Having to deal with a foreign language is apparently the second-biggest cause of stress among business travellers. So to help you communicate and be better understood, here are 4 ways of breaking down those linguistic borders.

While business travel has many plus points such as discovering new destinations and encountering other cultures, it also throws up its fair share of stressful situations. For instance, a recent study revealed that, of the main stress factors during business travel, the language barrier comes in second (26% of those polled). But there are tips you can apply to help bridge this impasse.

1. Use translation apps

If you don’t have the option of hiring an interpreter, then your smartphone could come to the rescue. While their accuracy won’t be 100% spot-on, automated translation apps (Google Traduction, iTranslate…) are ever more comprehensive and sophisticated and can come in very handy. You just input a word, phrase or expression on your phone via keypad, voice or photo to obtain an instant translation in the language of your choice.

2. Carry a universal communication guide

A picture really can speak a thousand words! There exist very practical small books (Ulysses guide, Point It, Icoon…) containing hundreds of photos and images grouped together by topic. All you have to do is point at an illustration to get your message across to the person you’re talking to. And for connected travellers, there are of course special apps (like SameSame developed along the same lines and which work without any Internet connection.

3. Wear a T-shirt with icons

If you like the sound of that concept but fancy a simplified and more fun version, then you could opt for clothing… that speaks for you! Dreamt up by three Swiss travellers after a trip to Vietnam, the IconSpeak T-shirt is imprinted with 40 icons. This makes it easy to ask for or find toilets, a restaurant, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a petrol station, a doctor, etc.

4. Maintain a friendly face

It’s incredible how just speaking a few words in the local language can work wonders. Even if your accent’s shocking, it’s still worth trying to memorise a few polite phrases. And remember: a friendly and smiling phase will always be the first “key” to communicating, wherever you may find yourself on the planet!