Breaking down local barriers

making new friends in KenyaA simple Ni Hao, Hola, Namaste or Mehaba could change your trip. Learning a little of a country’s local language before you visit is one of Intrepid’s Top 12 Responsible Travel Tips. Even an easy hello or thank you in the local lingo will open up a whole new world and as Intrepid’s Amy Bolger explains, people will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to learn about their culture…

“Whilst attempts to pronounce something in another language can often leave the locals giggling, it is always well received and quite often has its advantages. A little smile and Ni Hao to a family on a 14-hour train ride across China opened up a whole new world of Chinese food for me – I was offered (quite insistently) an array of local cuisine they had packed for the long journey – they were obviously seasoned train travellers and I tasted delicacies that I would have otherwise never discovered. No 2-minute noodles in sight in our cabin!

On another trip in Lebanon, my “hello, how are you” must have been so well pronounced that one girl mistook me for being Lebanese and began speaking to me about all sorts of things. I politely stopped her and let her know that greetings were the extent of my Arabic language skills. Luckily she also spoke English and our conversation continued. Without the initial greeting though, I wouldn’t have been privileged to such a personal insight into the life of an independent Lebanese woman and what it was like growing up in a war zone, plus I would have missed out on making a great new friend.

So if you’ve got a trip planned, we highly recommend getting a few local words under your belt and you can download Intrepid’s FREE language guides to get you started. Knowing a bit of the local language will add to the cultural immersion of your trip. Whether it leads to being invited to share a meal with a local family, the opportunity to learn more about the culture and lives of the people of the country you are visiting, or simply returns a great big appreciative smile – learning some of the local language is part of being a responsible traveller.”

Ever had your own experience when learning the local language has made all the difference?

* photo by Annina Gutmann – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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