Have you ever thought of learning a language for travel? Whether you have or haven’t, I want to convince you that learning a language for travel is a super easy and fun process. But, more importantly, once you know the language, it will improve your travel experience in several ways. So, today, I would like to talk to you about the 6 benefits you will have once you speak any language for travel, not only as a traveler but generally as a person.
I am a strong believer that foreign languages genuinely improve your travel experience and the way you live. I have experienced it on my own. Whenever I can speak the local language, my travel experience gets 1000 times better and more enjoyable.
So I want you to feel that tremendous satisfaction of speaking a local language when traveling. Here are the top 6 ways foreign languages will improve your travel experience.
1.Travel to less known destinations in Europe
“With languages, you are at home anywhere.” – Edward de Waal
Once, we traveled with my friend to Azerbaijan, and my flight was from Kyiv, in Ukraine. So I decided to travel to Ukraine from Slovakia by train to have a unique experience. Also, I wanted to stay a few days in Kyiv and explore the city… But you know what happened?
I crossed the border with Ukraine and had to change trains. If you look at online booking platforms in Ukraine, where you can buy train tickets… well, firstly, it is hard to understand. Everything is written using Cyrillic script 😀 same as in Russia. Secondly, it is difficult to navigate the sites… So I decided to buy it personally at the train station.
But when I came to the train station in Ukraine, Uzhgorod city, and wanted to buy a ticket to Kyiv, nobody understood me. Everybody was just speaking Russian or Ukrainian. Zero English. And I felt completely lost. Even when I wanted to find my train and the platform, I was desperate because I barely understood the signs.
I am sure many of you guys have had similar travel experiences. But this is when I personally realized how important it is to understand and speak the local language. Especially when it comes to less known destinations in Europe such as Eastern European countries = Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and even the Czech Republic. Having some language skills will enable traveling to less known destinations where not many tourists come and explore.
2.Educate yourself speaking foreign languages
“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.” – Roger Bacon
Languages make you a better and more empathetic person. It will change the way you look at the world. You will also become more confident in traveling to different areas because you won’t have a language barrier anymore. You can go to an African country to a remote location, if that’s what interests you, and learn something about the local tribes, how they live, and their traditions.
Or imagine you are driving the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, and you meet some locals there. You can entertain yourself and talk to them. Talk to other travelers. You will learn about so many things just from communicating with various people and travelers around the world. Languages are the mediator for your education out there.
3.Become a traveler – stop being a tourist
“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” – Chinese Proverb
You know a traveler and a tourist are actually two completely different things. Think about it for a minute. Just picture a tourist. Many people get this image of an annoying guy or a woman, taking selfies in front of every attraction in a city, going on crowded bus and city tours. Unfortunately, often not respecting the locals. I think none of us what to be like that.
But when you are a traveler, you genuinely travel more responsibly, are interested in the country’s culture and traditions, and want to speak to locals and learn something. Traveling as a traveler, not as a tourist, is an entirely different experience. Speaking a local language automatically gives you the status of being a traveler. You will be accepted by the locals, their community. They will randomly greet you on the street and want to talk to you, teach you something about the place, and recommend things. You won’t have a fear of asking for some recommendations and will explore spots where locals go. Not those touristic traps, where you spend triple the price as it normally costs. People will respect you more. And the whole world will be more open to you.
4.Connect with locals thanks to foreign languages
“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” – Rita Mae Brown
One of the most significant benefits of speaking a local language is connecting with locals. We, as travelers, want to get to know the country more in-depth. We seek unique places and genuine travel experiences. We look for people to connect with and listen to their stories. That is what traveling means to us – it enriches us in many different areas. Languages just boost this experience, and everything comes more naturally. Once you speak at least a few words in the language and communicate, locals will take you to places that a usual tourist won’t see. You will be able to immerse yourself into their culture, participate in their lives for a while, listen to their stories. And have an overall enriching travel experience.
5.Explore hidden gems of a country with foreign languages you
“The limits of any language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Being equipped with at least a few language skills will also make you a braver person. You will be more open-minded and ready to explore less-known places within a country, where you can speak to those locals and learn about their traditions. When traveling, I know that many people visit rather touristy places simply because they have this language barrier. But if you can learn and speak at least a few words of the language spoken in the country, you won’t mind leaving the crowd anymore. Instead, you will explore the hidden gems with ease and without fear.
6.Languages change your perspective on the world
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne
Knowing different languages, you will suddenly look at the whole world from a completely different perspective. This is so true. For example, when I speak English, I am a slightly different person than when I speak my mother tongue, Slovakian. You can really feel the difference. It’s like changing personalities all the time. You have them all inside you so you can switch whenever you want to. Isn’t that amazing? When I travel to France and speak French, ordering food in a restaurant, I feel connected to the French life and people there. I look at everything from a French perspective. When I am in Germany or Switzerland and speak German, I feel more like a tough German guy, taking care of cows in the mountains. When I come to Italy and speak Italian, I feel so relaxed and taking everything easy, like Italians do. And whenever I am in Spain speaking Spanish, I just want to do all the crazy stuff because Spanish is and sounds so insane :D.
And, this is not limited to Spain. I take on a different personality when visiting Spanish-speaking countries, or French-speaking regions, and can adjust my language skills to fit the dialects of the respective regions.
So, you can be changing these personalities inside you anytime you want. For a day, you can look at the world from a French point of view, and the other day, you will have a Spanish perspective.
These are the top reasons why you need to start learning a language for travel. In general, knowing a few languages makes you a better, more open-minded, and understanding person towards others. You will be a more responsible traveler listening to the needs of local communities. And it will broaden your horizons and change the way you look at the world and people around you.
That is why I have decided to teach you how you can learn a language for travel. Check out the strategy I have developed over the past 10 years learning languages on my own. I now speak 4 of them fluently, and it always enriches my travel experience.
So if you want to learn the basics of a language but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you have already started, but you feel stuck and don’t know how to proceed. First, get some advice from the article about how to learn a language in 7 basic steps. Then create your own schedule and learn a language completely alone. I will gladly help you to set up clear goals you can achieve. Finally, you can get the Language Travel Notebook that will help you to learn the language of your choice.
Let’s be more responsible travelers and enjoy our travels more without fear of having a few language skills in our pockets.