Whether you are well versed in the art of traveling or are new to the experience, it's great to understand the locals. In a new place communication with locals can ensure that you not only have an enjoyable journey but a unique one enriched with the local culture and customs. If you find yourself in a region where only a very few people speak English, here are a few helpful tips to consider when trying to communicate with the locals. The easiest is, of course, to get a small phrase book to learn common greetings and important questions like where is the bathroom. It also helps to search your destination on Google and learn about common hand gestures to use and especially ones not to use. Another tip is to seek out areas where there are many tourists. Places that have high volumes of tourists, such as, five-star hotels, banks, or restaurants most probably have someone on staff who speaks English.
Prior to visiting, search out key phrases, greetings, and terms, along with traditional customs. It would also benefit you to seek out hand gestures or acts of salutation, such as the Wai greeting in Thailand. To be on the safe side, write the most important phrases in a small notebook you can carry with you in your daypack. Nothing is worse than using a hand gesture familiar to you that means something totally different in another place. Not understanding the culture or language can make you uncomfortable and at worst offend the locals.
When talking to non-English speakers, use the simplest sentences possible. If you are looking for a place to eat, don't ask them where can I find a diner? They may not recognize the word diner, a common term in America, but they will probably understand the word eat and can direct you to a restaurant. Another tip is to try to ask questions that have a yes or no answers. These are the simplest and most likely to be the most helpful. For example, don't ask "What time will the train arrive?", instead as "Will the train arrive at 3:30, which leads to either yes or no.
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