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How to Travel to a Place When You Don’t Know the Language

Is not speaking the language stopping you from an incredible trip opportunity? We get it, travel is entertaining and exciting, but it can also be nerve-racking if you can’t communicate in the language. That’s why we’ve bought six tips for traveling when you don’t know the local language.


If you cannot explain what you’re trying to say, hand gestures are an excellent solution. It is often told that hand gestures deliver a higher percentage of language than spoken words, so it isn’t shocking that using them when you are not familiar with the language is so helpful. When you’re lost, try miming or charades. A single word of caution, though, be sure to research to make confident specific gestures are not offensive in the country you are traveling.


You don’t need to become fluent in the local language for your two-week trip abroad, but it will be useful to know some basic phrases, like how to say, “thank you”, “sorry”, or excuse me. Take time to learn essential words and phrases that will help your journey. Understanding how to say, “Do you speak English?” “Hello,” or “please,”  etc., will get you much far and possibly earn comfort. Not only will this help you in navigating your new environment, but it displays locals that you’ve made an effort.


Another excellent solution, although not always the most practical, is the practice of translation apps. They usually are far from perfect, but if you’re in a jam or simply need a guide for the basic terms and phrases that you’re attempting to learn, they can be accommodating.


It is always good to carry around the address of where you are staying while wandering nearby your travel destination. Traveling with your hotel’s business card or having the address in written form in anything you are carrying are easy ways to do this. This will guarantee that you can always get your way back by telling your taxi driver the address or asking for directions.


There is power in pointing. For instance, pointing to objects on the menu or items for sale is so much better than badly pronouncing the items you’re trying to buy. Pointing at certain places on maps, or at the specific address you’re looking for is a good way to have your “point” across.


Possibly the most important thing to consider when moving to a destination where you don’t know the local language is always to be nice. It can be a source of frustration sometimes if you’re unable to communicate properly; and truth is, there is a high likelihood that you will mess up when you try (everyone does). When you are nice, people naturally desire to help you, and they will usually go out of their way in order to make sure that you have everything you need.

Usually, travel is about setting ourselves out there and obtaining comfort in the uncomfortable. So, if not knowing the local language is keeping you away from a fantastic travel experience, use these six easy tips to make sure that you don’t let anything stop you!