Seasoned travelers are adept enough to navigate foreign lands without speaking the language, but multilingual travelers know speaking the native tongue can enhance your experience abroad tenfold. Need directions? Struggling ordering from a restaurant menu? Wondering where your change from that drink went? Communication enables access. And the more in-depth your communication, the more that access widens. But of course not everyone has hundreds of hours to focus on learning Yoruba, Mandarin, Danish or Spanish before their next big adventure.
That’s why Google’s translator app is one of the more useful tools traveler can download. Technology like this helps bypass language barriers, enabling more immersive travel experiences for explorers passionate about taking in the local scene over the guided tours, blogger suggestions and concierge recommendations.
Travel blogger Ciara Johnson knows firsthand the benefits of using a translator while abroad. “Like, I spent 3 hours trying to do laundry in China this year because of the language barrier,” she recently tweeted. During a taxi ride in Japan, she was better equipped. ” [I] got the chance to use a handheld translation device while traveling through Japan and was honestly blown away. What would have been a silent taxi ride turned into a convo about Japanese food, culture, etc.” Ciara acquired a Pocketalk for her trip, a standalone translation device that “puts the power of two-way voice translation in your pocket” with “highly accurate translations for 74 different languages.”
Got the chance to use a handheld translation device while traveling through Japan and was honestly blown away.
What would have been a silent taxi ride turned into a convo about Japanese food, culture, etc. pic.twitter.com/bJ63Rej69r
— Ciara Johnson (@hey_ciara) December 17, 2019
I don’t have a Pocketalk, but as an AirBnB host, I frequently have to break out the Google Translator app while interacting with many of my Asian and European guests. Communication technologies like the aforementioned have helped create some memorable experiences with some of those guests like cooking dueling dinners with a mother and daughter from Hong Kong. When it’s time to give tips on what areas to avoid in Los Angeles or which neighborhoods, restaurants, shops or art galleries to visit, I’m always reaching for the app.
In terms of travel applications worth your time, this one is a no-brainer. And if you have the money ($219 to be exact), Pocketalk might not be a bad idea either. The instant voice translator includes global unlimited cellular data for 2 years with no monthly fees, which means you don’t need to use your cellular data or a WiFi connection to use it.
Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.