It is easy to travel to Europe if you don’t know a foreign language. Chances are you don’t have to speak English at all, at most a Thank You! (Thanks!). If you have a problem and English is the barrier I think you can handle it differently.
Seeing how others did and how I did when English wasn’t enough, I thought of a few things that can make your trip easier. But most importantly, to help you travel without speaking a foreign language. It’s nice to be able to talk to the locals, but the beauty of the places is not just that. However, in countries such as Spain, Italy or France, locals are not the best foreign-language speakers.
The ideas below may also be useful if the person you interact with doesn’t know English. Sometimes it is almost useless to know a foreign language if you do not know the local language and it is very likely to have to improvise.
Useful things that will help you communicate
Paper and pen – When you can not speak or gesture enough, it is necessary to write or draw. It occurred to me in Paris to write down the numbers on the sheet of food on the glass menu, otherwise, the other person would not understand. If you have talent, you can draw.
Phone and internet – roaming taxes will soon disappear and you will be able to use the phone from anywhere in the EU at no additional cost. I have been using the Internet successfully during my trips since it became more accessible and it makes it easy for me to search for restaurants or orientation in general.
Phone apps – I recommend at least Google Maps and Google Translate. For attractions, it is a practical and useful Google Trip application. All three are free and only Google Translate uses the internet, the others can save information on the phone. I saw the ad in many applications that translate to what you speak, I have not tested any and I can not make any recommendation.
The plan with what you want to visit, ideally with pictures. There is no need for a breakdown by day, but a sheet with written objectives can keep you from talking.
The map – if you do not have Google Maps you will need paper support. Either buy it when you arrive, or ask for it from the hotel. All the hotels should have such a map. You can stop any local to tell you where you are and you certainly won’t talk much. It has happened to me many times to help people orient themselves even though I was a tourist … but I used Google Maps.
The hotel business card – in Asia I started to get one and there it is really recommended. It is very useful if you want a taxi and the taxi driver does not know English or does not know where the hotel is by name. You show your business card and so you don’t have to talk and get to where you need to be.
You can have a great trip although you don’t speak English or the local language. Our piece of advice will surely come in handy.