Use this tag when your question involves traveling where you know little to nothing of the local language.

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79
votes
4answers
11k views

What is a polite way to tell a Scottish person that I am struggling to understand his/her accent?

I am flying to Glasgow tomorrow. English isn't my mother tongue. In spite of living in London for the last 10 years, I still struggle with understanding different accents. My main concern about the ...
77
votes
9answers
4k views

How do you avoid “tourist traps” when traveling to a country where you do not speak the language?

Too many easily accessible restaurants and attractions cater heavily to tourists, and, in doing so, create an environment that they feel will be comfortable to people from other cultures. Spending ...
43
votes
5answers
11k views

Will I be able to travel around India speaking only English?

I am to travel around some Indian cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and others. Will I have trouble speaking only English, or should I learn some phrases in Hindi?
41
votes
6answers
7k views

What's the best way to signal that I'd prefer to be served in English?

I'm traveling in an area where bilingualism - specifically, English - is extremely common. As in, I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't speak pretty good English in the two months I've spent here (...
37
votes
4answers
6k views

How do you know if a Japanese person means no when they say yes?

I have come across a few situations when a Japanese person will extend themselves beyond what they probably should to help people. I am often worried when asking them to do something that they will ...
32
votes
3answers
3k views

Stuck without toilet paper while travelling - what is the best approach?

Well, this has happened to everyone at some point - you find out there is no toilet paper just after you need it the most. Usually it's not a big deal, even in public toilet room you can wait until ...
31
votes
8answers
5k views

Communicating in Tokyo without Japanese

I'm going to Japan soon. (Like my previous question.) And I'm going to Tokyo. I'm not at all good at communicating in Japanese. A beginner, not even able to use it for basic purpose. How can I ...
29
votes
4answers
6k views

Leaving Italy without paying a fine for a bus fare violation

I'm in Florence on vacation with my parents and we've run into some trouble with the city busses. We took an ATAF bus and were confused on how the system worked. Apparently you stamp the ticket ...
28
votes
4answers
5k views

How severe will language problems be in Munich for an English speaker with no knowledge of German?

I have to visit Munich, Germany for a couple of weeks this month for business purpose. I am absolutely ignorant about German language. Although I won't be interacting with the locals much, I'll have ...
27
votes
4answers
37k views

Can we get by as English speakers visiting Iceland?

We're going to Iceland for the first time in September. Will we be able to get around ok just speaking English, or should we try to learn some rudimentary Icelandic? And is that even what their ...
26
votes
6answers
30k views

If I travel to Paris, can I get by with just English?

If I plan on visiting Paris, but not really the rest of France, is it still important for me to learn at least enough French to get by? Are people in Paris going to be willing to speak English if they ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a practical point in learning foreign words while travelling?

It is frequently advised for travelers to learn the basic vocabulary in whatever is the local language in the country they're visiting. The reasons usually given are: It can help in situations where ...
21
votes
6answers
4k views

How to overcome the language barrier when visiting France and Spain?

I may be traveling to France and Spain for business purposes, and I'm likely to mix some pleasure with that business trip. I do not expect many language issues during the business conversations. ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Will I be understood in all Portuguese-speaking countries, if I learn Portuguese in Portugal?

I really like the Portuguese language, but if I want to be understood in all Portuguese speaking countries (e.g. Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique), would it be enough to speak "Portuguese" ...
20
votes
11answers
5k views

Can you really get around everywhere with only speaking English?

I had a discussion with a friend on how many language one should learn to be able to be understood worldwide? My estimate would be with around 4-5 languages, but this is a gut feeling which I cannot ...
20
votes
4answers
19k views

What language to use in Georgia (the country)? Is English widely spoken?

I don't speak Georgian. I have been told not to use the little Russian that I know because it might be problematic considering the edgy relationship with Russia. My question is which language should I ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the meaning of this Indian gesture/greeting?

