by Edgar van der Meer
5 Essential Skills You Develop While You Travel
It is amazing how much you can learn by spending a few months on the road. While some label travelling as an excuse to float around the world doing nothing, this really couldn’t be further from the truth. Without even thinking about it, you develop a huge amount when you travel. You encounter situations that are completely alien and have to learn quickly how to adjust to them. This requires a great level of mental flexibility and skill and, best of all, you probably don’t even realise you’re doing it.
If you are worried that your brain will turn to mush if you travel or that you won’t have anything to show for it afterwards, think again. Here are five of the numerous skills you develop while you are on the road.
Whether you travel on your own or in a group, you will always encounter other people on the road. Talking to strangers is not something most of us feel comfortable with. It has been bred out of us since the advent of smart phones. Why take the potential risk of rejection or awkwardness when you can tap away without a care in the world? But, striking up conversations with people from different walks of life is an extremely valuable skill and it can easily be fine-tuned while you travel.
It would be very naïve to think that nothing will go wrong while you travel. Buses are missed, hostels are full, people get scammed – there is no end to the things that could interfere with your plan. Learning how to react in these kinds of situations is highly transferrable to all aspects of life. When you encounter a problem, you need to be able to resolve it quickly and you will get plenty of practice of this when you travel.
Unless you only ever travel to other English speaking countries, you will come up against language barriers. These can seem daunting at first and it is unlikely you will leave your stint in Koh Samui speaking fluent Thai. You will, however, come away with at least a few words if you put your mind to it. Having language skills can only ever be a good thing and who knows, if you spend enough time in Mexico, your Spanish might get good enough to put on your CV.
When you are travelling you don’t have your parents or a wide support network there to help you out. You have to do everything on your own. This means keeping yourself fed and watered, finding places to do your laundry, and organising your own itinerary. The freedom is liberating but it can also be challenging. Nevertheless, once you’ve successfully travelled independently, you’ll feel like there’s nothing you can’t do.
Cultural Sensitivity Skills
It is one thing to read about a country in a history book or on Wikipedia, but it is another thing entirely to see it in person. Encountering people from different cultures and understanding how they function as a society will enhance your cultural sensitivity. It will make you more capable of working alongside people from different backgrounds in the future and broaden your mind.