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 be able to buy tickets, book a room in hotel, order taxi, use a restaurant etc.

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    In major parts of the world Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 21:36
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    @HaLaBi I think this is opposite of that.
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:28

5 Answers 5


I would say China other than Beijing and Shanghai. But even in big cities there are parts where people don't even understand "yes" or "no" Also, recently I had some troubles in Spain as well. So, I guess if you can also learn Chinese and Spanish then you could be anywhere in the world.

  • Your list isn't complete but the idea is--in China English is basically limited to those who deal with tourists and those with good educations--not the sort of person a tourist will usually be dealing with. We have run into those with fairly good English a few times in areas that don't attract foreign tourists but these have been native tourists with 4-year degrees or higher, not people you would be dealing with. Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 4:50

For example South America. In my experience, English knowledge was generally poor. You would need to know at least basic Spanish.

It would be easier to say, where English and Russian would be enough. I expect, that Russian would be useful only in former USSR and maybe some Eastern European countries. In Western Europe should be relatively easy to find someone who speaks English. Then there are all English-speaking countries and their former colonies.

My bet is that anywhere else, than I mentioned above, only those two languages might not be enough.

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    I expect, that Russian would be useful only in former USSR and maybe some Eastern European countries - And that would be a wrong assumption. In Israel where 20+% of the population are immigrants from the former USSR Russian is very common. In a lot of tourist places in Europe menus and tours in Russian are very common. Though speaking of the language is not common place but not really hard to find.
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:35
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    "In Western Europe should be relatively easy to find someone who speaks English" Impossible in Spain, hard in France and Italy.
    – vartec
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:41
  1. In the central and western Africa. People beside of their own African languages know French and Arabic in most African countries but they do not know English or Russian.

  2. Small cities or rural areas of most countries around the world that they do not speak English or Russian and only know their own mother tongue. You can find them from India, Turkey, Iran and China to South America even in Europe in France, Italy, Germany or Spain!

I think more than Russian it is better to learn Spanish and French. Nowadays knowing Mandarin can help a lot too!


The former satellite states of USSR. While old people still speak Russian there due to enforced "friendship" with the USSR, many people are now much more hostile because of the tainted past of oppression.

While driving in the rural parts of Poland, I needed extensively my word list of polish phrases. Forget English and Russian there, I was even more successful with native German. Young people in the cities are eager to learn English (searching jobs in Western Europe), but in the more remote parts Polish is the only option. I suspect it is the same in Czech Rep. and Hungary, it would be fine if someone can confirm this.

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    Poland is a specific case. It's a big (40 mln) country, with almost no national minorities (~1%) or immigration, big internal work market, enormous number of literature, newspapers, TV stations and internet resources in Polish. Most people can avoid any contact with foreign languages without any visible disadvantage. Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 18:30

It'd be easier to just say where you can get by.

List of English speaking countries in order of % of English speakers.

A similar list for Russian.

Serbian and Polish and Ukrainian are very close to Russian so replace the Russian in the previous link with Polish and Serbian and Ukrainian.

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    Polish and Russian... My friend was able to communicate with fisherman in Georgia, and if they didn't understand a word, they were looking for synonyms. Normally 1 of 3 (including archaic words) was similar. So if you are really fluent Russian speaker, have a lot of time and patience, you can try... Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 18:18

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