Tip 13: Learn some local phrases
In my opinion it always pays off to learn some local phrases before your trip. Even if it is something as simple as hello, please, thank you and goodbye it helps break the ice. Even if you’re not into languages, learning a few basic words is quite simple, especially as you can use the Internet to help you.
For me, as a language professional, this aspect of travel is fun. I love learning more about different languages and picking up basic skills. This has created some comical situations while traveling, however. I have experienced a few occasions where I have used a language I don’t actually know and apparently convinced the other person I know the language in question since they have carried on talking to me without me understanding a word. A couple of examples. In Barcelona, I managed to ask a server whether they had room for two people for dinner without a reservation. They did and as he was walking us to our table he kept talking and I just smiled and nodded. In Amsterdam, I greeted the cashier in a store in Dutch and she started asking me how my day was, etc. at which point I had to say I didn’t speak Dutch.
As I already mentioned in my post on keeping your travel bug active good resources for learning a new language are Duolingo and Babbel. These learning sites progress in a certain order, however, so if you are just looking for a few phrases here is a useful resource, Omniglot. As always, YouTube is also a good resource, just search for “basic (Insert language) phrases for travelers” and you’ll find videos to learn from.