ASK THE EXPERT: Connecting with the locals
One of the best ways I’ve found to absorb the authentic qualities of a culture is to stay open to new experiences, and the best way to do that is to reach out to the local people—whether that’s at the reception desk, the corner flower stand, at the restaurant, or even while waiting for a bus.
Be curious, ask questions, connect, show interest. Of course, if you don’t speak the language, you’ll need a little help. Some travelers like to use popular smartphone apps like Duolingo, Babbel and Rosetta Stone. But if you don’t have an international calling or data plan with your cell phone provider, then perhaps you might prefer the handy Language Maps Series, available in a variety of languages, from AAA Colorado’s Travel Store.
These phrase-books-in-map-format make it easy to communicate and cover the basics you’ll likely need while traveling, including essential phrases for emergency situations, such as accidents or illness. Plus, you’ll never need to worry about your battery running down or the screen being hard to read in the bright sun.
With the peace of mind and assistance in helping you speak the local language, you can enjoy your trip and explore the unknown with greater confidence, even when you wander off the beaten path.