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Language Barrier while Backpacking

Throughout my travel experiences I have encountered many situations that put me into difficult positions due to the language barrier. Even though I speak English and it is the most common language in the world, there were numerous circumstances where I have felt frustrated and sometimes stupid. This feeling can at times change an individual’s reason to avoid traveling. Since a language is the only way to communicate and understand something effectively, many people get scared to even consider traveling to countries that don’t speak their native tongue. Yet, at the same time many people don’t take in to account that there are without doubt many ways to get around by communicating in several other ways, rather then speaking. For example, when I was backpacking China, there were plenty of moments where I was stuck due to the lack of communication understanding by speaking. So I found an easy way to communicate, which was by entering into a well known, large hotel were people spoke English and to have them write down exactly what I needed for the basics of getting around and purchasing things. So if I needed to get into a cab and find out the price for a journey I would just hand him/her the piece of paper. From there I would use my hands in counting how much the price would be. Now this was only one tool I used to get by without speaking the language. Although, when traveling countries that you can not understand the language, you need to take into account that there are many other basic ways of communicating, such as:

1. Before you go traveling that country, learn a few phrases or words that will get you by.
2. Bring a phrases book or use your cell phone. (app)
3. Show a picture or draw a picture. (A picture is worth a thousand words)
4. Point/show/use you hands/ act a little to express/communicate.
5. Have someone who knows both languages write out phrases to help you.
6. Travel with tours that speak your language.
7. Always carry around your hostel’s business card that has the address on it.

Those are just a few quick tips to follow if you do stumble upon a language barrier situation. It can be time-consuming and complicated to communicate with out speaking, there should be no way to be concerned about not being able to travel to a country because of the language barrier. Find and make ways to interact with others by using different forms of communication methods.

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