Many people aren’t traveling right now for obvious reasons (Hello Covid-19!). However, the pull of the unknown is inherent to human nature – and what better way to satiate that curiosity than through travel? Fortunately, we live in times (when Covid finally goes away) when travel is widely accessible, and it’s become a favorite activity for people of various generations and backgrounds.
But traveling is even more fun if you learn at least some bits of the language(s) spoken at destinations you’re planning to visit. In an ideal scenario, one language would cover several countries so you can talk to the locals and make your stay more interesting. That’s why we’ve grouped several sets of countries where the same language is spoken.
The Indochinese Peninsula
South Asia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The resorts in Vietnam, Thailand, and recently, Cambodia equally attract solo travelers and families.
The food is exotic but affordable, and the natural beauty of this region is amazing. From sandy beaches and the azure waters of Thailand to classy resorts of Vietnam and the modern Malaysian cities, this region can satisfy different tastes.
As for languages, several Austro-Asiatic languages are spoken in Vietnam and Cambodia, while Thai is predominantly spoken in Thailand and some parts of Malaysia. People here mostly understand English, but even speaking a little Thai is helpful in communicating with service workers and locals. They’ll definitely appreciate the effort and admire you for it.
Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are neighboring countries in Central Europe. So, if you’re planning to visit Europe, these three countries would be a great choice. They’re perfectly connected via trains, buses, and planes. Also, the Alps mountain range sprawls across these three countries, offering exciting opportunities for mountaineering or trekking trips.
But the picturesque Alps and fast trains aren’t the only things that connect these three countries – there’s also the German language. Spoken by more than 90 million people as their mother tongue, German is the only official language in Austria and Germany. In Switzerland, about 60% of people speak German as their native language.
If you’d like to learn some German before you go to these countries, you’ll find plenty of options, as this is a very popular language in Europe. You can even do it on the Learn German section of the Deutsche Welle website.
The West Balkans
If you want to visit an area where people in several countries understand one another, the Balkans are the place for you.
People living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro speak different dialects of the same language. In former Yugoslavia, it used to be called the Serbo-Croatian language. Today, each of these countries has a special name for their variant of this language. Still, what’s important is that people in this area share the same lexical heritage. So, learning the language spoken in one of these countries would enable you to communicate smoothly with people from the other three.
The area has a lot to offer – the Adriatic Coast in Croatia and Montenegro, the beautiful mountains of Bosnia, Serbian spas and the capital city of Belgrade, just to name a few. All in all, you might want to start learning the basics of the Serbo-Croatian language to prepare for this potential trip.
Argentina and Uruguay
Except for Brazil, Guyana, and French Guiana, Spanish is the official language in all other South American countries. Still, South America is a large continent, and it’s impossible to visit all of it during an average two-week vacation.
But visiting Argentina and Uruguay, or at least some of their parts, during a single vacation is both feasible and practical, budget-wise. People in these two countries speak a similar Spanish dialect and lead a similar lifestyle. Your itinerary should include Montevideo and its surroundings, together with the Argentine area of Pampas.
As for Spanish lessons before the trip, Duolingo is a good option for people who want to get the gist of it. Since it’s a melodic language, watching Argentinian movies and TV-shows will help you learn more of Argentinian/Uruguayan Spanish, as well.
Learning languages while traveling is a fantastic combo of enjoyment and education. When tourists can order a domestic meal in the local language, locals appreciate this effort. The energy and ideas you exchange with the people you meet during your travels are invaluable. That’s why knowing at least bits of the official language or local dialect is practical.
We hope that our recommendations for countries and languages will be useful for future travelers. Of course, you can always spin the globe, choose a random place, and start learning a new language before you set off on your next trip.