You might only be travelling for a week or two and you don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to learning a whole new language before you leave. Prepare yourself that you might feel completely out of your comfort zone at times and, especially if you are travelling alone, quite lonely. This blog is to help prepare you for situations you might not have expected before you travel, not while you are there. Here are some helpful tips and tricks that we have picked up from some of our veteran Social Travellers.
Helpful Tip #1: Wifi is your best friend. But more importantly, Google Translate when you have wifi is your best friend. Locals often think it is absolutely hilarious and have been very patient when tourists pull out their phones and try to bridge the language gap with technology. There are even some offline translation apps that you can use to make it even easier to communicate in real time.
Helpful Tip #2: If you would like to avoid pointing or yelling questions and being one of “those tourists”, take a minute before you leave your hostel or hotel to route your day. Saving screenshots of city maps will ensure that you don’t need to ask for directions during the day.
Helpful Tip #3: Interacting with locals can be the best decision you ever made while traveling. At times, you get completely out of your comfort zone and you also gain some amazing insights into places to visit that only locals would know. Ask politely for them to make a list of sites so that you can look them up online once you’re back at your hotel or hostel.
Helpful Tip #4: There are obviously universal hand gestures that everyone knows about and can make communicating in another country somewhat of a game. If hand gestures aren’t working or you feel a bit silly, try a game of pictionary!
We hope that these tips arm you with your own emergency kit when you travel and the confidence to step out of your comfort zone. This is in no way to try and discourage you from interacting with locals, exactly the opposite – our travel memories are largely made up of the friendships that we make on our journey, but to set you up for success when you take the plunge!