Interested in traveling to foreign lands but don’t speak the language? No te preocupas (don’t worry)! Here are five tips to take the fear out being the foreigner:
1. Use a travel agent
Your Travel Agent will have the resources and knowledge to find the best deals and the safest hotels where the staff speaks English. Even if you’re hearty enough to head out anxiety-free in a city where no one understands you, you’ll want (and need) a place to lay your head at night where you can at least check in with the desk staff in your native tongue.
2. Hire an English-speaking tour guide
When in Rome, do as the Romans do… having a tour guide who speaks your language will make it infinitely easier to know what the Romans are doing. Get the inside scoop on what’s what from a local who’s qualified to show you the sights with all the historical and cultural background you want. Your English-speaking hotel staff can help you find the right tour guide; or better yet, ask your travel agent to book your tour guide in advance.
3. Take flash cards
There are two options for flash card use in foreign countries: the first involves pre-written phrases in the target language, and the second relies entirely on pictures.
The written version can be slightly more effort to obtain but you can write them yourself if you’re handy with a translation dictionary or a Google search. Keep in mind, however, that just because a person speaks the language doesn’t mean that person can read the language… this can make for a challenging taxi cab conversation if your cabbie can’t read or write.
Picture flash cards are extremely easy to understand, and the same set of flash cards can be used for any country. Of course, they do require you to be very creative, and good at charades (imagine shopping and asking where the exit is – a picture of a door may get you to a display of door hardware).
4. Get the app
There really is an app for everything; and of course there are scores of basic conversational travel interpretation apps available. If you do plan to rely heavily on an app, make sure you can use it without racking up international roaming fees or requiring a wireless internet connection.
5. Choose your destination by language
Nearly a third of the world’s population speaks English. There are over 30 countries where English is the primary language spoken; and there are over 30 more that recognize English officially as a secondary language. Your travel agent can help you plan an overseas trip that even the most xenophobic English speaker will enjoy.
Don’t let your wanderlust wither because you’re afraid of the language barrier. Call your travel agent and start crossing destinations off your bucket list!