March 2021

Why You Should Start Booking Your Future Trips Now

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A destination signboard in an airport
Posted: 3/29/21 | March 29th, 2021

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting over a year for this moment. That light at the end of the tunnel — where we are mostly vaccinated and can hug strangers, go to concerts and crowded bars, and travel the world again.

Sure, in the past year, many parts of the world have been open to visitors and some people have been traveling. Nor has the pandemic stopped people from pretending it’s not happening and crowding into packed bars (see Florida).

But what I’m talking about is that tipping point for the rest of us. That time when infections, hospitalizations, and deaths dwindle to the point where a majority of the world reopens, conferences and events are held again, attractions open, and the rest of us cram into bars again to make out with strangers on a drunken night.

We’re not there yet — it will take at least another year or two before we’re fully “back to normal” — but every day we inch closer to a post-COVID world where things open up and we have options again.

It looks at least the United States, the Middle East, parts of Europe, Central and South America, and many Caribbean countries will be “open for business” by mid-summer (if not sooner).

In fact, many countries are already allowing visitors to skip mandated quarantine / PCR testing if they are vaccinated (Iceland, Greece, Israel, and Ecuador, for example, and Thailand is already considering doing the same).

And, with all this palpable excitement, as Vice recently reported, people are starting to book trips again — so much so that many destinations are already filling up.

Before the pandemic, most people would book their trip one to two months before they left. During the pandemic, it was down to one to two weeks, as people were worried about ever-changing rules and restrictions.

Now, travelers are starting to do that four months or more out, in anticipation of destinations reopening.

Airplane ticket prices are rising, and tours are filling up, as are campgrounds. Accommodations, especially Airbnbs, are selling out fast — and those prices are rising too, as demand for them increases due to people looking to be self-contained rather than in a hotel. (But if you want a hotel, that means you’ll find incredible rates and lots of options).

And the awesome travel deals we are seeing now won’t last forever.

In short, you should start booking your travels now (but purchase refundable tickets).

And it’s not just in the United States.

Greece, France, Spain, Italy — all these summer hotspots are getting booked on the assumption that they will be open again by then. I’ve spoken to a number of travel agents that are having a hard time finding hotels and resorts for their clients.

That doesn’t mean the situation can’t or won’t change. A new strain might appear, the world might shut down again, countries might delay opening if their own population’s vaccination program takes longer than expected. Who knows? The summer may be close, but in COVID years, it’s a long time away.

That’s why you want to make sure you get refundable bookings.

But, as they say, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down, paying higher prices for your summer or fall vacation.

Right now, everyone in the travel industry needs money. They want to fill seats on planes, spots on tours, and rooms in hotels. There are a ton of deals at the moment — even to countries that are closed right now, because people are anticipating they will reopen by the summer.

But the current deals won’t last long.

Because people will start to get more comfortable taking trips and the outlook begins to brighten, prices will rise with demand. There’s a lot of people waiting to travel: people who postponed 2020 trips, people who had trips already booked, and people who, after COVID, have decided not to wait any longer.

That, coupled with reduced capacity and options, means that prices will creep up (a lot).

So, regardless of whether you’re staying within your own country or flying to some exotic locale, I’d start booking your trips right now.

Don’t wait.

Better to catch these deals now, even if your plans are fuzzy, rather than paying more later.

Smart travelers book when the deals happen.

Be a smart traveler.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Why You Should Start Booking Your Future Trips Now appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Get Paid When Your Flight is Delayed

Posted By : webmaster/ 69 0


An airplane parked at a gate at an airport in Europe
Posted: 3/27/21 | March 27th, 2021

Things don’t always go as planned on the road. Lost luggage, delayed flights, travel scams — there are tons of things that can derail your trip.

While serendipity, mishaps, and surprises are part of the allure of travel, the one mishap no one likes is a delayed flight.

There’s no fun in missed connections and long delays, especially after little sleep and long travel days.

As someone who flies regularly, I’ve experienced pretty much every hiccup there is. Delays, cancelations, lost or delayed luggage, overbooked flights — the list goes on.

While I always buy travel insurance before I go abroad, there is actually a company out there designed specifically to help travelers secure compensation when flight delays and cancelations strike.

It’s called Airhelp.

