Language barriers holding Australians back from travelling

Posted: 15 May 2018 11:06 am

Potential explorers are held back by language barriers and missing home comforts. Here's how to overcome them.

While there are 50 English speaking countries in the world, where English is either the official or the primary language, it still surprises us to know that English is only the third most common primary language in the world. Mandarin Chinese, that quirky primary school subject, is at the top, followed by Spanish.

When it comes to travel, it's scary to know that so much of the world doesn’t speak our language and let's face it, struggles to understand the Aussie accent even when they do speak a bit of English.

If you've been craving that one truly limitless escape where you make the most of every experience and travel with no regrets but haven't been able to take that next step, then you’re not alone. Far from it.

Recent research from reveals that 40% of those surveyed globally want to be a limitless traveller but one in five travellers (20%) have never felt limitless on a trip.

Looking closer to home, a whopping 67% of Aussies revealed they are not adventurous enough on holiday with 25% of us stating we have never felt limitless while on vacation. It seems that things are poised to change, though, as the research shows a strong desire to push the boundaries while travelling, with over three-quarters of Aussie travellers expressing that aspiration.

The survey of more than 20,500 global travellers uncovers the barriers and anxieties which prevent us from making the most of each trip, revealing how they can enjoy a state of truly limitless, free travel.

What's holding us back?

Sadly, there are two big factors holding us back and keeping us in our comfort zone. 32% of Aussies worry about language barriers and 34% about struggling to find the right accommodation. Examples used include the fear of getting lost or ordering the wrong dish in a local restaurant.

22% would miss the comforts of home and 34% feel anxious about unfamiliar situations when travelling even though over half of travellers surveyed (57%) think the best thing about travel is getting outside their comfort zone.

How can we become limitless travellers?

Looking on the positive side, travellers surveyed were able to identify ways to help overcome our travel trepidations. Factors like booking accommodation highly recommended by other travellers (41%), being able to ask questions in the local language (33%) and knowing how to order their favourite food (23%) were all seen as ways to remove travel barriers and anxieties for future trips.

Over half of travellers also said technology helps them find local insights when abroad (56%) and Aussies, in particular, admitted to using technology frequently while travelling.

Another way to combat the fears of travel and gain local insights is to include some time giving back to the local community by volunteering. While doing something worthwhile on your travels you also get the benefit of getting to know some people on the ground and getting used to the local culture.

Here are some of our favourite volunteer trips in some of the most difficult to visit countries around the world:

  • A 22-day India Volunteer Adventure - Spend some time working with child care projects in Delhi and Palampur with excursions to Taj Mahal and other hotspots around Rajasthan as well as two days trekking in the Himalayas.
  • 14 days on the African island oasis of Zanzibar - Work alongside local residents to build critical infrastructure, provide fundamental English education to community members and help protect this world-renowned wildlife.
  • A massive 42-day adventure through Guatemala and El Salvador - Learn Spanish, volunteer and explore two Central American countries.
  • 14 days exploring both Thailand and Cambodia - Help take care of elephants in a small village, explore Siem Reap and Angkor Wat and then end your trip helping a local Cambodian community on one of its development projects.
  • Work on eco-friendly projects over 14 days in Nicaragua - Make the ocean your classroom and earn your PADI Open Water certification while immersing yourself in the local culture and work with local children to protect their surrounding environment.

To help travellers combat their travel fears and embrace more remote destinations, has collaborated with ili, an offline translator, to help break down language barriers. Check out details on the collaboration and a special promotion code here.

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