More than 13 months ago, I jumped into a new life:
I left my comfortable apartment in Montreal, get rid of most of my stuff and took the road.
And, I began my journey as a perpetual solo traveler, with one backpack as my only possession and the intention to explore the world and record as many sounds as possible!
Now after 13 months and 25 countries explored, I decided to introspect my experience through various angles, that will take the form of blog posts.
I will review, analyse and formulate some kind of self-guidance.
in this first post, I focus on depicting the top difficulties I encountered, … and there are many.
Since I started my nomadic journey I passed by 4 continents, 25 countries, & 107 cities.
Travelling that much with equipment, and working goals, is not a tranquil flow. Everything that I own in this world is on my back!
I was so excited when I started, and the idea of this nomadic lifestyle sounded so fabulous, free, and enjoyable.
However through this experience, I encountered lots of obstacles and difficulties which I had to cope with, I listed the 18 most challenging ones:
Delays or Unplanned Transportation Changes!Delayed bus, train on maintenance, canceled plane,… This is a recurring struggle when travelling, particularly if you have planned connections, or booked accommodations ahead, which I tend to do at least 1 week or 2 weeks in advance.
Cascade ImpactIf transport got delayed, it can impact a whole week of planning. Everything you planned in advance will be impacted and you’ll have to adjust all the schedule. This can be really frustrating, and can cost a lot of money, if you already paid.
FatiguePassing through these unexpected circumstances will put physical and mental strain. Waiting 2 hours more is inconvenient, and if you travel with heavy luggage, it is likely that you will have to stay in uncomfortable postures for long times. Sometimes you don’t know what is going on, or don’t know where to go, what to do. Maybe they will have to replace the engine of the bus, (and you will have to stay one night in an unknown tiny village with no money??).
For me, Bolivia was a real pain, as the transportation system is really chaotic with delays and unplanned changes occurring all the time.
SolutionsIt’s almost impossible to avoid these contingencies, it can happen anywhere anytime, in poorest countries it will happen more often. If you can spend a little more money with a better travel/bus/airline company it might help. But you’re never immune from these unexpected changes. the advice I can formulate, is to be always prepared to stay longer than planned, give some leeway to the schedule! Stay chill, no matter what, don’t get angry, it won’t change anything. Always have some activities prepared, in case you have to be in ‘wait’ mode (books, podcast,…). Also getting stuck to one place can be an excellent opportunity to record more sounds, from another angle, or another time of the day!
Not knowing what’s going on can happen very often, you can simply ask the employees of the company if they know when or what is going on with bus/plane/train. If there is no one from the company available, ask the people around, thus knowing some of the local language is preferable.
Getting SickWhile travelling, we are more exposed to germs, and possible viruses. It is inevitable that we will get sick at some point. For few years now, I put my health as my top first priority in life, this has helped me to stay in shape, but also to stay mentally focused. However, the healthy habits I did put in place are difficult to follow while travelling. Depending on the location, infrastructure, weather, travel schedule, it can be impossible for me to do my routine exercise or eat correctly. As a consequence I got sick many times. In Morocco I was completely dying for 2 weeks (with the biggest fever I ever had in my life), in India I got hard digestion system problems (had to go to toilet every 20 minutes). In Brasil I got a virus I don’t even know but I was unable to move any of my body for 2 days, and many more… indeed I strengthened my health priority even more! Here are the issues, and possible solutions to improve health conditions while travelling:
HygienePassing through regions that have issues with hygiene, usually third-world countries, is a risk for health. Poor sanitation, bad management of waste, and local culture that is not oriented to cleanliness, will contribute to proliferation of germs. Everything you can touch may be a risk (doors, buttons, money,…)
Food & WaterIt is more than probable to encounter food issue, even in developed countries. Bad food combination, non-tolerant or allergic people have to be more than cautious. Spices can destroy a stomach. Some restaurants try to re-purpose the food rest from the day before, avoiding waste and cutting costs, though leading to food poisoning.
The quality of our diet directly impact the state of our health. Eating varied nutriments, not over-sugared, or fat-saturated is primordial to stay healthy, but in some places it is really difficult as everything is processed and any healthy option is over-priced. Water is even more at stake as it is the basis of life. Tap water has to be dealt cautiously. In some countries it is so bad, specialists say you shouldn’t even wash your teeth with it. I was astonished to find that bottled water was most of the time the only alternative.