Since its founding in 2013, AirHelp has helped over 16 million people get compensation for delays and canceled flights arriving in or departing from the European Union.

I used them in 2019 when I was on my way to Paris. My connecting flight was delayed over eight hours and, thanks to EU rules, I was entitled to get compensation from the airline.

The problem was that I didn’t really want to chase TAP Air Portugal for months on end. People said that they drag the process out in hopes you’ll give up (which many do). As someone who was only in Europe for a short time, I realized the last thing I wanted was to spend my little time in living in Paris on the phone with TAP. I mean who wants that kind of stress in the land of wine and cheese?

So I decided to use AirHelp.

In the end, it took about five months before I was refunded my money. But it was refunded and all I had to do was fill out a small form. AirHelp took a considerable percentage, but I got everything the EU said I was legally entitled to receive.

So, if you’re traveling to/from Europe on a European carrier and there’s a mishap and you’re wondering what to do, here’s an overview of how AirHelp can help you get compensated for delayed and canceled flights:
 

What Does AirHelp Cover?

A screenshot from the airhelp website
The EU has strong consumer protection laws, which means that if you have a flight arriving in or departing from the European Union and it is delayed or canceled, or if you experience certain other circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation, which ranges from $300 to $700 USD, depending on the severity of the delay.

Note: If your flight does not originate or arrive in the EU, or if the carrier is not headquartered in the EU, you’ll be unable to apply for compensation.

Here’s a quick overview of what is covered by AirHelp:

  • Delays of over three hours where the airline is at fault (i.e., no weather delays)
  • Flights canceled with 14 days of departure and no suitable alternative is offered
  • Overbooked flights
  • Missed connections due to delay, cancelation, or overbooking
  • Lost or damaged luggage

For an in-depth look at AirHelp’s coverage policies, check out its detailed guidelines.
 

How Do I Submit a Claim?

To make a claim, simply visit AirHelp.com and follow the prompts, with your flight details and boarding pass at hand. It takes two minutes and is super easy. The site will tell you right away if you have a claim.

You can apply for compensation for delayed flights up to three years after the date, which means if you’ve had a flight to or from the EU with a three-hour delay (or more) sometime in the past three years, then you can still make a claim for compensation.
 

Does AirHelp Cost Money?

Making a claim is free. You only pay AirHelp if it wins your compensation claim. It will take 35% of the compensation, however (50% if they have to go to court).

While that is a huge percentage, remember, you only have to do two minutes of work. Not a bad trade if it wins you a couple of hundred bucks!
 

Does AirHelp Work for Flights in the US?

In the US government’s own words, “There are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed.”

In order to apply for compensation via AirHelp, your flight must take off from the EU or land in the EU — and be flown by an airline with headquarters in the EU.

Unfortunately, if you’re flying a US airline, you won’t be entitled to compensation unless that airline has its own policy stating otherwise.
 

How Do the Compensation Rules Work in the EU?

EU Regulation EC 261 is the main protective piece of legislation that protects passenger rights in Europe. It’s the driving force behind your ability to make a claim.

Under EC 261, you are entitled to file a delayed flight claim for $700 (600 EUR) if:

  • You arrived at your destination more than three hours late.
  • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).?
  • You checked in for your flight on time.
  • Your flight operated no more than three years ago.?
  • The airline is responsible for the delay (operational circumstances, technical difficulties, etc.).?

It doesn’t matter whether the airline has already provided you with food or travel vouchers — they will still owe you compensation. As long as you meet the above requirements (even if you’re not an EU resident or citizen) you’ll be covered and eligible to make a claim.
 

Why Not Just Do It Myself?

You can definitely chase down an airline for compensation if you have time. Some airlines make it relatively easy while others will make you jump through hoops. If you have the time and patience, you can do it yourself and keep 100% of your compensation.

I didn’t want to do it myself. Time is money!

And I certainly don’t need more stress in my life.

AirHelp’s fee is pretty big but 35% to not have to deal with this was worth it to me.

You’ll save a ton of time and increase your chances of getting compensation by using AirHelp. It has a proven track record and knows how to get your money as quickly and conveniently as possible.

