Want to go traveling, but don’t speak any other tongue except for your own? Don’t worry: here’s what you can do if you don’t know the local language.

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You may not have a natural talent for linguistics, and that’s okay – but you should at east learn a few basic words like “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” in a language that’s spoken in the country you are visiting. With Google translate and a myriad other internet services providing quick translations and language courses, there is no excuse not to!

Go Italian

A while back in my home town of Vilnius, I came across a bewildered Japanese tourist pawing hopelessly at his paper map and looking around. Vilnius Old Town is beautiful – but it’s truly a medieval maze of little alleys and passageways, so navigating it can be a tad tricky.

The hapless Japanese guy was looking for a restaurant that I happened to frequent, and since it was close by, I led him to the place. He thanked me profusely before disappearing to try out the famous Lithuanian cepelinai.

I don’t speak a word of Japanese, and he didn’t know Lithuanian, yet we managed to communicate by simply using facial expressions and hand gestures.

If you don’t speak the local language, this is your best bet. You may look a little ridiculous doing it, but do it nonetheless – and guaranteed, people will help you out!

Use Pictures

Seriously, carry a small picture book. If all else fails and you can’t explain “carburetor,” “steak,” or “campsite” using your best game of charades act, a picture book can come in handy. It can also help figure out what sort of meat is floating in your lunch soup (chicken? Guinea pig? Goat?) or where to find the nearest tire repair shop.

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