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benefits of learning a language for travel

6 Benefits Of Learning A Foreign Language For Travel: Stories From The Road

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Learning a foreign language makes us a completely different people. Of course, positively. Not to mention how many benefits it brings us, travelers. Learning a foreign language for travel doesn’t have to be difficult and frustrating. In fact, it is an exciting process. And if you’ve been following Voices of Travel for a while, you know I give you some tips and tricks for learning languages for travel.

If you’re still not convinced that learning a foreign language for travel will bring you thousands of benefits, keep reading. This article will explain the benefits of learning a foreign language for travel and motivate you to start learning. In the end, I’ll also give you a great method to learn a language for travel.

List Of Benefits Of Learning Foreign Language For Travel

  1. Makes you a better traveler
  2. Foreign languages make travel more exciting
  3. Language skills bring you closer to locals
  4. Languages help you understand culture of countries
  5. You’ll have a better travel experience
  6. Foreign languages eliminate stress when traveling

1. Makes You A Better Traveler

Languages can enrich the lives of others you meet when traveling.

If you can speak at least a few words of the language spoken in a country you’re visiting, it makes you a better traveler in several ways. First of all, you’ll be more open-minded to everything around you. You’ll be more connected to the people as well as things that’ll surround you every single day. Secondly, you’ll be more sensitive to the things happening. For instance, you might meet somebody on the street who needs help. A language barrier might be a problem here and hold you off. But if you speak a few words, you’ll be more open to helping. Also, you’ll be more open to new experiences and everybody you’ll meet. Finally, speaking a foreign language will help you get out of your comfort zone and talk to people more.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

Once I was traveling in Cuba, and we made a day trip to the countryside. If you know Cuba, people are living in quite poor circumstances on the mainland. Children are waiting on the side of the road, begging you to give them food or a coin. I wanted to get a bit closer to these people and understand them. Thanks to my Spanish skills, I talked to a few of them. They told me about their daily routine and how their life is in general. After, I gave some cookies to the children. And it just made their day.

Languages make you more aware of the things that surround you as a traveler. And bring you closer to them so that you can enrich the lives of others.

2. Foreign Languages Make Travel More Exciting

Speaking the language adds extra excitement for you to explore the country.

Let’s just admit that with foreign languages, travel is a lot more exciting. You have this motivation and desire to speak to locals. You can order coffee or food in a restaurant in the language, which will make you feel proud. It will be so satisfying if you can talk to locals in their language. And they’ll appreciate it.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

I could talk for months and years about the times when my foreign language skills made the whole travel experience a lot more enjoyable. Some of them would be, for instance, a local Catalan guy taking us to an adventure part and experiencing ‘selva de miedo’ in the Spanish language (scary forest). Or making a road trip from Barcelona to Andorra with my friends. Guiding a group through Barcelona and telling them interesting facts about Barcelona. My Swiss farm adventure and cheese making. Walking Camino de Santiago 3 times in Spain (famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela). Eating pasta with locals in Italy and road-tripping through Tuscany. Staying with locals in Azerbaijan, Baku. And the list goes on and on.

I don’t know if you’ve experienced it, but I love learning foreign languages for travel because of this one fact. It makes me feel so happy when I am in the country and understand the signs around me. I understand what the people are saying. It adds that extra excitement for me to explore the country.

3. Language Skills Bring You Closer To Locals

Locals will be more open to you and trust you. And you’ll make long-lasting relationships with people around the world.

Speaking a foreign language brings you closer to locals. You can go to places you wouldn’t think of due to a language barrier. Unfortunately, many people are still quite closed when it comes to foreigners. They might think you’re a random tourist that came to just do the most expensive activities and don’t care about the ecological situation of the country and the life of locals. As I have experienced, Swiss people are quite close, and it is difficult for them to open up for travelers. But not if you speak the language and are interested in them.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

I traveled to Switzerland and stayed on a farm with locals, making Swiss cheese. Since I speak German, the language itself brought me so much closer to locals. I was able to listen to the stories of an elderly farmer. He told me everything from the obligatory military service in Switzerland to cow milking and his own experience living in Switzerland. As I was able to understand him, we automatically made a connection. It brought our values and different culture together. And he also became more open and talked to me about more things, which I absolutely loved.

So the language itself will definitely bring you closer to locals. They’ll be more open to you, trust you more, and you’ll make closer and long-lasting relationships with them.

4. Languages Help You Understand Culture Of Countries

When speaking the local language, you’ll learn a lot about local culture, the way locals live, and get their know-how to things.

