There are often times traveling when Nick and I don’t know the local language. Whether we know a little bit or none, sometimes it’s really hard to get along and figure things out. And while we might think everyone is going to speak English, the more places we visit, the more I realize that really isn’t true in lots of places, so it’s good to have a backup plan in mind on how to deal with language barriers. The last thing you want is to have a trip ruined because you don’t understand. Here’s some ways to help break that language barrier and get along if you don’t know the local language.
Google what you will need to say and take a screenshot.
I do this a lot and it works really well. It helps if I can speak a little bit of the language or know how to pronounce things, but either way, if you google a phrase you know you’ll be using a lot when you have wifi, take a screenshot so you can pull it up easily when you need to. For example, I do this a lot with directions or phrases that I know I’ll be using a lot on our trip and it’s really handy.
Carry a map at all times.
Even though we travel with service on our phones internationally, I never leave home with a map for each city we’re visiting. I personally love the Streetwise maps and I mark in sharpie on each one where our hotel is and where the major spots we’re most likely going to be heading are, that way in a bind we always have a map. If our phones die or we don’t want to use all our data, make sure you have a map in your language to navigate.
Keep addresses of hotels and other lesser known spots to show taxi drivers or ask directions.
Before we leave on a trip, I take a screenshot of every address we’ll need while gone. Whether it’s an apartment address or a hotel or restaurant, any place you know for sure you’ll be going and will need to get back and forth to, take a screenshot. This is particularly helpful in countries that might not speak English but at least share an alphabet, they will still be able to read it even if you can’t pronounce it. It’s harder in countries where the written language has its own alphabet, but still helpful all the same.
Try local ethnic restaurants at home to figure out what you like and remember the names.
We do this a lot before we head somewhere a little more exotic so we know what to expect from the food. Have dinner at a local ethnic restaurant and look over the menu, try a few things and remember the names of what you liked. Then, when you’re traveling in those countries, you won’t be lost reading the menu, you’ll have some idea of what they items are.
Download apps like Word Lense that translates on the spot from an image.
Word Lense is an amazing app that basically hovers over an image and shows you the translation. We used it a lot in Spain when we weren’t sure of things on menus and such and it’s super easy and works so well. There are a lot of translation apps out there, but that’s my favorite.