Watch the video above to hear my five tips on how to overcome language barriers while traveling or read the transcript below!
Hey Explorers! I'm here today to bring to you my travel tips on how to combat language barriers. While some people may be fluent in multiple languages, a lot of people are not! Plus, you can't obtain fluency for the language of every country you visit! With that said, here are my five quick tips to use to help you expedite the communication process!
Please note: Wherever I mention English, you can replace with your native language!
Learn common phrases and questions in the language of that country. You should learn phrases like:
"Do you speak English?
Where is the bathroom?
and most importantly Help! You may never know when you may need this one!
Some places may have people who can speak English to help with international business and tourism. This can be good for you! For example, say you are checking into a hotel and the receptionist only speaks the local language, (with the phrase you learned in tip 1) ask if they or anyone there speaks English. Someone with that language capability can assist you with your check in process.
Download the Google translate app for your smartphone and pick the language of the country you are visiting (or going to visit). I suggest you download this before you go so you have the translator available offline upon arrival. It isn't perfect but it can help you make it through a conversation. If I can conduct an audit meeting with this, I'm sure an every day conversation can be done.
Sometimes you can use sign language to help barriers such as signing in the air to ask for the check at a restaurant. BUT you have to be careful as different sign language symbols can mean different things in different countries. An example of this is a thumbs up in most countries means 'good job' but to some it could be derogatory such as a flick off.
If all else fails or you don't feel like going through any struggle, hire a local guide. A guide could be a local met through a friend, hired for a day tour, or hired for the entire trip. I had a guide in Xi'an China as English wasn't as common there. It was extremely helpful!!
Obviously not one of these tips will solve every barrier. Sometimes you have to use multiple to get you through. But be patient and keep your cool because they are just as confused as you!
Stayed tuned for my upcoming blogs about the Travel & Adventure Show, more Iceland updates, and ecotourism tips!
Thank you for reading! If there is something you need a travel tip about, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!