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If you’re soon traveling to a non-English-speaking country for a vacation, you will undoubtedly have a few concerns in your mind before you fly. For example, one of your biggest fears might be how you’ll overcome the language barrier.
Another might be whether you can successfully navigate your way around the country without needing tour guides or chaperones. Each year, millions of people visit a country for the first time where English isn’t the primary language or doesn’t get widely spoken.
The following tips and tricks will help you and your family to have an excellent time abroad and ensure that the language differences don’t put up a barrier between your group and the places you want to visit or the people you wish to see:
1. Learn Some Basic Words and Phrases
Something you will notice whenever you visit a foreign land is that it’s easier if you can more-or-less convey what you want to the locals – even if it’s in a mixture of English and a few choice words in the local language.
With that in mind, it makes sense to learn some essential words and phrases before you go on your family vacation. For example, if you’re visiting a country in South America, it’s a good idea to learn a bit of Spanish.
There are several ways you can do that. One option is to have some formal lessons with a Spanish tutor. Another idea might be to purchase a phrasebook to learn the most commonly used words and phrases in sentences.
Plus, you can also check out the myriad of free language lessons for beginners on YouTube. They also include tips on understanding certain slang words and colloquial terms that may help you on your trip abroad.
2. Watch Some Foreign TV Shows
As strange as it might seem, watching some foreign TV programs like shows can give you an idea of what everyday life is like in the country you and your family are visiting. There will usually be subtitle options, so you can start to memorize some common words and phrases.
You can usually find such programming on satellite or cable TV channels and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. You may even find some foreign TV shows available for free on YouTube.
3. Use Translation Apps on Your Smartphone
Let’s face it: most people own and use a smartphone regularly. In addition, you likely have an Android or Apple smartphone, so you should have no problem finding suitable translation apps for your device.
Today’s translation apps, such as Google Translate, go one step further than providing literal text translations for words and phrases. Instead, you can also translate signs and restaurant menus, for example, using the app and your smartphone’s camera.
With some languages, it’s even possible to record some conversational sound, and the app can transcribe the words spoken into text for you.
4. Download Some Offline Maps to Your Smartphone
Another way that many people use their smartphones is for navigation purposes. With that in mind, did you know you can download offline maps to your device? Doing so is an excellent idea for two reasons.
Firstly, you won’t incur any data charges when navigating to points of interest during your family vacation because you’ve already downloaded the maps to your device. Secondly, it means you won’t get stuck if you’re in a location with no cell signal.
You can download offline maps for free with the Google Maps app or your favorite satellite navigation app.
5. Research Your Destination Before You Travel
Some families like to simply arrive at a destination and then research what to do or where to go. The problem with that approach is that it can waste a lot of time and cause frustration among family members.
You don’t need to create a complete itinerary for your trip as it’s good to have some spontaneity whenever you go on vacation abroad. But, it does make sense to do some research on your destination before you travel.
What you should look out for is:
- Nearby family-friendly attractions and points of interest;
- The location of the nearest police station and hospital or medical clinic;
- Local restaurants and grocery stores;
- Areas you should avoid due to high crime levels;
- Local customs that you should respect during your visit, such as clothing.
Plus, wherever you visit, it makes sense to be “streetwise” so that you don’t end up becoming a pickpocketing victim, for example.