Air PollutionThe quality of air is a great factor to take into account. If you breath polluted air for a long period it can result in severe consequences. Saturated air is difficult to breath. For example, when I was in Tbilisi Georgia, I found myself breathing really bad air all over the city, I couldn’t go out for a jogging, this is a heavy problem for this city.
AltitudeArriving at 3600m altitude at LaPaz in Bolivia, my body was confronted to a challenge I didn’t expect, altitude sickness, it was even stronger few hours later when I arrived to 4000m, I got bad headache and couldn’t sleep, with a really thin breath. It seems everyone experience altitude differently, and in some cases it can lead to really bad consequences, up to death.
SolutionsHealth is important for everybody. Bad conditions will lead to long term consequences, or short term manifestation as ‘Getting Sick’. Many advice can be given.
Regarding hygiene I found useful to always have hand sanitizer on me, so I can avoid bad bacteria I get in touch with.
About food, I would say wherever possible try to avoid doubtful food, which will be likely encountered in country like India. Read ingredients composition if available, avoid over-saturated food with sugar or fat. Have healthy diet, for this you can get the help of a nutritionist.
About water, get information about the place you visit beforehand, and if tap water is not advised as drinkable, get bottled water, or refill from tank reservoir. Alternatively it exists various methods to disinfect tap water, see here some ways to do it.
Protect yourself from polluted area by using a scarf or mask on your nose.
Altitude sickness must be planned ahead, verify the altitude of your destination, if it is more than 2500m, give 1 or 2 days to your body to get acclimate. It exists oxygen shots you can get to help breathe. Bolivian and Peruvian use Coca leaf tea, that will help with the symptom. Talk to a doctor to find some solutions if nothing work.
As a general rule of thumb, it is important to cherish your body, your mind will thank you! Regular exercise is a key component to a healthy life. For example, you can set a 1h routine every morning including a 3 to 5 km jogging (which is easy and can be done anywhere), or a simple walk around the block, or muscle exercise. If you don’t know how, meet a physicist which will help put in place an efficient routine. Everywhere you go, you can find some kind of ‘gym’ (exercising room with various machines), this has been really helpful to me when weather was not friendly for an outdoor run, or if air was too polluted. It is not about forcing yourself, but to put good habits in practice. However everyone is different, I think the most important is to do what feels right to you.
Rain/SnowIt happens that in some places rain can pour down from big sunny sky in only 10 minutes. I found out that the more tropical the climate is, the more unstable the weather can be. Rain can ruin a recording, it can ruin a day or ruin an entire week. Sound recording under rain condition might be possible with some special equipment but needs to be planned ahead. And apart from recording the sound of the rain, there is nothing else that will make it for a clean take. If rain or snow persist, it can cause flood and isolation due to impracticable roads.
WindWind condition is for me the primary fulcrum of a successful field recording!! It will greatly impact the quality and the output of a take. Unless, you’re expressly after wind sounds, it is always better to have NONE wind, or the least possible.
TemperatureNot only extreme temperatures will impact the human body condition, it can impact the gear working condition. Too cold temperatures will freeze everything, too hot will melt or overheat the equipment. Humidity factor also needs to be taken in account as it will shift our appreciation of the temperature, and can also damage some gear.
SolutionsBefore planning any trips, check the weather forecast. However forecasts are not always true! In Paraguay for example, the actual weather was almost inverse of the forecast. If the trip period is too extended, you can alternatively check the yearly average weather, which can give a good idea of what to expect. Don’t forget to watch out for the wind forecast too!
Act accordingly, find appropriate clothes, adapt the gear to the conditions. Try to use microphones that resist to humidity (see the blog post about nt45-o). Get some serious wind protection for your mics. It exists many windshield solutions! The 2 most respected company are: Rycote and Cinela
Noise PollutionAny sound recording activity involves fighting against the odd, unwanted noises that can arise anytime anywhere. Some are unavoidable whatever you try, others can be avoided with some methods.
The InescapableIt is really difficult to predict where, when, and what kind of sound will waste our recording! Some sounds sometimes can’t be avoided. For example impromptus motors from plane, boat, bike, dog barks, unexplained electrical humm, birds chirps, loud cicadas,… These represent the same challenges as the ones during a film shoot. If these sounds are only ephemeral, just waiting or restarting the recording might be the only way to deal with them. If they are omnipresent, you can plan another recording session or if you got time, move to another location, or try another day, or identify what sound it is, and assess if it can be dealt as ‘escapable’ sound:
The EscapableWith some minimum research and planning, it is possible to avoid some kind of unwanted noises. For example, if you try to record pristine nature, just choose a location away from any roads, house, or human structure (at least 3 to 5 km away). If you’re looking to record outside without birds, try a low season for migratory species, and a time of the day when they are less active (possibly around noon, or during the night). If you hear an electric buzz or hum, try to plan how to temporary turn off any machinery or electrical circuitry during the time of the recording.
