It is a privilege to be traveling long-term internationally. Some other privileges I think about are my good health, being able-bodied, having financial means, and enjoying so much support from family and friends.
Being a native English speaker is one privilege I think about daily. My interactions with other travelers, regardless of their country of origin, are in English. The Dutch, Swiss, Swedes, French, German, Spanish and Israelis all speak English. Many of these travelers speak 3 and 4 languages too.
The local people in Vietnam (China too, but to a lesser degree) learn English to interact with the tourists. If a sign, website, or museum display includes information in a language other than the national language, English is used. I have seen a handful of translations into Russian and more translations into French (especially in Vietnam given the occupation), but those are rare.
The ease of traveling as a native English speaker was evident during my tour to Sapa, a town in the northern highlands of Vietnam, with a great tour group. Our group included a Spanish family of 5, a couple from the Netherlands, and a couple living in San Francisco with one partner originally from France and the other partner from Kansas (that was exciting!). During our three days together, French, English, and Spanish were our common languages.
On the train to Sapa, my Spanish roommate introduced herself to me in English. When I responded in Spanish, she became excited. She was happy we would be able to communicate more easily and even added that it would be helpful to have another Spanish/English speaker for interpreting. It felt great to have second language skills that were useful to others and could improve our shared experience.
While there was a lot of planning that occurred before I left Minnesota, learning or improving my English language skills was not a consideration. I was not hindered from travel because I did not know the lingua franca.
Enough heavier musings, here are photos: