7 Tips for Overcoming Language Barriers While Traveling

Posted by on in Travel

Traveling around the world can be some of life’s greatest experiences. By visiting new countries and sampling different types of foods and cultures, you gain a greater understanding of our collective global consciousness. In the course of your adventures, it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to occasionally feel intimidated by language and communication barriers. To combat these uncertainties, follow these 7 tips:

  1. Make an Effort – You’re not expected to be fluent in all languages, but when you visit a foreign country it’s important to take some time to learn key words and phrases. Doing so shows the local people that you respect their customs and want to experience your trip to the fullest. You don’t want to walk around with your head in a translation dictionary, but it’s advisable to have one handy.

  2. Show Deference – You want your hosts to help you, so make sure you’re polite. Those key words and phrases mentioned above? Make sure you include “please” and “thank you” in that batch.

  3. Familiarize Yourself with Local Customs – Remember, you’re a guest in a foreign country. Their customs may be different than yours, so not adhering to them could be seen as insulting.

  4. Talk Slowly – It’s not critical that you sound authentic. What matters more is that you are clear. If you’re speaking in a foreign tongue, take the time to clearly enunciate so the person you’re speaking to can understand what you are saying.

  5. Watch Your Gestures – Similar to being familiar with local customs, some gestures can be misconstrued depending on your location. Wild gestures and motions probably won’t go over well among more reserved cultures.

  6. Technology is Your Friend – If you have a smartphone, use it. Several apps like Google Translate and Jibbigo exist to help you communicate more clearly. Be aware, however, that using apps on your phone could be potentially costly when abroad, depending on your mobile service.

  7. Keep it Simple – Use simple phrases, avoid slang and idioms that may confuse, and be respectful.

Are you planning an international trip? As part of our Atlas Travel Insurance products, HCCMIS offers translation services to help you better prepare for your trip.

Click here to download our free brochure that explains:

  • Why you need travel insurance
  • Benefits provided by travel insurance
  • How to enroll


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