It's common for travelers to experience anxiety when traveling abroad to non-English speaking countries -- particularly those that don't use our own alphabet. However, by learning a few useful tips and doing some careful planning, couples can save the stress and still experience the honeymoon of their lives no matter how exotic the destination.
1) Learn the Language (or at least a few words and key phrases)
Believe me, it will pay major dividends if you buy a language guide or phrasebook to help with basic conversational skills. Memorizing some key terms can really go a long way -- particularly common words like "thank you", "please", "hello/goodbye", and "good morning/evening." It also shows people that you have taken the time to get to know their language and country. In turn, they may be much more likely to help you out.
If you really want to get to know the language -- and have the time -- consider buying a language program like Rosetta Stone or sign up for a foreign language class at your local community college.
2) Use Pictures
For those looking to go beyond "hello" and "goodbye", think about bringing along a picture book that includes thousands of common objects and symbols. With an object book like Point It, you can easily bridge the language gap and point directly to what you mean.
This comes particularly in handy when traveling to multiple countries that speak different languages. It will also save you the hassle and expense of purchasing a number of language guidebooks. So instead of frantically looking up the word for "post office" or "coconut", simply point to it and there should be no more questions asked.
3) Let Technology Be Your Friend
Looking for accurate translations on the go? Consider downloading Google Translate to interpret text between 58 languages. The app is quite easy to use and even gives you the ability to speak your sentences instead of typing them (for 15 languages). After submitting your recording, listen to your translation spoken back to you. Perhaps best of all, the app is free and compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android.
4) Hire an Official Guide
In "exotic", non-English speaking destinations like Morocco or Bali, it's important to hire official guides for specific treks and itineraries. In many of these countries, official guides are properly trained and set up through the national tourism board. So whether you are walking within the medinas of Morocco or traveling to ancient temples and villages in Bali, consider hiring an official guide to ensure peace of mind and an authentic experience.
5) When In Doubt, Write It Down
Avoid confusion and stress by getting an English-speaking person to write down a specific direction, destination or message in the local language. For instance, let's say you've just landed in Egypt, completely jet-lagged, and you're immediately looking to get to your hotel from the airport. Make it hassle-free by having your destination written down clearly in Egyptian Arabic. Simply hand the address to your taxi driver to make sure there's no further confusion. This tip becomes especially important in countries that don't use the Latin alphabet.
6) Know the Local Currency
Familiarizing yourself with the local currency will be a big help during your honeymoon. Get to know local terms, symbols, denominations, and exchange rates, and learn about local tipping customs across a variety of situations. By being prepared, you may also help prevent any possible scams or fraudulent activity.
7) Learn About Local Customs
Be sure to brush up on the local customs of your destination(s). Even if you don't speak the language, certain gestures and actions (or non-actions) can be considered offensive or rude to many people. This can also apply to one's attire, food/drink, etiquette, greetings, photography, and much more.
For instance, in many Arabic countries it's highly offensive to reveal the soles of your shoes, which are considered very unclean. Consider reading the Global Etiquette Guide to learn more.