2. Decide whether you wish to learn how to read/write Chinese
Chinese characters are not based on phonetics (sounds), so learning how to write does not help you learn how to speak. For travel purposes, learning a handful of Chinese characters will help you to read signs and menus in Chinese, but there is no reason to get too serious about writing if travel is your only objective. Most of the sign/menu characters can be extracted from a simple guidebook.
Many people enjoy learning how to write Chinese characters solely as a beautiful art form.