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6 ways to tackle the language barrier when travelling for work

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Although English is a commonly spoken language amongst many international countries — 67 nations speak English as their first language, and 27 countries speak it as a secondary language — it’s not always a given that you can use it to communicate adequately when you’re abroad. Travelling for business can be stressful anyway, without throwing in the language barrier to contend with.


From downloading maps to use offline to working with a travel tech solution, we’re sharing a few tips to help you confidently navigate foreign travel without worrying about the language barrier.

1. Work with a travel provider who offers 24/7 customer support in your language

It’s the small things that are most important when travelling for work. And being able to contact someone in your language whenever you have issues is one of them. 

  • Feeling isolated is the worst when you’re flying solo, so make sure you have the communication infrastructure in place to support staff sufficiently. 
  • Time zones can make it impossible to communicate efficiently, so working with a travel provider who can offer employees 24/7 live chat support should be high up your priority list.

Suggested reading: 5 ways tech can help you meet your ground travel duty of care standards.

Here at Gett, we provide our customers with 24/7 live chat functionality, so, wherever they are in the world they can reach out for support around the clock. Read all about how Gett’s ground travel solution can help your organisation or get in touch with our friendly team. 

2. Consider creating travel cards

  • Writing down some helpful phrases can ease anxieties when travelling to a foreign country. Phrases such as “Do you speak English?”, “Please could you help me find my hotel?” or “Where are the toilets?” can help you prepare for your upcoming trip. 
  • Practise how to pronounce your pre-written phrases in advance, and before you know it, you’ll feel confident should you find yourself in a tricky language situation.

3. Take time to learn about their culture

This goes without saying, but remember, different countries have different cultures and customs.

  • Before you travel to a new country, read up on their customs and traditions. You’re human, so there’s still a chance you’ll make a mistake when talking to locals — remain calm and relaxed; all you can do is try your best. You’ll find most countries are forgiving of visitors if you stay polite and show you’re trying to learn their language to get by.

4. Download offline maps

  • If you’re using a trusted ground travel provider, you won’t need to use your map to navigate to meetings, but if you’re wandering around exploring, you might find it helpful to download a map using your hotel WiFi so you can explore easily without having to ask for directions. Downloading maps just gives you that extra level of confidence as you explore. 
  • To download a Google map, make sure you’re signed into the Google app and select ‘Google Maps’. Search for the destination and click on the destination address on the map. Alongside options including ‘directions’ ‘save’ and ‘share place’ should be an option called ‘download’. You can then position the area of the map you’d like to download; it should begin downloading immediately in the background.

5. Don’t forget about Google Translate

Where would we all be without Google, honestly? If you haven’t used it before, Google Translate is a fantastic free tool that can help you communicate in any language. 

  • Type in what you want to say, and select the language you wish to translate into. This is an excellent option if you’re asking answers to basic questions, but if you require a response from the other person, other than “yes” or “no”, they would also have to use Google Translate to translate their response back to you. 

6. Invest in seamless travel tech

  • You want the best for your travelling employees and your bottom line — and that’s why investing in global travel technology is the best option for your organisation. Working with an innovative ground travel provider means you can take advantage of seamless ground transportation, wherever you are in the world. 
  • Effortlessly book on-demand ground travel in your language through one app. Imagine just having one app for all ground travel needs? You don’t have to open several to find the most cost-effective, safe and reliable vehicle option — all pre-approved suppliers are together in one dashboard.

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