With the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of overseas travel has been put on hold. Since regulations have been keeping us at home, many of us have found ourselves looking for ways to pass the time. With this newfound time surplus, there is no better time to start learning some new skills, particularly those that will help you in your future travels.
As enjoyable as travelling is, it can be a stressful endeavour if you visit an unfamiliar area. Being unable to communicate with the locals or getting lost are legitimate concerns for any tourist. There are several skills that you can pick up to minimise the chance of these issues happening. Some of these will take a significant amount of time to learn well, so it is best to start early.
This is a no-brainer. Not every country has a fluent English-speaking population. If you are planning to visit one of these countries, it will benefit you greatly to learn how to read, speak and understand their national language, at least at a basic level. As important as prior research is, it cannot prepare you for every situation. Locals will always have a deeper understanding of the area, whether it be the best restaurants in town or the places to avoid for your safety.
While it is possible to get by with just knowing a few stock phrases, foundational knowledge of the language can make talking to the locals much easier. Besides, having conversations with the locals can be an enriching experience in and of itself. What better way to immerse in the culture than to discuss it with the people who live and breathe it every day?
Finding your way around can be difficult, especially if you have never visited the place before. Learning how to navigate your way around unfamiliar areas can be a useful skill to pick up. While we take Google Maps and other GPS-based apps for granted, they are not fool-proof. Recent changes in infrastructure or a lack of updates in rural areas can sometimes cause inaccuracies in the mapping. There is also the worst-case scenario where you realise your phone has run out of battery.
Some countries also have complex transport systems, like overlapping train lines and complicated bus transfers. It would be optimal to plan out your routes before you even fly over, and read up about how these transport systems work. If you are visiting certain popular areas, you could also look up travel vloggers to see if they have any videos you could use to familiarise yourself with the location.
First aid is important for any traveller, regardless of the country you are planning to visit. Emergencies can happen under any circumstances, so it is best to be prepared, both for yourself and your travel mates. Several official training programmes in Singapore can train and certify you in basic first aid. These courses equip you with the knowledge you need to handle the most common medical issues, like heart attack, bleeding, and fractures.
While these skills can be life-saving, more severe cases often require medical evacuation to a hospital. There are even times when the patient needs to be transferred to another country entirely for specialised treatment. Through normal modes of transport, it may take a much longer duration to arrive at the medical site in time, which is why an air ambulance will be more effective in both monitoring the patient and reaching the destination in time.
Some trips involve activities that require a minimum level of skill, like trekking or wildlife photography. While it would be hard to put these skills into practice, given that we have to stay home for our safety, there are alternative ways to develop them without leaving the house.
For example, if you live in an apartment building, you can consider climbing staircases to simulate trekking. This not only helps you build up muscle and stamina but also lets you practice proper climbing techniques to minimise the impact on your legs. As for photography, there are several tutorials online that provide excellent advice. You can also familiarise yourself with the optimal camera settings so you can jump right in once you are there.
While these skills can time a long time to master, the results can be well worth it. Of course, there are many other specific skills you could learn to better prepare yourself for an overseas trip. Exercise your best judgement in deciding which skills you want to prioritise. Aside from skills, it is also essential to know who to contact when you require assistance. EMA Global has several medical and travel assistance schemes which can help you in your time of need, including air ambulance, evacuation and repatriation services.