Five Tips for Adventuring Where You Don’t Speak the Language

adventuring where you don't know the languageChances 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.

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