An important part of the preparation for your next travel is learning the language. If you plan to travel to the Middle East, South America, Asia, or Africa, it is best to pick up as much of the lingo as you can before leaving. Every minute you put into building up your foreign language vocabulary before you go will enrich your experience immeasurably when you get there.
Go to your local community college to see if they offer courses in the language you need to learn. Most of the major languages should be offered, including German, French, and Spanish.
Most bookstores have audiobooks on just about every language imaginable, plus hard books on grammar. Buy a few of them and listen to them on your iPod, or in your car on the way to work or school. Start preparing a few months before your departure.
There is a lot to do to prepare yourself for travel. Preparation is one of the many things that define a traveler. By channeling energy into learning things like languages, history, and culture, you will set yourself apart from most tourists, and again gain the respect of the people you meet in the countries you visit.
When the locals see that you are genuinely interested in learning about their culture and history, they will be more inclined to shower you with hospitality. Learning about the country also will help offset culture shock, and make you feel more comfortable when you first get there. Take the time and do your homework – you will be glad you did!