Travelling abroad? Top tip, learn some lingo….

When ever I travel, I always make an effort to learn some local language of the country I’m going to. I’m fascinated with foreign languages & culture, it’s part of the reason why I love to travel. I can speak Arabic & Farsi to a basic conversational standard. I did courses in both languages when I was in the British Army, later putting them to the test while working in Iraq & Afghanistan. Post Military when I was working as in Iraq as a Close Protection Officer (Bodyguard) my driver spoke very little English, this forced me into picking up Arabic very quickly ”Turn left, NO! The other left!!” After a few minor dints to our vehicle, my Arabic came on leaps & bounds….consistency is key.

So why should you learn some lingo before you travel?

Having a basic understanding of local language can have huge benefits when travelling, it’s great for breaking down social barriers and it could actually keep you safe and potentially save you from getting scammed or ripped off. If you speak with confidence you can create a perception that this isn’t your ‘first rodeo’ in another country and anyone looking at you with sinister intentions may think twice. Also, you will find the locals will respect you more, they’ll note that you’ve been mindful to pick up the basics and it will go a long way. If you get things wrong don’t worry, it can make for a good laughing point and smiles are accepted in most countries in the world! I remember going through a military checkpoint in Pakistan, as a young soldier leaned into the window with his AK47 to check my visa (the barrel of his weapon far to close to me for comfort) I just said “hello” in Punjabi he fell about laughing, then took a quick glance at my credentials before letting me through.

So what should you learn?

Keep it simple, I usually pick 5 phrases and aim to keep them short & sweet. The key isn’t to over complicate things, so you don’t forget. The words & phrases I usually go for are things like “Hello” “Please” ”Thank you” “How are you?” & “Have a nice day” Once you get more confident you can progress onto more advanced phases, like the really important ones such as where is the nearest bar & can I have a beer please!

Safe travels….