Lost in the Mail: Language Barriers Abroad

Extras, Lost in the Mail, Planning — By on July 29, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Spanish Dictionary Q. I’m considering taking a RTW trip next year, but worried about the language barrier in the countries I want to visit. How did you handle this when you were abroad? Did it cause difficulties for you? -Jessica

A. Shockingly, in nearly every country around the world, we found that it was fairly easy to just use English…it’s truly become the international language. Don’t let a fear of not being able to communicate stop you from traveling. In the highly touristed areas, locals can almost speak English better than we can 🙂

That said, its always helpful-and much appreciated gesture-to buy a guidebook and learn a few phrases in the local language. We kid you not when we say that the three of us practiced saying “no butter, no oil, please” in Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish and Portuguese. This handy command helped us break the ice in many a restaurant-but never actually worked out as intended. Maybe something was lost in translation?

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  • Nomadic Matt says:

    Hand gestures go a long way too. In major tourist areas, you’ll have no time. off the beaten track, you might have some issues. Learn a few phrases but remember pointing goes along way.

  • Melissa says:

    Its true what you say about hand gestures nomadic matt. I was in Africa on my honeymoon and the car me and my husband were driving got stuck in the mud and some guy came by riding on his bike. He didn’t speak any English, out through hand gestures him and my husband were able to maneuver the car out of the mud.

    I really like your blog lost girls. I just found a site that I think you might enjoy. http://www.baraaza.com You can share travel experiences and review different destinations. Its pretty cool you should check it out.


  • Melissa says:

    Hey here is the link to the site. They are in private beta but anyone can join.