Brush up on your travel literacy: understand how the travel industry works and be aware of other cultures and customs.

Travel literacy falls into two broad categories: understanding how the travel industry works with its often arcane rules and restrictions; and being aware of other cultures and customs.

A vast majority of misunderstandings with airlines, hotels and cruise lines end with travellers admitting they failed to review the terms of their purchase. That’s how they ended up with, say, a non-refundable hotel room or a restrictive timeshare. 

The more you travel, the more you understand how the system works.

People who claim they can teach you the ins and outs of the travel industry, and make you more travel-literate with a simple course are probably exaggerating - there’s nothing like being there.

So let’s talk about the second part of travel literacy, which is looking more like a citizen of the world than someone who’s never crossed a county line. Read a book - the right travel book can educate, inspire and enlighten.e.

Find your affinity group on social media

Spend time on Facebook’s travel groups connecting with new friends and learn new travel skills. 

Watch a movie or documentary

While some movies can have gross misrepresentations of cultures and people, there are still an incredible amount of quality films and documentaries that give an authentic sense of place, context and history to wherever your travels may lead next,” says Ashley Blake, founder of Traverse Journeys. She cites the 10-part documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick as an example. The series, she says, “took a deep dive into the complexities of a place to help you appreciate the culture and perspective you’ll encounter while there”.

Learn a language

An app like Duolingo is a great way to brush up on your language skills before you travel.  “Phrases like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, counting and asking basic travel questions.

Take a virtual trip

Downloads maps of the destination on your phone, also download the top-rated transit apps of the destination. A competent tour operator can handle everything from hotel reservations to meals, so you can have a destination worry-free.

But there’s no substitute for on-the-ground travel experience.