How do you communicate with people on your travels if you don't know the language? This is a question I see in my DMs all the time, and it happens to have an incredibly easy answer.
First of all, we all know that not everyone around the world speaks English. The fact that I'm able to write this caption, and that you are able to read it, this is a privilege we share that many people don't have access to.
I recently found myself sitting on a plane next to a retired French couple who spoke only French, and yet were travelling internationally. They couldn't figure out how to fill out the immigration form because it was only in English. I helped them, of course, but realized how much easier it'll be for me to get around at my destination, compared to the logistical issues they might face. I felt so very lucky.
And if you are a frequent traveller, learning every single language of every single country you visit is simply imposible. Neither is it expected.
So, here's tip #1 of 2. Learn a few words, at least. Not the swear words (I always refuse to learn those because I feel they attract the wrong kind of energy). Learn the hellos, the thank yous, the words that mean "nice", "beautiful" and "interesting". Showing this tiny bit of effort to appreciate their language goes a long, long way with locals.
But most importantly? No language skills needed. No speaking needed.
Smile. Just smile. A smile, for me, means that you're opening yourself up to the other person, signalling in an extremely fundamental - and universally intelligible - way that you have good intentions. Those famous positive vibes.
Whenever I'm in a situation where communication in a language isn't an option, I will gesture and smile, and laugh and smile some more. This technique has never failed me, because smiling is infectious.
Try it for yourself. Shoot a beaming, happy smile at someone in your office, or the cashier in a supermarket, or your taxi driver. They will ALMOST 😉 always smile back.
Photos by oliver_wheeldon