While on a business trip to India last week I saw two different gestures of greeting. Most people greeted me with the traditional Namaste greeting, with the hands held together, as below. However, ...
18
votes
2answers
6k views

How useful/important is French in Montreal?

I'm going to be in Montreal for several weeks-months for work this fall. I don't speak a word of French. It's my understanding that Montreal is the primary anglophone enclave for Quebec and that ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

How much Russian do I need to know for travelling within Russia?

Or alternatively - how well-spoken (and widely-spoken) is English? I intend to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk and Vladivostok. I feel like I might have the most troubles in the latter two ...
17
votes
1answer
16k views

How to know “your number” for a machine haircut in a foreign country?

When traveling for an extensive period of time, you may need to get a haircut in a country where you do not speak the language. I usually get a machine haircut and just saying or showing the number (...
16
votes
8answers
12k views

Languages spoken in the Netherlands

I'm preparing a trip to Amsterdam. I know that the official language is Dutch but I have read that 90% of population speak English. So, Is it enough to speak English or should I learn some basic ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Language problems at the airport?

I have a family member who speaks Romanian but not English, French or any other world language. If she flies alone, how can she pass through the control points (immigration, customs) at the airport? ...
16
votes
2answers
992 views

How to ask drivers not to take me to the bus station when hitchhiking in Thailand?

I'm hitchhiking around the world again and have hit a snag in Thailand. In Malaysia people generally understand a bit of English and generally "get" the idea of hitchhiking. A bit further north over ...
16
votes
2answers
68k views

What is the difference between “Gazole” and “Diesel” in France?

I am driving a car with a Diesel engine. I always thought that "Gazole" and "Diesel" were synonymous to each other, only to drive in a gas station which mentioned both terms, as in "Gazole" and "...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What is more widely spoken in the Baltic countries: Russian, Ukrainian, or English?

Wikipedia says that about a quarter of total population in Estonia, Latvia are Slavonic people like Russians, Ukrainians etc., and I wonder if Russian is well-understood and how natives treat tourists ...
14
votes
2answers
658 views

Holidays in Brazil without Portuguese

I consider a holiday in Brazil, especially Florianópolis. But I can't speak any Portuguese. Can I get around there with English and a little Spanish?
14
votes
2answers
660 views

Transit through Beijing - Languages?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Thailand this winter (from the UK), and the cheapest option appears to be Air China, with a 6-hour layover in Beijing (PEK). Given that neither of us can ...
14
votes
1answer
280 views

Owl Cafe in Tokyo where English is spoken?

I'm visiting Tokyo in late September and really want to visit an owl cafe. I've heard that it is best to go with someone who speaks Japanese as they usually give instructions etc only in Japanese. Are ...
13
votes
4answers
692 views

Quebec, responding to French in English: faux pas? [duplicate]

I'm currently visiting Montreal. In almost every store or restaurant I go to, I'm greeted with "bonjour!" I know just a little French and I could probably get by with a simple transaction, but then I ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How to “speak” Russian, if you don't speak Russian?

I saw this really amazing film, called Chapiteau show. It is one of those films, after which, you want to go there. Although it is a Russian film, imdb shows that it is filmed in the Crimea (Ukraine). ...
13
votes
4answers
349 views

Is it mandatory to have a language speaker of both inbound and outbound countries' languages onboard flights?

I always wondered, is it a must for airlines to have at least one cabin crew member who is able to speak the language of the inbound and outbound countries? I am asking this because I am thinking in ...
13
votes
3answers
829 views

If I want to travel to Brazil, can I get by with English?

I do not speak Portuguese, and only enough Spanish not to starve. English is my second language, but my first, Dutch, will not be very useful. Will people in Brazil be able to communicate with me? I ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Dealing with nodding or shaking of head confusion

I have recently discovered the hard way that nodding of the head for yes, shaking of the head for no is not quite as universal as I had originally thought. Sometimes, it seems, that shaking the head ...
12
votes
3answers
534 views

“Safe” typical dishes to order away from the tourist trail in Thailand when English is not supported?