***

The next time your flight is canceled or delayed, don’t just settle for a voucher. Take two minutes and run a claim through AirHelp. A few hundred bucks in your pocket is better than nothing, especially when you could be spending that money on your next trip!

Note: This isn’t a paid advertisement. AirHelp did not provide me any compensation to write this. This is just a review of the service as many readers keep asking me about my experience using them.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post How to Get Paid When Your Flight is Delayed appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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It’s Time to Be Nomadic Again!

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Nomadic Matt looking at the landscape in Africa
Posted: 3/25/21 | March 25th, 2021

Slightly more than a year ago, I flew home from Paris with the desire to do one thing: stay in place. I cleared my travel schedule, signed up for dating apps, and joined numerous social clubs in Austin with two goals in mind. I wanted to: (a) find a girlfriend and (b) expand my social circle and make new friends in Austin.

I wanted to settle down and build a life for myself in the city. It was going to be a time when I planted some roots.

Then the coronavirus hit, and though I was still not traveling, I couldn’t do any of that settling-down socializing stuff because, well, everything was closed because of COVID.

Like most of you, in the past year, I’ve sat home a lot, read a lot, and cooked a lot — and was bored a lot. I’ve gone through bouts of “I’m going to make it through!” and sheer madness. It’s like this SNL skit (the video is only available in the US):

I did “travel” some. I drove home to see my parents in Boston and had a few weeks in Maine.

I spent six weeks in Mexico in an abortive attempt to live there for the winter.

But, mostly, I was alone in my apartment.

That’s not to say nothing good happened.

In the past year, a lot has happened on this website that wouldn’t have if it weren’t for COVID: We slowed down and reassessed our goals. We slimmed down our company, got a handle on our finances, and became thriftier. We started virtual events since we couldn’t do in-person events — and they are such a hit that we’ll keep doing them.

Though we had to cancel it this year, I feel good about where we are with the future of TravelCon, and about where we are at in general when travel returns.

And on a personal level, I got a lot better at cooking, learned to sleep better, cut down my alcohol consumption, and read a lot more than I normally do.

But here’s the thing: I never truly understood the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” until now.

Travel — an integral part of my life, my career, my identity — was ripped away from me. So much of what I took for granted was gone quicker than those via Thanos’ snap.

I may be an introvert, but travel is where I get to play the part extrovert — it’s the other side of this Gemini’s soul.

Before, I could go out in the world, be the extrovert, and then retreat to my house to books, Netflix, and my cozy introverted nature.

COVID took that away from me and, as a consequence, I felt a bit listless and empty over the last year.

But now, thanks to the vaccine, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m ready to no longer take things like travel, friends, and family for granted.

The pandemic has changed a lot about how I view life. While I still want to settle down here in Austin, right now, I have some living to do!

Last year, the pandemic shut down the hostel I co-own in Austin. After a year of being empty, the building is finally being sold, which coincides with my apartment’s lease ending.

So I’m selling my stuff, getting vaccinated (50% of the way there), putting the few things I’m keeping in storage, getting in my car, and driving until I lose the road. My general plan is to road-trip around the United States until the end of May, journey home to see my parents again, then, hopefully, head to the Middle East and Europe before coming back to Austin in September.

Specifically, there are a lot of national parks I haven’t been to yet that I want to see. I’ll drive west to the Grand Canyon, then up into Utah, visit all the parks there, then up to Boise, over to Portland, and down the coast to San Diego, where I’ll leave my car with a friend and fly to Boston.

From there, I’d like to do Oman and Israel before going to Greece then trekking around the Balkans.

On the first part of the road trip, I mostly don’t plan on seeing people. In fact, I won’t run into friends until I hit Salt Lake City. Before that, it’ll be just me, lots of podcasts, takeaway food, and the great outdoors! Even though I long to hang out with people and hug strangers, I’ll wait until more of us are vaccinated for that.

But it’s all up in the air depending on what’s open and vaccination rates.

Sure, it could all go to shit and none of it could happen. The pandemic has taught us that you never know what tomorrow brings. But there’s trip planning in my life again and the knowledge that some travel will be possible soon.

It will be good to get out there again. To see the world, to meet people, to write stories again. I had planned to write another book this year, but because of COVID, that plan is shelved until next year. Then again, maybe a new book will come out of this experience. Who knows?

