Travel myths, irrational beliefs and misunderstandings can be confusing. Solo travel is dangerous, eating out with foreigners will lead to food poisoning, and planes are constantly falling from the sky. You don’t have to believe all the fearful things you hear.
In the last few years, I have traveled to more than fifty countries, taken hundreds upon hundreds of trains and flown to many other places. My worst experience was my phone being discreetly stolen in Amsterdam. Or misplaced, that is still up for debate! I also suffered mild food poisoning in Guatemala. These were both unexpected inconveniences but not fatalities that would stop me from exploring the rest of the world.
Tragic things can happen. This is true regardless of whether you’re in a foreign or domestic country. Don’t let your fears stop you from exploring the world. Just know the facts, and take normal precautions. These are some travel safety tips that can help.
How to deal with language barriers
Fears of communicating with someone from another country, especially in an emergency, are common among people. This was something that intimidated me in my early travel years. It is a lot easier to speak the native language than the destination language, but what do you do? Learn the language for each country you visit. I struggle to speak English properly. It’s not necessary to speak English in large cities, as English is now the standard language for travel. It is easy to find someone who can speak it. Many major attractions, menus for restaurants, and signs on roads will also include English translations.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language. There are many ways to help you communicate on your trip abroad.
1. Get an app Smartphones and translation apps make it easy to locate your way, buy souvenirs, or order fancy cappuccino. Google Translate and iTranslate are lifesavers as they can translate paragraphs, images, and text.
2. Learn common words and phrases You will be appreciated by everyone, even if it is just a joke. Learn the basics of how to say “Please”, “Thanks”, “Hello”, and “Good-bye”, as well as my most used phrases “Where is the bathroom?” or “Can I have a glass?” A few safe words such as “doctor”, “police” and “police” can be learned.
3. Use visual forms of communication Even before the advent of new technology, I was able to navigate a city using only gestures. Pointing, nodding and even using the thumbs up sign were all that I used. Although it isn’t the most efficient way to move around, it’s much more comfortable than sitting on the couch. A notebook can be used to draw or keep track of important information. This is particularly useful for those traveling with allergies. Select Wisely and Allergy Translation offer allergy translation cards.
4. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling, or not. Sometimes it can be frustrating when people have trouble communicating. Try to communicate as slowly and understandingly as possible. If the first words don’t work, try using simpler words.
Solo Travel: Fears
Every year, thousands of people travel alone and safely. Although fear can be fuelled by preconceptions about dangers in a country, the world is generally a safe place. Fearing to travel alone would have prevented me from feeding the monkeys at the Monkey Temple, Thailand, and never getting to soak in the thermal baths of Switzerland.
Do not let fear of something new keep you from doing it. However, don’t travel alone if you’re naive, unprotected or have not taken the necessary precautions. It is a good idea to keep the same safety guidelines as at home when you travel abroad. It is unsafe to wander the streets at night, get drunk at a bar alone, or accept rides from strangers.
Listen to your intuition. You all have different comfort levels so listen to your intuition.