Is not speaking the language keeping you from an incredible travel opportunity? We get it, travel is fun and exciting but for some people it also can be nerve-racking if you don't speak the language. That's why we've put together our tips for traveling when you don't speak the language.
Learn the Basics
You don't have to become fluent for your two week trip abroad, but, if you don't speak the language, put in the time to learn basic words and phrases that will be helpful during your trip. Knowing how to say "hello", "please", "thank you", "Do you speak English?", etc, will get you pretty far and likely make you feel more comfortable. Not only will it help you navigate your new environment, but it shows locals that you've made an effort.
Use Hand Gestures
If you're at a loss for how to explain what you're trying to say, hand gestures are often the solution. It is often said that hand gestures make up a higher percentage of language than spoken words so it isn't surprising that using them when you don't know the language is so helpful. When you're stuck, try miming or charades. One word of caution though, be sure to do some research to make sure specific gestures are not offensive in your host country.
Another great solution, although not always the most practical, are the use of translation apps. They are usually far from perfect but if you're in a bind or simply want a guide for the basic words and phrases that you're trying to learn, they can be extremely helpful.
There is power in pointing. For example, pointing to items on the menu as you butcher the pronunciation is usually a good way to make sure you're ordering what you actually want. Point at places on maps, point at your phone, point at the address you're looking for. It is a great way to get your "point" across (sorry, I couldn't help the pun).
Carry Around the Address Where You Are Staying
It is always advisable to carry around the address of where you are staying while wondering around your travel destination. Taking a business card from your hotel or having the address handy in your Adventure Assist travel notebook are easy ways to do this. This will ensure that you can always find your way back by showing your taxi driver the address or asking directions.
Possibly the most helpful thing to consider when traveling to a destination where you don't speak the language is to always be nice. It can be frustrating at times to not be able to communicate effectively, and let's face it you'll probably mess up at some point when you try (everyone does). When you are nice, people instinctively want to help you and they will often go out of their way to make sure that you have everything that you need.
Often travel is about putting ourselves out there and finding comfort in the uncomfortable. So, if not speaking the language is keeping you from an amazing travel experience, consider these tips to make sure that you don't let anything hold you back.
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