I've found now that away from tourist areas, English is rare in Thailand both spoken and on menus. I've also found that some of the dishes we in the west think of as typical for Thailand don't seem ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

English in Hong Kong

I might be going to a 3 week camp (it's not really a camp, it's more of an academic program) in Hong Kong. How many people (a lot, a few, only certain occupations, etc.) speak English, and do they ...
11
votes
4answers
9k views

Can Westerners use the free Wi-Fi at Guangzhou international airport?

My route home at the end of my trip will have me on a 4-hour connection at Guangzhou airport in China. I've read online that it's an unpleasant airport but it would be more bearable if I knew I would ...
10
votes
7answers
7k views

What foreign language is the most common in Serbia?

What foreign language is the most common in Serbia? In which language have I the most chances to communicate with locals (in shops, railway stations, hostels etc.) if I don't know Serbian?
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I translate medicines?

I know that if I have stomach issues I can take an Enterogermina or an Imodium if things get severe. I know that if I have throat ache, I can take a Benagol. I know that if I have a strong headache a ...
10
votes
3answers
570 views

Languages in Bulgaria? [closed]

There is a realistic chance that I will be working in Sofia for a year or more soon. I care quite a lot about being able to communicate with local people wherever I am travelling, so I would like to ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Why is it difficult/how to make it easier for Americans to understand Australian accents?

In previous travels to the US I had slight communication issues with people on the East Coast of US (New York, Chicago) compared to the West Coast of US (LA, SF, Las Vegas, Portland). It seems to me ...
9
votes
2answers
547 views

How many accommodation types are recognized in German?

Next to the usual hotel aggregators like booking.com, expedia, etc I am using Google Maps to search for accommodation. It really works well if you search for accommodation in the local language. For ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Traveling to Chile without knowing Spanish?

We are going to Chile in November and are planning on doing the Isla Navarino Dientees circuit trek. We have booked our DAP flight to Puerto Williams and return cruise from Puerto Williams to Punta ...
9
votes
1answer
403 views

Going to gyms in Japan

I'm planning a trip to Japan and was wanting to do a Gold's Gym there and am curious how it'd compare to a gym in the USA. So with gyms in the USA I'll often go there with a drawstring backpack with ...
8
votes
7answers
877 views

Which languages to brush up on for Ukraine trip?

I am traveling from the US, and the only language I really know is American English. I will be visiting cities in various districts of Ukraine: Kiev, Chornobyl, Cherkassy, Kherson, etc. I will be ...
8
votes
1answer
130 views

Can I drive a rental in Russia (without high risk)

Of course I can technically rent a car, and I can drive it. My point is - is it secure/recommended for non-Russians? What are unexpected risks? I have extended driving experience in Paris, Rome, ...
7
votes
4answers
6k views

How to find “night and day” decongestant for a head cold when there's a language barrier?

So I've been in Tbilisi, Georgia for almost a week and the temperature is now dropping below zero Celsius sometimes and I have the dubious honour of being the first in my hostel to contract a head ...
7
votes
1answer
872 views

Picture cards for common tourist needs to avoid the language barrier?

I will be traveling around several countries (in southeastern europe) later this year. And I'm worried about the language barrier. It occured to me, that it would be cool if I had a collection of ...
6
votes
5answers
606 views

Where in the world knowing Russian and English will not be enough? [closed]

I speak Russian and English. Will those 2 languages be sufficient to travel anywhere in the world as a tourist? Or there are some regions where it wouldn't be enough? By sufficient, I mean, I would ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Would I be able to communicate in Vienna in German?

I'm planning a trip to Vienna. Since I know German quite well, I didn't foresee any problems... but after reading Wikipedia articles about dialects in Austria, especially about Bairisch dialect, I'm a ...
6
votes
2answers
256 views

What technique do you use to remember city names in foreign languages?

When I try to remember where I traveled or where I have to go to catch a bus, train or something else, I always have great difficulties to remember city names if they are in a foreign language. The ...