Another great fact of knowing a foreign language is that it helps you understand the culture better. Immersing into the culture when traveling is one of the most enriching things one can experience. For example, you can go and watch a Flamenco show that is organized by locals. Somebody told you it is much better than those tourist traps. And you’ll experience an authentic flamenco show. Or you might be in Italy and want to experience a winery. Go the off-beaten path and find a small winery, where owners will make a small tour in their own language and explain to you how wine is grown and produced. These farmers or owners might not speak English. But their know-how and products could be the best in the country. And if you speak the language, you can get the know-how and learn more things.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

Once I was in Italy, and we stayed in a cute Airbnb in the countryside. Local invited us for breakfast and told us they would take us on a small road trip through Tuscany. And this was because my friend spoke Italian back then. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast with homemade stuff such as butter, jam, croissants, and freshly baked bread from their little bakery. After, they took us to a local winery, where we had a small wine tasting. After, we had an Italian dinner with the best pasta. They explained to us how the pasta is produced and why they don’t drink cappuccino after dinner. The language brought us closer not only to locals but to their culture as well.

Exploring culture is one of my favourite things as a traveler. Especially in Europe, still not many people speak the language. And those people keep the culture in the country. When you know the language, you can understand this culture better and have a better experience.

5. You’ll Have A Better Travel Experience

With a language, you’re automatically open to a better travel experience.

This brings us to the fact that you’ll have an overall better travel experience. Wherever you go, whatever you do, people will look at you differently. They will also treat you better because you’ve made an effort to understand them. Locals want you to get closer to their culture, and if they see you speak the language, they’ll create a better travel experience for you.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

For example, I was traveling in Albania, where not many people speak English. I stayed in a hostel run by a lovely local family. The guy spoke English, but his mom only spoke Spanish. She wanted to talk to me all the time. If I didn’t speak Spanish, it wouldn’t be possible. She was so nice and even took me upstairs where the family lived and offered me lunch. After, she asked me if I wanted to drink something. I kindly asked her if I could try their local fruit brandy (Rakija). She brought the entire bottle and even gave me the entire bottle to bring back to my home country without hesitation. What a great experience.

With a language, you’re automatically open to a better travel experience. People can feel it from you, and they’ll take you to places other travelers might not have seen. Or they’ll give you things to try and create a much better experience for you.

6. Foreign Languages Eliminate Stress When Traveling

Learning at least a few words from the local language can help you avoid many problems on the road.

Last but not least, if you speak the local language, it eliminates a lot of stress from you. Just think about it. You’re about to get from one place to another, and people at the train station don’t speak English or any of your languages. Your body fills up with stress. Your train should leave in a few minutes, and there is nobody to help you. I know we’re in a digital age, and it is common to buy your tickets online through an app. But I am talking about the countries which still haven’t adopted this system. For instance, some countries in Eastern Europe.

My Personal Experience As a Traveler & Language Learner

I was traveling from Slovakia, through Ukraine, to Azerbaijan. My flight was from Kyiv (Ukraine), so I took a bus from Slovakian to the border with Ukraine. From there, I had an overnight train to Kyiv. Unfortunately, the bus for 3 hours was delayed because of the long border control. And so I missed the original train I booked before. I came to Uzhgorod (the city in Ukraine from which my train was departing). And I didn’t speak any Russian nor Ukrainian at that time. Additionally, all the signs were in the Cyrillic alphabet, which I also didn’t understand.

I had to buy another train ticket, didn’t have an internet connection, and nobody spoke English at the station. This definitely increased my stress level. I started to be slightly concerned about how to get to Kyiv.

I am sure you’ve gone through similar experiences when traveling in Asian countries or anywhere else, where English is not a common language. Learning at least a few words from the local language can help you avoid many problems on the road.

Inspiration For Language Learning

These are the top 6 benefits of learning a foreign language for travel. If you want to learn a language for travel, check out my article to guide you through the entire process in simple 7 steps.

Get my language travel notebook for free. It will help you keep track of the new vocabulary you want to learn. This notebook will also guide you through the entire process of starting to learn a new language as a beginner. So check it out. Click on the image below and download it now for free.

My Language Travel Notebook

Go to my language blog, where you can get further inspiration on language learning for travel. It’ll explain to you the best language learning method for adults. In addition, you’ll learn about the best way to learn a language by yourself.

Also, if you want more language resources, go to the section. I have some best foreign language books for you as well as language magazines. You can listen to some of the best language learning podcasts or practice speaking with native speakers on the top platforms practice speaking. 

I wish you a happy learning. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun learning the language. So choose resources that will make your learning enjoyable. 

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