Apart from time, some money, and an open mind, the act of traveling doesn’t really require much from the traveler. Still, there’s always an incident where I find myself saying “I wish I knew how to do that”. Here are some skills I wish I learned before I started traveling:
Tying knots. I used to think that knots were mostly for scouts – until I was forced to deal with an uncooperative clothesline. For clear instructions on how to tie knots, visit AnimatedKnots.com. Apart from having an animated tutorial, the knots are categorized based on use – such as boating, camping, and home use.
First aid. From stomach pains after an unusual meal to a sprained ankle while hiking, there’s no shortage of situations where you’ll need a bit of first aid knowledge. The Mayo Clinic website and Health World both list emergency first aid procedures. Nothing beats a real-life demonstration so attend a first aid class or workshop, if you can. Keep in mind that first aid is only emergency care. It’s not a substitute for a licensed doctor’s help.
Map and compass reading. While many writers have said that the best part of travel is getting lost, too much of it can be an inconvenience. No matter how adventurous you are, there’s always the odd situation where you need to find your way back. This is where reading a map and a compass comes in. This PDF file from Britain’s Ordnance Survey discusses the basics of map reading. As for using a compass, the Learn Orienteering site has several illustrated lessons.
Camping. If done right, camping can prove to be a cheaper and more exciting accommodation alternative when you’re traveling. Of course, this depends on the campsite, your level of experience, and your expectations. For a beginner’s guide to camping, check out Go-Camping.org, Love the Outdoors and Smart Camping Guide. Local state parks also often have camping workshops. For me, the most intensive way to learn is to go on trips with friends or relatives who are already experienced campers.
What other skills proved to be valuable during your trips? Share them with us in the comments.