Not all sounds are predictable and that what makes the beauty of soundscape, however some sounds are deemed unpleasant or unwanted. The more research and planning involved in a project, the more it will be possible to predict and avoid these unwanted noise inside your recording!
In some countries, only using English worked fine for me (ex: Iceland, Budapest, Thailand). But in general, not speaking the official language from the place will close many doors, and will possibly put you in very bad positions.
the Bugs that love you! ❤Going around places, and close to nature, means that you will likely find many little creatures, insects, reptiles. It is particularly true in tropical weather. For example in the Pantanal (wetland area of Brasil), even though using repellent I had thousands of mosquitoes that decided I was their lunch, as a result I had entire zones made of thousands of mosquitoes bites.
General Unpleasant SensationGetting bitten, or just knowing of the insects presence can trigger an uncomfortable sensation. The annoying whining of mosquitoes during the night is likely to ruin your sleep time…
Danger on Health!Some insects are more dangerous! In some region, mosquitoes can carry very risky diseases (malaria, dengue, yellow fever,…). Some ants are also very dangerous like the fire ants, or the Bulldog ants. In the Northern hemisphere, ticks are well spread and can carry the famous Lyme disease. Some people are allergic to some insects and can develop really serious reaction in the aftermath of a bite. Snake bites are also well know for being venomous at times.
It’s a wild world out there!! There have been more than 900,000 species of insects discovered, and more than 10,000 reptile species, and many of them are potentially dangerous.
Here an interesting list of the 27 most dangerous bugs
SolutionsGetting to know the environment you’re about to visit is important. The fauna, Flora and potential bugs threats are something to bear in mind. Having the help of local guides can be very beneficial to avoid risks. Don’t forget insects repellent, and put it anywhere the skin can be exposed, even beneath tee-shirts. In some cases, it exists special clothe suit that help cover the entire body and prevent any potential bites. Get your vaccines for all the possible diseases. If you stay in a camp, you can burn some flavored essence that will repel any flying intruder.
Also, don’t freak out too much!! Insects and reptiles are almost everywhere, it is impossible to get rid of them, they are part of this beautiful world, and are necessary for the whole ecosystem to work harmoniously! Hopefully, most of them are not dangerous and only annoying! Freaking out too much can ruin a recording take by your movements. Don’t be overwhelmed, and focus your mind on something more productive.
WiFi!How could I work without wifi? This is one pinnacle of my daily routine, I need a connection and a good connection. Everyday I need to manage my online sounds, answer emails, check if everything’s fine, upload sounds, speak with colleague or family,…
How it hurtsThis has been the source of many frustrations, for example in Jaipur, India, I searched all around the city for many days, but there were no way, all connections were slow. Same thing happened in Bariloche, Patagonia. It exists tools that can help to find the good spot, coffee or workspace. But in reality, it is never easy. The most difficult is when the connection is unstable, meaning it disconnects every few minutes leading to perpetual failed transfers. All in all, bad connection will slow down my work process, even makes it impossible to achieve.
SolutionsI always try to assess how will be the connection at the places I’ll visit. I look to forums and search to Google. The notion of “good internet connection” is very subjective, and need to be considered cautiously. Some people will tell you they have good wifi, meaning good enough for their needs, but in reality these can be really slow and does not suit your needs. It’s always good to test the speed, and reliability in situ. There is a website I check very often, it’s called ‘Nomad List‘. However they don’t have every cities in the world, they have a good list of cities along with various variables about the cities with some data that help to choose if the city is good live or work in. They list the average internet speed of each of their indexed cities.
I am also careful about accommodation I can reserve, and would try to verify how connection is. In the meantime I usually go to cafes or coworking places around, and test if I can find a reliable source of connection. I use a speed test app like ‘speedtest‘ to measure how well connection perform. After testing some places, I can define which one I’ll go back to get work done.
Sometimes you’ll find good connection in unusual places. For example in Jaipur, the best connection I found was in the lobby of a hotel, I thus set up a temporary working station in this space, this was weird to do this with the hotel staff around, but they were friendly and understanding. In Bariloche, the surprisingly best connection I found was in the airport! But it was too late when I found out, I was already leaving the city!