You never know where the road — or the world — will take you, right?

So off I go on a new adventure, with gratitude for the ability to do that again and a larger appreciation for nature, my friends, family, and life in general.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post It’s Time to Be Nomadic Again! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Why I Hope This Pandemic Changes Our Attitude Towards Travel

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A crowd of tourists entering Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Posted: 3/22/2021 | March 22nd, 2021

Overtourism. Influencers flouting local rules for the perfect ‘gram. Ignoring the locals living in the destinations we visit as we book Airbnbs, crowd streets, behave badly, and generate waste that will stay in our destination long after we leave.

There was a lot of bad travel behavior pre-COVID.

Sure, there have always been tourists behaving badly ever since the first tourist existed.

But, in an age where travel has become so easy and ubiquitous for so many for the first time, those problems were amplified a thousandfold. Destinations didn’t have the necessary infrastructure to handle the flood of tourists cheap travel brought.

From flouting rules and refusing to wear a mask to hosting parties, coughing on others, and just generally being selfish, the pandemic has shown us that the world is filled with more assholes than we thought.

But, despite all of that, when it comes to the future of travel, I think the pandemic is going to make it better.

As we yearn to reconnect with friends, family, and the world at large, I think that what we’ve gone through has also given many of us a chance to reflect on all the things we took for granted: the outdoors, community, neighborhood restaurants, and the arts.

The sentiment I’m picking up on is that, when we can travel again, we will do so better and more thoughtfully. The vast majority of people I talk to and surveys I read show that people want to reconnect with local cultures, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, and avoid mass tourism. And they want to make sure their environmental impact is reduced.

The new mantra is: less is more and smaller is better.

That’s not to say that suddenly the world of “tourists” will be gone. There will be plenty of partying in Ibiza, Thailand, and Bali when this is all over. (Heck, I mean, look at Tulum right now. That place is crazy!) People can’t wait to get back on cruise ships. And I’m sure plenty of influencers will be back to flouting local rules for that perfect shot.

But I think, as a whole, there will be a lot more people trying to do better.

And that will be in part because the industry will reinvent itself.

We usually think of travel as “us experiencing a place”: we go somewhere, we do things, we leave. We treat places like museums.

There was (and still is) a general belief that travel is a right (it is not) and that locals should be happy with all the visitors (they often aren’t).

What many of us often forget is that people actually live in that place we’re visiting. They have lives and wants and needs and don’t like the crowded streets either. Whenever you’re thinking, “Ugh, there are so many tourists here,” well, all the locals around you are thinking the same thing too…and they have to live with that feeling every day.

But now, with so many destinations devoid of tourists, many locals (obviously those not working in tourism) are thinking to themselves, “Do we even want tourists back? If they come back, let’s make sure it’s done better.”

The pandemic has given destinations — and the industry as a whole — the opportunity to reset and rethink travel and tourism. Instead of trying to solve the problem of “overtourism” while the tourists keep coming — as if they were fighting the tide with a broom — they can now rethink tourism one tourist at a time. Everyone is virtually starting from zero.

There are endless examples of this, from Goa, Sri Lanka, and Prague to Italy, Iceland, and the Caribbean.

Moreover, travel companies are changing how they market to consumers, focusing on locals, going green, and touting their cleanliness policies. Hostels are reinventing themselves as digital nomads’ co-living spaces. Tourism boards are concentrating on getting people away from the hubs and spreading the tourism dollars around — or getting people to explore their own home, like in this New Zealand ad.

There is a movement among those in travel to use the pandemic as a chance for positive change. You see that not only among destinations but also big brands, resorts, and travel agent organizations too.

And that’s why I’m hopeful.

Because with consumers, destinations, and companies — the trifecta of the tourism industry — all looking to change their ways, travel is going to change.

Now is one of those once-in-a-generation opportunities people talk about.

When you start traveling again, think about your impact — both on the local people and the environment. It requires more work, but it’s important work. It needs to be done.

We can’t be as careless as we used to be.

I was already changing how I traveled before the virus struck, especially when it came to my environmental and waste impact. I wasn’t the worst traveler out there, but there was definitely room for improvement. But when more when travel opens up, I plan to use more local brands, stay at smaller hotels, go visit more offbeat destinations, do more cultural activities (especially focused on marginalized groups), and be even more conscious of my environmental footprint.

