I love traveling. I have barely made it home and unpacked my bags when I am already planning my next trip. It is exciting to travel the globe, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Traveling can be just as grueling as it can be rewarding. I have found that traveling is not just one skill, it is many skills combined.
Traveling is a combination of many skills. Below are 8 essential skills every avid traveler has (or should have):
- In-depth research and planning skills,
- Exceptional budgeting skills (the ability to suss out a deal)
- Great time management skills,
- Clear communication skills,
- Excellent networking skills,
- The ability to adapt to change,
- Effective negotiation skills,
- Basic survival skills.
Yup, traveling is a macro skill made up of all the above-mentioned micro-skills! Okay, I just made that up, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Traveling is a skill that is made up of several skills – in my experience and in my opinion. The above-mentioned 8 skills are what I believe every skilled traveler possesses. Want to learn more about the 8 essential skills you should have if you want to enjoy seamless travels? Read on.
8 Essential Skills Every Travel Needs (According to me; a Self-Professed Traveler Aficionado)
Because I travel a lot, I feel that I am in the perfect position to share these skills and tips with you. So, without any further ado, let’s jump right into the 8 essential skills you should have, or do have, as a traveler:
1. In-depth research and planning skills.
When you plan a trip, Google is your ‘best friend’. That is the very first place you start because knowledge is power. And in my opinion, knowing a bit about your destination before you get there is absolutely essential. You will undoubtedly spend many hours researching your destination, trying to find just the right flights as well as looking for activities and sights to see. You are going to be very busy in the months and weeks leading up to your trip, and it is all because of the research and planning involved.
I once went on an international trip and thought I would wing it – big mistake! The trip was a nightmare. Not because I did not have hotels booked (that is easy enough to do while you are traveling), but because I did not know where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see, or how much to budget for my daily spending. Learn from my mistake! If you want to travel like a pro, research and plan as much as you can. And then research and plan some more.
2. Exceptional budgeting skills (the ability to suss out a deal).
Can you even call yourself a globe trotter if you do not know how to budget for a trip? I have not met a well-traveled person, yet, that does not know how to budget.
If you do not have an idea of what things cost in your chosen destination, you might learn a hard lesson. You need to have some idea of what you will pay for hotels, transport, food, drinks, and activities before you even book your flights. The last thing that you want is to max out your credit cards, or find yourself completely strapped for cash in a foreign country. Trust me, I have been there!
The first budgeting task you have is to find a good deal on your flights and accommodation. Shop around as much as possible and compare prices between airlines. Remember that booking direct is not always the cheapest option. You might be able to save quite a fair amount by booking through comparison sites. The more you save on your flight and accommodation bookings, the more spare cash you will have to spend on sightseeing, activities, and delicious meals.
3. Great time management skills.
If you can’t manage your time effectively, you are going to miss flights and run late for tours. You might even find yourself running behind your tour bus, trying to catch up. If you do not have great time management skills while you are traveling, it could end up costing you a lot of money. Some tips for developing better time management skills include:
- Set reminders and alarms on your phone.
- Print out a daily plan/itinerary for your entire trip.
- Check-in online prior to flights.
- Always allow for 15 to 20 minutes of breathing room when booking services to meet you, collect you, etc.
- Always leave early (try to get everywhere you need to be about 15 minutes early).
4. Clear communication skills.
To get what you want when you are traveling, you need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. Most people who travel often have perfected the art of communicating in innovative ways. If you travel to foreign countries often, you might even want to learn a new language. This is a valuable skill that you can use in other areas of your life. You can use an app, such as DuoLingo, to learn just about any language you wish, or you could buy language guides and expand your knowledge.
5. Excellent networking skills.
Another skill that some of the most well-traveled people I know have is that of networking ability.
If you travel often, chances are that you are always meeting new people and interacting with a vast array of personality types. You might meet people in the bar and have drinks with them, you might meet people in the same line of work as you while you are on a tour, or you might meet interesting people in the services departments of the businesses you are dealing with. Regardless of how you meet people, connecting with so many people and forming a widespread network (especially if you keep in touch with them) is a great skill to have.
This particular skill is what makes well-traveled people attractive in job interviews.
6. The ability to adapt to change.
Adaptability is, arguably, one of the most useful skills to have. When plans change on the spur of the moment, do you find yourself caught up in the disappointment or are you able to make the most out of the situation and quickly adjust to the change? If you are, you are adaptable.
People who travel may start out feeling the frustrations of sudden change, but as they become more used to it, they develop the nifty skill of adaptability. Frustration is replaced with acceptance and the person becomes more rounded and well-balanced at the same time.
7. Effective negotiation skills.
When traveling, you can expect to be consistently negotiating, especially if you travel to a developing country.
I remember traveling to a developing country and paying a fee for a moto-taxi to take me from my hotel to the grocery store. I cheerfully paid the driver and went about my business. On catching another one back to the hotel, I was charged a much lower price. Of course, I asked if there had been some sort of mistake. The driver smirked knowingly and told me that I had been “ripped off” by the previous driver.
As it turns out, if you do not negotiate, you are going to get ripped off. It was similar while browsing the markets and looking for little keepsakes. I quickly learned to negotiate while on that trip and it is a skill I have even been able to use when applying for a job! I have noticed that other travelers I meet along the way have also developed this skill. In fact, if you do not want to return home broke, it might be an essential one to learn early on.
8. Basic survival skills.
Basic survival skills when you are away from home are quite useful to have. I have picked up some great survival skills along the way.
I am not talking about Bear-Grylls-style making my way out of a jungle type of survival skills. I am talking about knowing how to save money on food (buy from a local grocery store instead of a restaurant), learning to carry my toothbrush in my hand luggage while traveling, knowing how to select the right affordable transport (taxis are always the most expensive), learning how to read a map, finding out how to use free Wi-Fi everywhere I go, learning how to manage international payment problems, discovering how to sleep in the most awkward position imaginable, knowing how to get through a booze-free flight – the list goes on.
If you find someone who struggles with these things, they probably don’t travel very often.
Brush Up Your Travel Skills and Book Your Next Trip
Of course, you can learn a lot of these travel skills while you are traveling. That is what I did. I was probably very unprepared and “green” when I went on my first trip, and look at me now! If you want to brush up on the skill of traveling, all you really have to do is book your next trip!