Travelling is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do. But it’s not always new foods and beautiful city views. I’ll be honest, in the past I’ve found myself hesitating to travel to a country where English wasn’t the native language. Silly, I know! Experiencing new cultures is what this is all about, so make sure you’re always one step out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few things to think about before travelling to a country that functions primarily in another language:
1. Buy a guidebook that includes key phrases
When you’re choosing a guide book for a city, it’s usually enough to go for one of the pocket sized ones to save space in your luggage. My new favourites are the Lonely Planet pocket guides. Whichever one you choose, make sure it has a section with common words and phrases to help you get by in the city!
2. Research your transport route before arriving
One thing I always do when travelling to a new city, especially if I don’t speak the language, is figure out what type of public transit is available, and what is the easiest way to get around town on my own. I also make sure to figure out the best way to arrive at my accommodation from the airport or train station, and how much it’s going to cost. There’s nothing worse than getting on a bus with a €10 note, only to have a German-speaking bus driver tell you that they don’t accept notes. Or did he say something else?
3. Print out maps for the area you’re staying in
It always helps to have a map or two handy when you arrive. Tourist Information booths aren’t always open, WiFi isn’t always available, so having a hard copy map to glance at discreetly to double check your direction is always good. Even if it’s just for peace of mind!
4. Try it out!
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. If you weren’t curious, you wouldn’t find yourself in a country where you don’t speak the language! Try it out; say hello, order a drink, and ask where the bathroom is. You may learn a thing or two by the time you head home!