It may seem discouraging to go to a country where you do not speak the language. But it’s not 1995 anymore! There’s no need to rummage through paper dictionaries and tourist groups. Thanks to technology (especially translation applications), the language barrier is no longer an obstacle at all. However, if you are traveling to a country where you do not speak the language, you must be aware of cultural differences and other obstacles that could cause you trouble. This language application will not be of much help if you have to deal with foreign law enforcement. So here are the 7 Tips You Need Before Traveling to a Place You Don’t Speak the Language.
Learn a few key phrases
An ideal tourist is a polite tourist, who respects the customs of the country he visits. Learning basic phrases like “please” and “thank you” can go a long way to getting good service in restaurants and avoiding suspicious looks. It can also be helpful to learn how to politely order food or ask for things in stores.
Use hand gestures
Traveling to a country whose language is not spoken is like playing a giant charade game. Sometimes hand gestures are essential to getting your message across. For example, if you order a dish by pointing and saying “please,” your server’s next question might be: “Beef or chicken? If you don’t know how to say one or the other, the hand gestures and the sounds of animals are perfectly appropriate.
Use your translation app when you’re stuck
If you’re looking to purchase something important, use your translation app. Things like subway maps, tickets to your next destination, or even questions about train delays require professional help. If you are wrong in these areas, you may find yourself without a hotel room in a foreign country. Even if you block the ATM line, use this language app to get answers to compelling questions.
The best way to get to know the locals and culture is to ask questions. If you’re in a bar and you have burning questions about the things you saw that day, take out your translation app and chat with the bartender that way. You can also visit groups Meetup.com where people try to learn English. It’s a great way to meet locals, get answers to your questions, and expand your vocabulary.
Do your research
When planning your trip, research your destination. It is always helpful to go there with some knowledge of culture and people. Watch some YouTube videos of people who have already traveled there, or read some travel articles. These resources will not give you a complete picture, but they are a good start.
Don’t expect people to speak English
Yes, many people in the world speak English. But don’t assume that everyone in the country you’re in is talking about it. In Europe, you will have more luck with English, but in Asian countries, there is a good chance that you will be alone. Remember that advice on tourist politeness? Assuming that people speak your language is not very polite.
Don’t make assumptions, period.
The best advice for any traveler is to keep an open mind. Some cultures have customs that seem counterintuitive or offensive, but remember that you are no longer at home. Seeing other cultures through the prism of yours and making assumptions about people usually doesn’t lead to a positive travel experience. Instead, recognize that you are a guest in someone else’s home and learn to consider differences as an asset and not as a disadvantage.