Say What?

Contrary to popular opinion, the hardest part of travel isn’t navigating the terrain – it’s finding your way with a foreign language. Read on to find out how Tina Richardson, CAA’s Solo Traveller Club Guru, gets accustomed to new places – and words – with ease.

One of the more challenging aspects of travelling solo can be navigating a foreign language.  That’s because it's up to you alone to figure out ways to communicate with locals, to interpret road signs and - most importantly - to order dinner.

A great trick of the trade is to learn a few key phrases before leaving home. That’s right; my journey anywhere always begins before I ever set foot on foreign soil, by spending some quality time immersing myself in the local language of my destination. 

Plan ahead: how would you order a drink, find out where the train station is, or locate the facility for your most primal of needs - the bathroom!  These days, language apps can be easily downloaded to your smartphone or borrowed from your local library. But even with these resources, a little practice beforehand can help you familiarize yourself and get comfortable with a different language. As you begin to develop an ear for it, you’ll also be alleviating travel jitters and giving your brain a good workout. A little bit of elbow grease beforehand definitely pays off.

Travelling with allergies?  I always suggest carrying a notepad with key phrases translated ahead of time. In a pinch, you can always simply hand over the notepad to the server at the restaurant.  No time or resources to complete this task ahead of time? The concierge or front desk staff at your destination will be more than happy to assist. These people love to share their tips, and are appreciative when you are making attempts to learn their local language.

Travelling within Canada?  Like it or not, this still applies. If your travels take you into the province of Quebec, you will immediately take notice of the fact that the road signs are all in French.  Local dialects can be fun too, and you will learn all too quickly as you head into New Brunswick that your high school French teacher did not teach you Acadian French.

A really fun activity to partake in before a trip is to read a novel set in the area that you will be visiting. This is a great trick for gaining a bird’s eye-view of what makes the locals tick. Consider also visiting a local restaurant that features the specialties of the country you will be visiting. If you're saving your money for that big trip and don't want to spend on eating out before you go, snag a few recipes online or borrow a cookbook from your local library to create your very own take on cultural cuisine.

These tips can help you if you plan on joining CAA’s Solo Traveller Club this summer; in celebration of Canada's 150th birthday this year, we’ll be feting the nation on the east coast of Canada. Join the Solo Traveller Club in Newfoundland, home of the famed screech and land of quaint fishing villages as far as the eye can see. This province is perhaps most famous for its unique regional dialect, so here are a few words to help you get started on the road to speaking “Newfinese:”

Buddy:  Can be male, female, dog, cat, neighbour, or shop owner; you get the drift. Buddy is an all-purpose word, feel free to use it when referring to…just about anything!

Right:  Simply means, “I hear you.” You're not necessarily correct.  In fact, you could even be wrong. You may need to turn right.  Most likely not, though.

Luh: “Look!” or “I told you so!”

By’e:  That's you.  It's also the guy beside you, behind you, the lady in front.  Look for more clues. Consider asking Buddy, from above!

Yes by’e, ‘fore long you’ll be a pro!  Travel, as always, teaches us to be more open, more patient and more accepting of others. Wherever your travels take you next, whether it be near or far, focus on being present and enjoying the moment. You won't regret it.

To learn more about CAA's Solo Traveller Club and the Naturally Newfoundland tour, feel free to email or call toll free 1-855-402-4636. Contact me, Tina Richardson, at and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Solo e-newsletter here.