As a traveler, you’ll never learn about a place fully in a few days. No one expects you to. But that doesn’t mean we need to think about travel as a one-way street. Think of what you can give back too. If I take a piece of the places I visit home, is there something good I can leave? Is there something I can do to make the interaction more symbiotic than transactional? After all, people who welcome strangers want to learn about them too. Travel is, at its core, about people. That’s what made the sharing economy so popular.

Whether it’s donating money, volunteering while abroad, educating yourself on local issues, or choosing local businesses over multinational chains, think of ways to give back when you hit the road again.

I see a lot of positive change in the future and, from my conversations with people in the industry and readers like you, I think travel will be less extracting and more sustainable in the future.

It was already a topic of conversation before the pandemic and I think what we’ve gone through will accelerate those attitudes.

After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day

Nomadic Matt's How to Travel the World on $50 a DayMy New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”

Click here to learn more and start reading it today!
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post Why I Hope This Pandemic Changes Our Attitude Towards Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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6 Reasons You Should Learn the Local Language Before Your Trip

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Michele from The Intrepid Guide in Egypt
Posted: 3/1/2021 | March 1st, 2021

I love learning languages. They unlock new opportunities and open all kinds of doors when you visit a new destination. Even just learning a few words and phrases and deepen your travels immensely. In this guest post, Michele from The Intrepid Guide highlights the top reasons why you should invest in learning a new language before your next trip.

My first trip outside of Australia was to Italy. I had dreamed of visiting ever since I was little. I was so excited and nervous about my first big adventure that I planned each day in detail. I booked skip-the-queue tickets and outlined my whole itinerary so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

But what I didn’t account for was the language.

I’m the daughter of an Italian immigrant but I didn’t learn Italian growing up. We spoke English at home; the only Italian words I knew I could count on one hand.

While I had a great trip to Italy and saw amazing ancient monuments and world-famous art, I only scratched the surface of what Italy has to offer. I could barely buy my tickets in Italian let alone engage in friendly conversation with the locals. I felt insecure in my decisions and annoyed that I had learned Italian beforehand.

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.

Knowing the local language helps you in two ways:

First, you become instantly more likable to the other person. People don’t tend to rip off people they like. In fact, after a bit of small talk, you might even get a discount or some other kind of special service.

For example, during a language holiday in Florence, I had a friendly chat with the owner of a high-end store for a good ten minutes. He asked why I was there, then shared some interesting history about the famous Duomo (cathedral) located nearby, and I told him how much I loved Italy.

Before leaving, he gave me a beautiful zipper envelope pouch for no other reason than because he enjoyed our conversation. Years later, I still use the pouch and reminisce about that special day in Florence. The rest of that trip was a blur except for this unexpected interaction.

The second reason you should dive straight into the local language is to demonstrate that you have some level of understanding of how “things work” locally. The other person may assume that you’ve visited before and know your way around and how much things cost. This gives them less reason and opportunity to take advantage of you because you’re demonstrating you’re savvier than the typical tourist.

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. For example, some taxi drivers at Rome’s Ciampino Airport run a racket where they grossly overcharge tourists going into the historical center. An American friend of mine experienced this first hand during her visit.

Luckily, with her basic Italian, she managed to find another taxi driver willing to charge her the correct flat fee and avoided being ripped off.

Before I leave home, I always make sure to learn at least these two key phrases:

  1. How much does it cost?
  2. That’s too expensive!

These work hand in hand to show the other person you’re not one to be taken advantage of.
 
Michele from The Intrepid Guide by a canal in Europe

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!

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 in sight. 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.

After a brief conversation, all in Italian, our newly adopted mamma invited us around to her home the next day for afternoon tea! When we arrived, Maria welcomed us with two traditional homemade cakes. We stayed for a couple of hours, laughed, and took a photo together.

Before leaving, Maria gave us her recipes for both cakes. To this day, being invited into Maria’s home remains one of my most vivid and cherished travel memories.

