13 November 2015

Top things to learn before you travel


Lots of people blog about their travels. However, good bloggers are as rare as a self-effacing Kardashian. Do a travel blogging or writing course before your big trip, and your posts will be infinitely more entertaining than the usual "I went here and ate this" kind of stuff you normally see. You could even make money from it! Plenty of people now are generating a reasonable income from their travel blog, which means you can too - if you can write well enough. A decent course will also help you market your blog which is essential if you want to make money from it (or "monetize" as the irritating cool people say). 


If you're like 99.9% of travellers, you think that taking photos of plane wings and sunsets on your phone is an acceptable record of your travels. It's not. A photography course will not only teach you how to take decent pictures, but will also help you learn what's worth photographing - which isn't always obvious! At worst, you'll end up with a beautiful and interesting record of your trip - and if you get really good, you can sell your photos (or use them to attract more people to your blog).

How to sleep anywhere

Being able to have a kip anywhere is a skill you can learn - and it's brilliant for travelling. You may well end up sharing a bus, dorm or tent with Lady Shriek, Mr Phone-Glued-To-His-Ear and the Captain of Extremely Loud Snoring. So being able to sleep through all that is important, otherwise you'll be too tired to enjoy the next day's shenanigans. To get some practice in now, find your noise-cancelling headphones, a dull podcast, and try to have a sleep in the next noisy place you can. Practice makes perfect, and soon you'll be able to drop off anywhere!

6 chords on the guitar

It's highly likely that somewhere on your travels, there'll be a guitar knocking around. With only 6 chords, you can strum loads of well-known tunes for you and your fellow travellers or locals to sing along to, and you'll be instantly popular. The beauty of the guitar is that you don't have to be very competent to knock out a decent, recognisable tune, and it's an easy skill to pick up (I expect one of your mates could teach you). Just remember: you will make no friends with Coldplay songs.

Some basic football / rugby facts

Even if you hate sport, it's a good way of connecting with people - especially when there's a language barrier. Football is popular throughout the world and you only need to know a few names of players or teams to start a conversation (which you can hopefully turn to something else once your ignorance starts to show). If, like many career breakers, you are planning to go through Australia and New Zealand, a bit of rugby knowledge will get you far. Sadly, decent sport has yet to make much of an impact in the USA, except for women's football, so stick with that.

First aid

This is really for other people rather than you, as you can't perform the Heimlich manoeuvre or CPR on yourself. However, you'll be doing other people a favour if you know basic first aid, and if you manage to keep someone alive until an ambulance arrives, you'll be a hero. Also, if you travel with a mate and you both do a first aid course, you'll be in safer hands than if you're with someone who can't even put a plaster on properly.

Basic vocabulary of the places you're visiting

A few words of the local language will get you really far - it just opens a door if locals see you're making an effort. Words like "please", "thank you" and "hello" are great, as are numbers (for haggling!). If the language of your destination is obscure, you'll stand out even more by learning a few words, and this will make the difference between you and the traveller who doesn't get invited to someone's house.

Tricks (card or party)

Everyone ends up playing card games when they travel, so a pack of cards is easy to come by. Knowing a card trick or two is an easy way to wow your new friends - and is a great way to cross a language barrier. As a bonus, if there are any children about, a few card tricks will entertain them long enough to stop them rummaging through your stuff. Party tricks can do the same in the absence of cards - just make sure they're not massively lame and don't require any special equipment. You are an entertaining cool traveller, not David Blaine (for which you can thank your lucky stars).


Is there anything else you think you should learn before you go travelling? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook and we'll share your tips with the world!

[Header image: Dave Heuts]