go your way. Hotel bookings will disappear, flights may get delayed or cancelled and the waiter may have no idea what you just ordered. But remind yourself, this is part and parcel of travelling, and part of parcel of learning a new country. Try to keep an open mind and an open heart on the imperfection of others and try to take it all in stride. After all, what is an adventure without a few obstacles thrown in your way. It will make the journey all the more memorable.

These are the skills that I’ve found serves me well in all my travels. Any other skill sets you think are essential to a traveller? Let me know below!
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