When I got back to Australia, that’s exactly what I did. Deciding to learn Italian changed my life forever, including where I lived, how I traveled, and my career.
Learning the local language is one of the best decisions you can make before any trip. Learning even just a few phrases allows you to communicate and experience travel in a different way. It adds depth and nuance to your trip, making it more memorable while also opening the door to new opportunities.
Here are 6 reasons you should learn the local language before your next trip.
1. You’re Less Likely to Be Ripped Off
One of the easiest ways to ruin a trip is being stuck somewhere or needing help but feeling entirely helpless because you don’t speak the local language.
Then there are the moments when you know you’re being ripped off but don’t have a clue how to get yourself out of it. This is especially true with taxi drivers.
2. It’s Easier to Make New Friends
Meeting new people and making friends is one of the biggest rewards of traveling. And it all starts with a simple greeting like Ciao!, Bonjour!, !Hola¡, Hej!, Konnichiwa!, or Ni Hao! A great place to get started is by learning these five words/phrases:
I would like…
On a girls’ trip to Sicily, I was traveling with four of my closest English-speaking friends, who all spoke various levels of Italian. On our first night, we found a restaurant located off the main street. It was overflowing with locals, with no tourist menu insight. Seated across from us was a small family. The head of the family, la mamma (named Maria), was intrigued by the five of us and invited me over for a chat. She was so interested in the story of how we all came to be in her hometown and this local restaurant.
3. It’s the Right Thing to Do
The most important reason to learn the local language is that it’s polite. It doesn’t matter if you travel to the Netherlands or Norway, where people are known to speak excellent English - the thing to remember is that you’re a guest.
Think of it like you’re visiting a friend’s house. Do you wipe your shoes before entering or maybe even take them off? This sort of common decency comes naturally, without really thinking about it. But since we travel less often than we visit a friend’s home, it’s as if we forget how to be polite.