Doing a little preparation before your trip helps you to know what to expect when you visit a new country.
I really don’t like feeling lost in a new country and will do a lot of research and prep before hand. Knowing where your hotel is in the city you are visiting is handy to help you find your way and orientate yourself.
Finding out about the dress code, the currency and the languages spoken and if English is widely used is quite essential. You don’t want to just pack short and skimpy clothes when visiting countries that have a more conservative dress code. Dressing appropriately will make you feel more comfortable and probably get you less unwanted attention when abroad.
Learning a new language
Are you one of the 27% of Brits who don’t bother to learn any foreign language as you holiday in resorts that speak English?
It might be an idea to learn some key phrases in the language of the country you are visiting. Print out a one pager of key phrases like, thank you, where is the loo, etc is quite helpful. The Google Translate app has come to the rescue several times including when I had to decipher some German instructions on a washing machine and translate a menu from Spanish. According to a recent survey, one in ten people resort to using their phones to communicate when they are travelling.
Before the existence of the Google Translate app, I’ve had some embarrassing “Lost in Translation” moments. Like that time in Florence when I just guessed what I was ordering and ended up with a family sized plate of lamb chops. Of course, the horrible waiters didn’t bother correcting you even though they speak English perfectly well. It seems up to 10% of Brits have a story to tell about ordering food and drink when abroad according to Holiday Autos. See other travel horror stories in this video.
Since then, I have also used the Michel Thomas language courses to learn languages very quickly and effectively. The basic course takes 8 hours of just listening with no writing or reading. You can do that in one week’s commuting time. I found that I could watch a Spanish film and understand most of the dialogue after just 5 hours.
I did the Italian language course too and in just a few hours, my vocabulary expanded by a few hundred words and I could follow most conversations on my trips. Conversing in Italian after this was still not that easy but at least I had enough words to make myself understood. Learning more about food names have so far prevented another bad ordering mishap. I highly recommend this method of language learning.
I also use the really clever DuoLingo app on my phone to brush up on my vocabulary. You can learn a few different languages with this free app and it just takes a few minutes a day.
Have you had your own “Lost in Translation” moment while travelling? Do share in the comments below.
This post was written in collaboration with Holiday Autos.