Whether you’re traveling solo for the first time, exploring a new destination, or immersing yourself in another country, it can be a bit daunting…especially if you don’t speak the language!
But just because you can’t speak the language doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. In fact, some of my best trips have been to places where I had to figure my way out and find clever ways of communicating.
Whether you’re trying to find the nearest restroom, find a particular attraction, or explain your food allergies, there are ways to prepare for your trip to a foreign country.
Here are some tips for traveling to countries where you don’t speak the language.
use a translation app
First of all, translation apps have come a long way. These are very useful during exploration.
There are countless options, but my typical go-to is Google Translate. Google Translate offers typed translations in over 100 languages, more than half of which are available offline (which is huge!).
Did you know that Google Translate also has handwritten translations? If you haven’t checked out the instant camera translations yet, this is a very useful tool for figuring out what the signs are saying in a pinch.
Travel with E-Sim
Luckily, many languages in Google Translate are available offline, but we recommend getting an E-SIM or local SIM card so you can use phone services.
A pay-as-you-go SIM card with an unlocked phone can be very helpful.
Pro Tip: Save local emergency numbers on your phone so you can call the police or ambulance quickly for help if you need them.
Having a working cell phone makes it much easier to look things up, access maps, and check in with others.
Using Timekettle earphones
of Timekettle translation earphone Must have! Language translation device works in real time.
This is a really cool innovation, especially for those who are nervous about communicating abroad. Timekettle uses HybridComm™ technology. If you’re unfamiliar, this is cutting-edge technology that can provide translations between languages in a natural way. It also supports both online and offline translation, so no internet connection is required.
what does this look like? Instead of passing translation apps back and forth, just plug in the Timekettle Translator Earbuds and enjoy conversations with people who speak different languages.
This would have been very handy when traveling through Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa…you name it!
You can buy Timekettle earphones directly to their website or Amazon!
I have an offline version of the app
We highly recommend downloading Google Maps, especially an offline map of your destination, before embarking on your adventure.
We mentioned getting a SIM card, but you may need to get off the plane and move to your accommodation without internet. please confirm.
This ensures that even if you’re in a location without mobile coverage, you’ll at least have a map to navigate.
While some people like to act very naturally (I get it!), a little bit of planning in advance actually makes the trip more enjoyable… at least in my experience!
Some people may like the idea of booking a ticket and getting a ticket, but I like a little preparation.
I had a rather eventful experience trying to give an address and directions in another language to a taxi driver.
It would have saved me money and precious time if I could connect my destinations directly and know in advance what budget I would need for the ride along with exactly how to get there.
Some ways I like to plan ahead:
- Is there an Uber or ride-hailing service at my destination that I pre-book to pick me up at my accommodation?
- Beware of typical tourist scams and stay vigilant when it comes to safety measures
- Save (or learn) some key phrases. These are detailed below.
get used to the hotel
If you are staying at a hotel, I highly recommend chatting with the concierge or receptionist. can do.
It is very convenient to have a business card of the hotel with the address. All too often I mispronounce the street I’m staying on or confuse the address, so it’s helpful to have a business card for reference.
Pro tip: Take a photo of your business card with your cell phone. But take it with you in case your phone runs low on battery.
learn key phrases
Before I travel, I want to memorize some key phrases for my destination. Not only are they extremely helpful, they will tell the locals that you are trying to connect with them.
This is a long way. In my experience, I’ve found that people who ask someone to speak English are not greeted as gracefully as those who are polite and actively try to communicate in their native language.
Having a few basic words such as bathroom, directions, and help is very important.
consider a guide
Traveling with a guide isn’t for everyone, but please consider it.
I hired a guide when I was in Egypt. A good guide will enrich your experience with fun facts, learn about the local culture, and give you insights you wouldn’t get otherwise.
It also makes logistics a lot easier when navigating to different destinations, bartering for souvenirs, or figuring out what to order from a restaurant.
Do you have any tips to add to your trip to places that don’t speak the language? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
This post is sponsored by Timekettle. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.