How do you communicate while you are traveling if you don’t know the language is a question I get asked a lot.
The obvious answer is charades…well yes, of course, we all do it sometimes without even knowing, and the more you travel the better you get.
…but are there other options – YES!
One thing that is the same the world over is drawing, if you are capable and artistic a simple drawing on a piece of paper could be the difference between you getting what you want and not getting what you want.
…but I can’t draw!
To the rescue, this
Inside there are cartoon drawings of an array of things, food, clothing, hotel things, directions etc.
There are a lot of different companies that print these and most are around $5. This is great when you are offline and can’t Google a photo
Another option is Google translate on your phone, the app now has 103 different languages, but make sure you download the languages you want before you need them as it only works offline if they are downloaded.
Next option is Word Lens or similar app for your phone, that uses your camera to read the foreign text and translate it for you, it is not always perfect but its a lot better than guessing and finding your bike missing when you return because you parked illegally
…and the last a South Korean rider showed me when we rode in Russia together in 2014, with his phone he would take photos of the food we ate. He then would hand the phone to the person serving it, change the text to Cyrillic and ask them to type what it was.
Another addition we added was after eating to rate the food from 1-10, 10 being great, we would then enter a restaurant look at the menu. If Word Lens couldn’t read it, maybe because it was handwritten or unique text we would then bring out the phone and show ‘our favorites’…if that didn’t work we’d use Google translate and ask to look in the kitchen…crazy foreigners…we were never refused and ate very well for the whole we rode Russia together.