When getting to know someone new and making friends, we often ask each other the same sorts of questions, for example, “What’s your name?,” “Where are you from?,” and “What [work] do you do?.” etc. The answers you give form your biography, which you will repeat more than you think. So, when picking up any new language, I learn my biography first. This way I can confidently initiate conversations and respond to these common questions. Sometimes the scariest part is starting a conversation, but if you know your bio inside out, this becomes less of an issue.
 

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.

No one expects you to become fluent before a trip, so even if you aim to only learn “Do you mind if we speak English?” in the local language, this nice gesture will be better received than if you shout, “ENGLISH?!” (Shouting never makes anyone better understood anyway.)
 

4. People are Nicer to You

Making any sort of effort to speak the local language plays a big part in how people will treat you. Their whole demeanor will change if greeted in their native language. They may look pleasantly surprised or even compliment you.

You don’t need to be fluent either. Being “travel fluent” and just learning a few essential travel phrases goes a long way. More often than not, you’ll notice that people are more willing to go the extra mile for you because they see you’re trying to be respectful.

Plus, it’s also very endearing to hear the accent of someone trying to speak your language. Just think of your favorite foreign accent (maybe it’s French or Italian), and imagine someone thinking the same thing about you when you speak their language!

A great place to get started is by learning these five words/phrases:

  1. Hello
  2. Please
  3. Thank you
  4. I would like…
  5. Goodbye

Once you’ve mastered these, then try to expand your vocabulary. The more you learn, the more confident you’ll feel using the language.
 
Michele from The Intrepid Guide in snowy Norway

5. You Get to Really Know a Place

Nelson Mandela famously said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

I love this quote because it perfectly sums up the power of speaking to someone in their mother tongue. Languages are like bridges: they unite us. When you speak to people in their language, you’re able to go below the surface of a destination and have an authentic experience.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bonded with complete strangers (especially in Italy, France, and Spain), who light up when I tell them I’m from Australia. They go on to tell me they have a cousin, brother, or some other relative who moved to Australia and how much they’d love to visit one day. It’s wonderful to hear their stories.

This also gives you the opportunity to learn about the place you’re visiting and the people who make it special. Before you know it, they’re sharing local tips and recommendations.

My suggestion is to make the most of seemingly inconsequential moments during your trip, so you can dig beneath the surface. For example, during your taxi ride from the airport to your hotel, ask the driver “Can you recommend a good restaurant?” or “Where is your favorite place in X?” You’ll be amazed at the variety of suggestions you’ll receive, many of which you won’t find in any tourist guide either.
 

6. It Could Change Your Life

With some of the local language under your belt, there’s no telling what sort of long-lasting effect it can have on you. It might inspire you to learn a particular language more seriously, motivate you to learn the local language before every trip you take, or even move somewhere!

My first trip to Italy was all it took for me to decide to start learning Italian seriously. I had such a wonderful time there and felt so at home and welcome that when I returned to Australia, I dedicated the next three years to studying Italian. When I reached fluency, I quit my job and moved to Rome, where I lived for three years, made new friends, learned a new culture, and adopted a healthy way to live.

It was the best time of my life. It even inspired me to create The Intrepid Guide, a travel and language-learning site designed to help travelers have equally amazing and life-changing trips, all thanks to the power of languages.

***

There is a misconception that learning a language is a difficult process. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. With the right resources, methods, and with a bit of patience, you can learn any language at any age.

This is why I created Intrepid Languages, a series of no-nonsense language courses specifically designed to get you speaking the local language ahead of your trip. No rote memorization oe fluff!

If you’ve read this far, then I know you’re serious about wanting to get the most out of your travel experiences. So, as a Nomadic Matt reader, I want to reward you with a special discount. Get 20% OFF any Intrepid Languages courses by using promo code NOMADICMATT at checkout. This includes Intrepid Italian, Intrepid Spanish, Intrepid French, Intrepid Norwegian, and more.

Learning a language is an investment. It will add depth to your travels and open so many doors that would otherwise have been closed. If you want to get beneath the surface of a destination, save money, and have a more memorable trip, then spend some time learning a language before you go. You won’t regret it!

Michele is “the guide” behind The Intrepid Guide, a travel and language-learning site designed to help readers enrich their travels through languages. Follow Michele on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. (And don’t forget to use promo code NOMADICMATT at checkout for your special reader discount.)

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

The post 6 Reasons You Should Learn the Local Language Before Your Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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