Finding great internet connection can be tricky when on the road, in developing countries, this challenge can be dealt with some research and spotting time.
TouristsNowadays more and more people are able to travel worldwide, which means that you’ll most likely find flocks of tourists when strolling into well-known locations!
It really repels me when I travel to incredible places run down by hordes of tourists, sometimes even away from cities. This will kill all my recordings, and even influence my appreciation of the place, and keep me away from understanding the local culture.
Unless I am looking to record tourist crowds, getting away from the crowds has been one of the most active challenge I had while field recording, having to walk the extra miles at many places. It is frustrating, and mentally difficult since it will forge an antisocial character traits in your behavior (while always targeting humans beings as your enemy!). In some cases, it will be impossible to avoid tourists, and this can happen inside incredibly sounding places. For example in Gruta de Lago Azul in Brazil, it was impossible to access this location without the groups and guides, which visit non-stop this incredible cave.
My ApproachI now usually avoid any tourist hubs unless I know how to get away from the crowd. Planning a trip based on touristic book guides or based on what people (other tourists) tells you, will lead to these situations. If I try to find unusual, interesting places, I will mitigate the information I can find from any travel guides (knowing everyone is looking to the same information). I sometimes look to Atlas Obscura.
In my opinion, the key to appreciate places and to find interesting sounds is to put myself in a mindset driven by curiosity. I will resist temptations to go to “the” place to visit; for example, even if I was really close, I did not go to Iguazu falls, I did not go to Machu Picchu either. This has lead me to explore and discover interesting places away from the tourists.
Getting Bad Sleep:
a GambleIt is impossible to know in advance all the details of where you gonna sleep, and it happened that my accommodation had a lot of noises or wrong temperature, bad smell, or anything that will impede a good night of sleep. Sometimes also I had recording scheduled, or transit scheduled that made me sleep less (ex: 3 or 4am getting up). At times, I traveled by night (in train, bus, or plane), and depending on the design of the seat/bed and turbulence level, it can be as much as a nice night than a terrible one. I did sleep in hostels’ dormitories at times. It was a gamble and could end up as nightmare nights. For example, in Iceland I was assigned to a room with EXTREME snoring people, even earplug were not working! It gave me an opportunity to record some interesting snores. But having bad sleep then impacts the day after, the focus and the work! I had some good and bad experiences with Airbnb too, for example one time the host decided to throw an overnight party in the apartment without any notice.
SolutionsEach body is different, some people need more sleep, some can easily deal with a sleepless night. As a rule of thumb, I can do right with 7h of good sleep. If I got less, my body will feel it. It’s possible to ease the lack of sleep with a power nap (at least 20 minutes, or more). If one accommodation has some issues to deliver the best conditions for a great night of sleep, I usually try to go somewhere else. It happened I had to cancel or modify reservation to get a better sleep-friendly place. Some other times, it is difficult to move to another accommodation, dealing with the place’s issues. I might get creative in order to hack the flaws. For example, I used my clothes as pillow if pillow were too thin or nonexistent. I can also use pillow as extra noise barrier on top of earplugs if the noise prevents me to sleep. Listening to some music can help me to fight against undesired noise, and even to calm down the brain. If I got difficulty to breathe (dry air, dusty, …) I can sprinkle my nose with some water. If I am bothered by some people (noise, light, vibrations,..) I can just ask these people to chill down. At times, if the sleep still does not come, I can take herbal tea, take melatonin, meditate, breathe and relax.
Working SpaceWhen I’m not recording, I am working on my laptop, editing and preparing sound libraries. I always try to get a good working station. Hence I prefer accommodations that are furnished with desk and chair (which is frankly not easy to find) ! I know some people can work everywhere (sofa, bed,..) but I don’t, when I work I usually work for hours in a row and really need a good posture. I like also to work on stand-up table, allowing me to move and be more dynamic.
I have been trying many co-working spaces, and cafes. I am kind of specialist to spot a good place. Co-working spaces can be really expensive, in Buenos Airs I paid up to 300 bucks, and it was little deceptive as the place was playing music in background 24/24, this thus not helping with the work. Although I always feel more productive if I have my own desk inside my accommodation, it can happen that no place will fit my needs. In this case, I just do the bare minimum (answering mails) and focus more on recording, exploring.
Loneliness!I have been travelling ‘alone’ for years! I wish sometimes I could have a travel partner. But I believe I am more flexible as a lone wolf, and I still get to meet so many people which I wouldn’t have met if I was accompanied. Yes it can be really difficult from time to time. I believe my character traits are more suited to solitary experiences. Different people have different traits and different needs, this is how my personality works.
