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What is Travel Literacy?
What I call "travel literacy" means essentially how smart you are as a traveler.
Passion for travel, money and being able to back smart doesn't means much. A real traveler requires more profound knowledge.
Essentially, travel literacy includes skills and personal characteristics, which make true travelers vastly more sophisticated than the common leisure-seeking tourist.
Travel literacy is vital, but it alone won't make you a real traveler.
Source: © iStock.com/allanswart
Here are 10 skills that are all ingredients of what I call travel literacy.
You may be proficient at some, but do a bit less knowledgeable at others.
#1 Excellent knowledge of geography
An it's profound knowledge that's important. It goes beyond the mere facts.
You'll also need to know things about regional cultures, attractions, climate.
Good visual- and name memory and a lot of patience are required to develop this skill.
Geography skills also help a traveler finding his/her way around.
#2 Foreign language skills
Obviously, English speakers are the luckiest, but in some parts of the World, not even the most popular foreign language will help you.
So, you should master at least another language.
Which one, depends on where you'd like to travel and which language attracts you more.
On a global scale, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Italian are among the most widely-spoken (also as a foreign language).
If you travel to Hispanic-America with null Spanish knowledge, you're dead.
#3 Be a good financial planner
Much of travel success resides in financial efficiency.
If you are good with your personal finances, it will help you better enjoy your trips.
Travel is not so much about how much money you have, but how you organize your spendings.
You must know how to spend your last nickel and organize trips according to tight budgets.
You must set your own rules, limits. And respect your own spending rules.
Having a lot of money and being a big spender is not a skill. Idiots can do that too.
#4 Have good packing skills
You don't have to take the entire house with you. Your teddy bear can stay home and ladies - don't take the entire wardrobe with you.
Don't just pack less, pack smart. Less objects won't make you more efficient, you may still lack something vital.
Multi-purpose items can help pack lighter without sacrificing functionalities.
But I admit... I am not one of those ultra light packers. No over-packer either, but a sophisticated one and passionate about gadgets and accessories.
#5 Good interpersonal skills
If you can communicate well with others, especially when it comes to people belonging to other cultures, then you will find it a lot easier to get along with complete strangers while traveling.
#6 Excellent memory
You'll have to keep in mind a lots and lots of things like: foreign place and persons' names, schedules, prices and exchange rates, streets you've walked on and it even helps if you can memorize par of the map.
#7 Good sense of orientation, using maps and other tools
It interlinks with the good memory and the geography skills. Have both and you will find your way around in any labyrinth!
Personally, I almost never get lost. In fact, I tend to enjoy it when I do get lost a bit. And it's funny to see how easily some people get lost.
Places like Tokyo and Marrakech did put my sense of orientation to the test: I got lost. Twice in the Medina of Marrakech (but who wouldn't get lost there?) and once in Tokyo.
You must be able to read a map. It's amazing how many people can't read maps and they spend ages trying to interpret them.
A real traveler should also know to use a compass or how to find their way around in the wilderness.
Survival videos like the ones by Bear Grylls can teach us a lot.
#8 Photography skills
Don't just push the button to take a photo. Anyone can do that.
Understand your camera's specifications, learn about lenses and techniques for taking photos. Additionally, you may want to master photo editing skills.
#9 Being well-documented about your destination(s)
While a vacationer has superficial or no information about his/her target destination, but a real traveler must have more than basic knowledge prior to departure.
Geography, culture, customs and laws, main attractions, information about the respective country even beyond your target destination, information about the transportation system and even a few words, expressions in the local language would come in handy.
Knowing your destination(s) before departing means profound knowledge, superficially reading a few lines and check the basic facts.
#10 Basic medical skills
It's vital to have skills related to healthcare, you must be able to know how to treat various conditions: from muscle aches to indigestion, from food-caused infections to eye exhaustion.
Do you know how to repel mosquitoes? Do you know what to do if joint pain causes you discomfort? Do you know the side-effects of aspirine? Do you know what to do if a snake bites you?
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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