Chances are, some of the most thrilling and beautiful places on the planet are located in countries whose languages you don’t speak. Are you going to let that dissuade you from exploring every inch of the globe? Of course not. You’re just going to make some smart moves in advance to ensure a successful and enjoyable excursion.
Sign on for a Tour
You can reduce the guess work immeasurably by taking up with an adventure tour. The leaders of your expedition won’t expect you to know the lingo. They’ll do a lot of the speaking and arranging for you. This is a requirement, anyway, for many of the globe’s most iconic natural wonders—lots of national parks around the world frown on letting you just hike up the side of a mountain unaccompanied—so you can focus on the beauty of nature surrounding you, not the confusion of feeling adrift.
Learn Some Basic Phrases
Wherever you go, it’s helpful to know roughly how to express distances, directional words, and other navigational stuff in the most widely spoken language of the area. You might not ever get separated from the group, but it will be immensely helpful should you find yourself in an emergency situation demanding interaction with rescue authorities. Your life will be a lot easier knowing at least some of the right things to say.
Get Familiar with the Culture
A lot of things are communicated via words, but many things aren’t. Almost more important than knowing the native tongue is knowing how the locals “speak” with their body language, their traditions, and their other demonstrations. Friendship is universal, and it’s often possible to understand each other without even using words.
Be Willing to Try, Be Willing to Laugh (At Yourself)
Humility goes a long way in these situations. If you bluster in speaking loud, slow English, you’re not going to win any friends. If you do your best, by way of pidgin and charades, and do it with a calm lighthearted attitude, you can more easily endear yourself to everyone around you. The miscommunications we all face in these situations can become great, hilarious memories if we check our ‘tude at the trailhead and let ourselves relax.
Ask How to Say Stuff
Everyone appreciates being treated as an expert. Allow the local speakers to help you improve your knowledge. Especially take advantage if they are multilingual and speak a bit of your own native language. If they want to learn a little themselves, show that you’re excited to help them improve their vocabulary, too. Everyone gets a valuable linguistic and cultural experience out of the deal. When your sincere goal is mutual understanding, you enrich your life in tons of ways and become kind of an ambassador for global communication in the process.