How I cope with lonelinessIt’s easy to engage in conversation with other people (if you share the same language), and people are everywhere. On an other level, technology now allows us to be in contact with anyone, anywhere, anytime, it is great to keep up with family and friends. When booking an accommodation, I favor the one that will put me in contact with other people (locals preferably). Hostels are good to meet backpackers, tourists, voyagers from around the world. But if you would like to get in touch with locals, it would be preferable to book a family-run bed & breakfast or through Airbnb for example, hence allowing to meet and stay with locals.
I have to acknowledge in developing countries people are warmer and more curious, they will naturally come to you; Whereas westerner countries are colder, more individualist. For example I felt more lonesomeness when I was living in Montreal, even in the middle of the city.
The travel naturally leads to meet people, and I truly met incredible, friendly, & generous people all around the world! For me, there is no excuse to get loneliness blues on the road! Just stay gentle, honest, and curious, and you will make friends everywhere.
24/24 Alert Mode
the SentinelSound never stops! Good opportunity to record can happen anytime, anywhere. This requires me an extra layer of focus, which is taken out from my energy. This is another reason to stay healthy and not over-burn myself. In some situations I can feel confined, as I give a lot of attention to the sound around me.
SolutionsIn order to lighten the process of being always alert, ready to record at anytime, it’s important to maintain the most simple and easy method of recording. This is why I try to keep my gear really light and easy. In everyday situation, I always have a small backpack to carry a small handheld recorder with me (these days, the Sony PCM D100) with optional external mics. It allows a simple recording process that does not require so much thinking and effort. Hence I am ready to record at any time whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes I expressly leave all my equipment aside, usually if I go for a run, or a walk, thus allowing my brain to take a break from the constant focus.
Gear Failure!Gears are machines, and it is more likely that some kind of failure will happen at times! (probably at the most unexpected moment!) For example, my super RavPower battery (which power the Mixpre6) has decided it won’t last anymore, at the exact time when I had planned a long one night recording session in the Pantanal, and of course I had just one night in my schedule, thus I couldn’t get the entire night. In a more general way, machines/gear are unpredictable and even more when exploring regions with extreme conditions.
SolutionsCarrying a second backup system is vital! It does not have to be the same (twice the same gear) but it can be a smaller version, so it will assure being able to record high quality even in case of failure. For example, if my main rig is the Sound Devices MixPre6, my substitute backup will be the Sony pcm d100 (which is only stereo, and does not have xlr input). A third backup system is even a possibility to take into account (in case the 2 first failed)… So many configurations are possible, it only depends on one’s taste, needs, and possibilities.
Lightness, or the Eternal Quest for Minimalism!To be able to move that much, and that often, I had to sort and select all the stuff I owned, clearing 95% of all the crap that got accumulated for years. And I managed to make everything fit into one 25 liters backpack + one 10 liters backpack!
However, along the way I collected more stuff, and it has been an endless struggle throughout all my travel. I got rid of some stuff along the way, modified my bag setup many times, but I have to say it is still a work in progress.
For me, there 2 different approaches, depending on if I want to check-in a bag for flight, or if I don’t want to check any bag. However it turns out that not checking bag has become almost impossible as flight companies have restricted their baggage policies, sometimes allowing only 8 kg for the cabin baggage.
a RevelationSince the day I did the big clean-up of my stuff, all my life has undergone a deep de-clutter. I feel more free in general, and do not bear the burden of materialism. I only buy exactly what I need, escaping all unnecessary temptation.
” No, I am not on vacation! “I am always amused when people ask me : “so, where do you go today?” (meaning: what do you go visit?), and my answer is “nowhere”, since I work pretty much all days, and it’s really difficult for them to understand. Yes I visit, but I mainly do live and work, and just do the same thing as everybody else.
Dealing with human interactionsWhen I meet people on the road, they usually make the assumption that I am a tourist on vacation! They usually can’t envision the lifestyle I chose to live. This is different from everything they’ve seen or experienced. It can happen with locals as well as tourists themselves. This has lead me to be the target of many advises or propositions that were not beneficial to my sound journey. For example, many people proposed me to go on ‘tours’. I usually avoid any of these ‘tourist options’, I don’t hesitate to say ‘no’. I am always trying to go away from the touristic hubs which will minimize those kind of proposals and assumptions. Also if I really want to go to coveted places, I will search for alternatives approaches.
