A tourist's guide: how to travel around the country without knowing a foreign language
Lack of money is not the main problem that stops a tourist. We are often driven by fear: of getting lost, of getting into trouble, of not finding a common language with someone. And everything "rests" on one significant nuance: not knowing a foreign language. Many people who knew English very well at school remember it at the level of "ze skai ze blue".
Of course, you can try harder and learn the language again, but what if you're short on time? And you want to see the Louvre, taste the signature Italian pizza, and stroll among the snow-white houses of Santorini right now? Well, don't panic. Here are some effective life hacks that will help you to stay on top of any situation.
You will still need to memorize some of the key phrases and expressions that will definitely come in handy:
- address and name of the hotel where you booked your room;
- names of tourist attractions you plan to visit;
- how much something costs;
- phrases for visiting restaurants, such as: "Can I book a table with you?", "Is this dish too spicy?", etc.
Also, be on the safe side in case you need to find a pharmacy, restroom, train station, or other emergency location. Be sure to add a touch of politeness to your questions: "thank you," "excuse me," etc., so that the foreigner doesn't think you're being impudent.
Tip: Write everything down in a notebook or in your phone. Break the words down into categories (airport, restaurant, walk, hotel, public transportation, shopping). Because even if they bounce off your teeth, stress has a surprising effect on our brains - you can suddenly forget everything.
An offline translator is a must-have for traveling abroad. Install an offline application on your smartphone. Such apps are very convenient for communicating with foreigners, as you can record sentences using a microphone.
By the way, some platforms have a camera translation function. This is also very convenient when you need to buy something in a store or translate an ad.
Forget about other people's opinions and don't be afraid to be a weirdo. If all the phrases have flown out of your head and the app suddenly stops working, use your creativity. For example, when you don't know how to order in a restaurant, just tap on the selected item on the menu. Not sure how to ask for directions to a place you want to go? Use all the words you know related to that location. As practice shows, it really works.
Use sign language and facial expressions, literally explain everything on your fingers. If you have a pen and a piece of paper at hand, draw what you need. However, before you travel, familiarize yourself with the traditions of the country you are packing for. Sometimes the gestures we are used to can mean something vulgar or offensive.
Download offline maps. Of course, the ideal option is to turn on roaming or buy a local SIM card as soon as you arrive. It will be safer to always have a connection and a network. However, in some places, coverage is lost, and then offline maps come in handy. Moreover, it's better to throw a printed one in your backpack, too, as your phone may run out of power. In short, think of all possible ways to travel with peace of mind.
Choose large cities. As a rule, they have a well-developed infrastructure, lots of signage, and polyglot guides who can speak Ukrainian. In addition, even when renting a home on Airbnb, you can turn on the filter and find landlords with language skills.
Audio guides deserve special attention - when you come to a place of interest where you can take a device and listen to the tour yourself, there is also a variety of languages. Almost everyone finds the one they understand. But if you're not sure if a location has such a feature, try downloading a voice guide yourself.
If you can save time and nerves, do it. Most tickets can now be purchased online, and not just for moving or flying to another country. This applies to museums, concerts, and other entertainment. Of course, book your accommodation and a table in a unique, well-known venue that is always sold out in advance.
Don't be afraid to speak. English is learned through practice. In 90% of cases, foreigners do not ridicule, but rather respect people who try to speak to them in their language. The harder you try, the faster you will be able to speak a foreign language fluently.
If you don't know the foreign language, your friend or acquaintance may know it and would be happy to go on a trip. It also happens that we find such "translators" while traveling.
If you don't have an English-speaking friend, and all the previous tips cause a "oh, my gosh" reaction, there is only one option left - to buy a ready-made tour. The standard package includes transportation, hotel accommodation, breakfast, basic excursions, and a guide who understands English and will always help you in case of emergency. Therefore, this is an additional "insurance" against unexpected troubles in an unfamiliar place.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you which country to choose for your first foreign trip.