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Tips for Traveling When You Don’t Speak the Language

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To date, there are over 6900 spoken languages around the world. Some people speak two, maybe three languages proficiently, and many people are only familiar with their own native language, which can make traveling to other countries difficult. If you’re planning to travel to a place where another language is spoken, you should prepare yourself for navigating language barriers, so you are able to get around efficiently, order at restaurants and ensure your basic needs are met.

6. Learn the Basics

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You can easily find or buy a simple phrasebook so you can learn to speak basic phrases, such as “hello,” “please,” “thank you” and “do you speak English?” Thanks to the Internet, you can even find native speakers properly pronouncing the words and phrases you wish to say, so you can better master the language. Having a physical copy of a phrasebook handy as you travel around a country is helpful, as well, so you always have it handy when conversations arise.

5. Hand Gestures

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People communicate in all sorts of ways, and different hand gestures can mean different things depending on where you’re at. For example, a thumbs up in America means you agree or something is good, but in Latin America, a thumbs up is equivalent to flipping someone off. Not a good way to make an impression in a new country! Before visiting a new country, read up on hand gestures and other culturally significant communication, so you don’t end up offending the locals! Used appropriately, however, hand gestures can be a great way to break through communication barriers and communicate your needs to others, even if you don’t speak the same language.

4. Make Use of Technology

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There’s an app for that! There are several Android and iPhone apps designed to help you learn a new language and even act as a translator on the go. There are travel guides and other apps that can help you get around, as well. Just be sure to talk to your cell phone provider before traveling abroad, to avoid racking up unexpected data charges, and always be sure to travel with an international travel charger, so you can keep your phone powered up!

As a freelance writer, Kyle enjoys writing and editing diverse content for several businesses across the United States. Find Kyle on LinkedIn!

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