How To Work Around language & Communication Barriers When Traveling

Communication Barriers While Traveling

Communication barriers are common and one has experienced them at different stages of life which include professional and professional level too.Let’s discuss how could we face it while traveling and how to solve it.

Language Barrier While Traveling

A language barrier is a part of communication barriers thus, don’t mix it up and get confused.Communication Barriers wHILE tRAVELING

Traveling to a foreign country means one thing; there’s usually a language barrier. This is one of the more challenging aspects of traveling. A person or a group of people visiting a foreign country should anticipate that there would be difficulties with communication. It’s just how it is. Unless a person is visiting a country, with locals who are fluent in English, more likely than not, there will be a language barrier.

There are a lot of things travelers anticipate when going to a new country. But they often underestimate how difficult it is to adapt to a language barrier. Even if a traveler packs a translating dictionary with them or learns the most common phrases and words they will need to use, the complications of language will often mean that these are never good enough. Trying to understand or speak a different language does not just depend on the words a person knows. It also depends on the context, the culture and the perception of the listener. A language barrier is extremely difficult to overcome, not unless you actually speak the local language.

This is one of the first, and the most difficult problems tourists experience when traveling to a foreign country. They assume that a simple phrase book for the tourist can already help them communicate in another language. But too often than not, it’s the opposite. It actually limits them as they assume that it is all they need.

Tips to overcome a language barrier:

1. Use photosPhoto of Hotel Room

One of the easiest ways that travelers can communicate a question or information is showing this through photos. With most people using mobile phones, it’s easy for travelers to actually save photos that can help them communicate with locals. The trick is to save photos such as a toilet, a restaurant, a road sign, the hotel they are staying at, or any other place, establishment or item that they may be looking for. Travelers, who have this handy on their phones, will have the ability to show locals when they are asking for help or directions. Images are universal so locals will definitely know exactly what a traveler is trying to ask for as long as they have the correct photo to represent it.

To be 100% sure that these are available, travelers should also anticipate a lack of Internet access in any travel situation. Therefore, it’s important to do the research and to save the photos on a phone, before actually flying to a different country. By doing so, it is already guaranteed that these photos are available at any time they are needed.


2. Use translation apps

Technology, again, provides a good aid for language barriers. It’s no longer advised to bring a dictionary, as these do not have sentences, written in the right context or grammar as needed in different situations. There are already many different apps available for mobile phones that can help travelers translate sentences from English to another language. This is extremely helpful when a traveler is trying to communicate anything to a local who really does not speak or understand English. Having this handy will be extremely helpful for any traveler struggling with a language translate app

A traveler should make sure that their translation apps could function and produce translations without Internet access. This is important as travelers will not always have access to the Internet, but they will most definitely always need their translator.

As time goes, technology and applications are evolving, and today it is even possible to turn on the application that will translate foreign language in real time. All you need is a smartphone, and while foreigner talks to the application, a virtual translator will translate everything immediately. We recommend getting some quality headset to make sure you will be focused on translation, without getting interrupted by foreign words that you don’t understand.


3. Look for local guides or travel agencies

Another way a traveler can work around a language barrier is actually to look for people who speak their language. In most touristy places, it’s common to find tour guides or travel agencies somewhere in the area. If a traveler is really finding it difficult to understand a specific set of instructions, or directions, or if they really just can’t get the information they need, it’s important for them to find people who can communicate in their language. This means people who work in situations where they commonly communicate with tourists. Travelers should seek out travel agencies or tour guides, to ask all the important questions they need to be answered.

Travelers should be courteous and patient when asking for something. Even if locals can understand English, they may not be fluent in speaking it. Travelers should keep this in mind.

Thus, these are the possible solutions to the specific kind of situations you’ll face as a traveler in communication barriers.


There will be a lot of situations when a traveler will struggle with communication barriers in a foreign country. It’s something quite a lot of people forgets to anticipate before going on a trip. But it is definitely part of the experience. It doesn’t matter if a traveler is just a tourist, digital nomad, or backpacker because all travelers must be able to overcome the difficulties of language barriers when they are on vacation. It’s important to appreciate and respect the culture, country, and language that locals speak. But for travelers, it is also crucial that they find a way to communicate in a stress-free and calm manner. These tips will help any person overcome the struggle of language barriers, regardless of what language they are faced with.

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Article written by Ian Zonja

Ian Žonja (me), coming from Croatia. I am an IT student. This year I have gained bachelor's degree and continued in master's degree. I started writing 2 years ago, in the freelance market. Later I changed my expertise into digital marketing, and now I am mostly doing SEO and Social Media for other companies. I keep writing guest posts for mine projects, and mostly all clients are satisfied with my work.

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