Checked baggage, lost baggage!This one is terrible but real threat. As field recordist travelling with expensive equipment, I am super worried about losing my baggage, or getting some items lost or stolen, or even damaged. In Iceland through Wowair (which did bankrupt since then), I had some equipment that got detached from my bag and completely lost. This was a high quality tripod and the PA system from the Tetramic (all valued at 500$). An other example in Germany, my bag got checked at customs which caused it to not arrive with me at my destination, I had to wait 3 days for it to be shipped to me.
Some suggestionsWhen taking planes, if you can keep all of your stuff with you (as cabin baggage and hand baggage, not checked-in bags), it will prevent most of the trouble that could happen. Although, it is not always possible since audio gear can be heavy along with cabin baggage policy that is usually really strict. But some companies are more relaxed and don’t even bother to check the weight.
When taking the bus (particularly if you put luggage on keep), be sure to keep an eye on it when they open doors at various stops (if you can). You never know what could happen. In general it is always better to stay vigilant particularly when taking public transport, thieves are often around the corner. Keep your eyes open! If the checked baggage didn’t make it to your destination, don’t wait, file a complaint to the dedicated office at your arrival, and see what they propose. If they propose to wait for a delivery by the next flight (1 or 2 day after), keep asking them, call them often, show your interest for the bag.
On another note, I would advice to sign up to a special insurance for audio gear, because you never know, your $10000 gear baggage can get lost!
Moving too fast!I experienced many pace of travel: moving very fast (each day a new location, for example in Iceland and Switzerland), medium pace (3 or 5 days at each place), medium-slow (1 to 2 weeks), and slow travel (1 to 4 months), for example I stayed 2 months in Budapest and Buenos Aires.
My verdict is that travelling too fast is really tiring, it is difficult, and most of the time frustrating; because you never got the time to explore the interesting things, and got oblige to skip so many interesting sounds. The slower you can travel, the best it is. It allows to get immersed, understand the culture, and start to feel like a local. Moreover, slow travel allows to better find unique sounds, and unusual places. It allows to get less stressed and discover at a deeper level the places and the people.
I would not recommend to stay only 1 or 2 nights at one place. I did it many times, and I can say it has been really tiresome, spending too much time to find food, find the accommodation, understand how work transportation,… In my opinion, I believe 5 days should be the absolute minimum time to spend at one place. It is different for each person, but for my taste, 3 to 6 weeks at each place seems like a good pace.
Wait wait & wait :Sometimes it can be long to get to one place, 18 hours bus, 2 hours boat,.. It can seem like an eternity, and the body has to stand still, which can lead to pain. Breathing, meditation, yoga, all of this will help to endure the long hours of immobility.
Recording good sound requires patience! The bird won’t sing based on your schedule, as a consequence waiting is inherent to the work of ‘field recording’. Over time, stories will unfold, doors will open, and sounds will become more interesting!
Language TrapsCommunication is key to our lives, hence there are many ways language will become the number one obstacle. Here are some compiled situations I found myself stuck into: understanding the wrong direction, mispronunciation to the taxi driver leading to a huge detour, unable to make the bus stop at the desired location, getting trapped by locals knowing I was a traveler, getting the ‘special price’ (inflated) for tourists, not being able to read manual (leading to wrong use of some objects/gears), not being able to read instructions (leading to dangerous outlaw behavior), not being able to read ingredients/food (leading to eating whatever, and some really bad and strong taste, could be real problem for allergy, and poisoning), misunderstanding of time leading to missed transit, being asocial for not being able to interact with locals, being unaware of local customs and traditions, spending 10 or 15 minutes to ask simple questions, having all the staff coming around you to try to understand but without success.
SolutionsThe only solution is to learn some of the local language before going to the place. I witnessed that many places have 2 or 3 official languages, you don’t need to learn all of them, but just some words of one of them will go a long way! For example, when in Georgia I began to learn some Russian, it proved to be really helpful, not only in Georgia but also in Bulgaria. Even if I am still beginner, I will pursue to learn Russia in the coming years because many countries still speak Russia, or have their own version based on Russia (Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, Belorussian,…).
While I was in Buenos Aires, I took intensive Spanish lesson and it made my life way more easy! I thus had been able to interact with locals in Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru!
Although more and more younger generations around the world now are able to speak English, it is usually better spoken in bigger cities, or tourist hubs. But in most cases the average ‘local’ guy/girl will only speak/understand the ‘local’ language.