I contend that it would be best to learn a smattering of several different languages instead of trying to wrap your head around just one. When you consider it, how much of your native language do you really use on a day-to-day basis? Studies have shown that people rarely use more than 3000 words, and generally could get by with as little as 500 or so. Thus my advice would be to take five or six languages and work on them simultaneously. I realize that this is heresy to some, but for someone that is going to travel extensively I believe that it has great utility. Things to work on would be:
- Key phrases
- Interrogatives (Who, What, Where, When, How)
- 10-15 verbs with a basic understanding of tenses
- Courtesies (Please, Thank you, Excuse me, I'm sorry...)
- 500+ word vocabulary
- Japanese or Chinese
Once you have an understanding of 5-6 languages at an extremely basic level then adding additional languages is fairly straight forward, as is augmenting any one of them with greater skills and capabilities.