How to Pass Time on a Long Trip

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Sometimes, while travelling for a long time, the hours just seem to drag by. If you get easily bored on a plane, bus or train, why not try some of these tricks to pass the time and arrive fresh and ready to explore? 

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Catch some Zs

Travelling is a great way to get some extra sleep and pass the time. Although it can be a little uncomfortable for the legs, sleeping on a bus or a train accompanied by the rhythms and the sounds of traffic is hands down the best way to sleep. And don’t hesitate to splurge on a sleeping compartment when on the train. There you can stretch your legs and back, close your eyes and just relax as the train lulls you to sleep. If you have some valuables with you, such as a laptop, camera, phone and money, make sure to keep them close to you while sleeping.

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Shoot photos

All professional travellers always carry their camera with them, and so should you. You’ll get to shoot some beautiful nature scenes, cities, villages and people you don’t get to see every day. Your photos are actually one of the most valuable things you can take home from your adventures, and most people cherish them forever. So, have your camera at hand at all times and who knows what kind of masterpiece you’ll create.

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Watch movies

If you happen to fly, most of today’s flights are equipped with an entertainment system, so you can catch up with the movies you’ve missed in the cinema. However, if you’re travelling by bus, you can take your laptop or tablet and fill it with TV shows and movies to pass the time. They are also good airport companions, especially on long layover flights. 

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Make new friends

Travelling alone is perfect for meeting new people and making new friends. Look for other solo travellers who look bored like you, or start a conversation with your seatmate. Who knows, you might meet some extraordinary people, your future BFF or even your soul mate. However, don’t be pushy, as some people just want to enjoy their trip in peace.

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Bring some cards

No matter if you’re travelling with your friends, family or alone, you should always make some extra space for a deck of cards. This way you can play a variety of games with people and even alone. Solitaire, anyone? Cards are also an amazing way to break the ice and start talking to other people. You can also get one of those travel chess boards with magnets and play a game or two.

Enjoy some music

One thing a traveller mustn’t forget to bring is an iPod or an mp3 player. When you’re down and exhausted, music will pick you up and give you the energy to push forward. It will also relax you and fix your mood. Music is also a great way to tune out conversations, crying babies and loud sounds of the plane or train. But if you just can’t ignore the noises in the background, you can get noise-cancelling headphones such as AKG headphones that will completely isolate you from the rest of the world.

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Read a book

Before, it wasn’t so easy to carry two or three books with you at all times, but today, that’s not difficult at all. Even though you might be a fan of the “real deal”, e-books are much more practical for travelling and they can almost fit into your pocket. Any time is good for reading, but if you’re stuck on a plane or a train, it can really save your life. However, it’s not recommended for people who suffer from motion sickness. 

So, remember these, and next time you go on a trip, you won’t be bored or lonely. Bon voyage, traveller!

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How to Learn Language Basics Before Your Holiday

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Ever arrived in a foreign country for work or play, and found that you wished you could have at least introduced yourself in the native tongue? You’re not alone!

Learning a language can be intimidating, but it’s worth it. We aren’t talking fluency, we’re just seeking to make a little effort to chat to locals and add a whole new wonderful dimension to your trip. People tend to be happy to hear someone attempting to speak their language – no matter how many mistakes you make. If you’re trying, then you will be rewarded with cool experiences and conversations. Plus, you’ll be able to ask where the toilet is without having to mime awkwardly. Everyone wins!

1- Set Reasonable Goals

Put down the grammar textbook, because the aim here is to make learning little but often and fun. Whether you have three months or three days until the flight, you can still learn enough if you are consistent. 2 hours a day might sound great, but if it doesn’t fit in your schedule then don’t push it – you’ll feel demotivated a lot faster.

As well as time goals, think about what you would reasonably like to achieve. If you only have a week, then keep it basic. Aspire to introduce yourself, to order food and to buy tickets and transport. If you have a few months, then maybe you could work towards a ten minute conversation in the target language.

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2- Select Relevant Vocab

Phrasebooks are great, but don’t waste time learning things you aren’t going to use. Make your own vocab list based on your interests and needs and learn those words, not necessarily the ones that the phrase book assumes you might need.

Imagine a conversation where you are introducing yourself. Learn the words for your nationality, your travel plans, your interests. If you don’t like a certain food, learn how to say so. If you can talk about your family dog til the cows come home, then you’d better make sure that ‘cute’ and ‘best friend’ are in your vocab list! You get the idea.

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3- Be Practical About What You Need to Learn

If you are looking for a quick fix, then ditch grammar in favour of learning phrases and sentences. Often, sentences like “where is the … “ can be reused with other nouns and will still make sense. If possible, ask someone to check.

If your target language uses a different alphabet, then you may also decide to devote your time to learning to speak rather than read. Most of the tips in this article are more geared towards being able to talk on your holiday, but factor in extra time for alphabet if that’s part of your goals.

4- Make it Fun

As well as using a variety of different resources (see next tip), taking the time to come up with clever ways of learning has been proven to really boost your ability to recall phrases in a foreign language. As a french speaker, I remember learning l’orge (barley) when I worked as a tour guide for a whisky distillery. I would visualize Shrek, the ogre, in a field of barley in order to remember the word as it sounded so different to the English. And it worked! Come up with mnemonics and your learning will stick.

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5- Use Different Resources

Phrasebook: Particularly useful in-country, but try and pick one up before you go as they will often have good suggestions for generic phrases to learn such as directions and ordering food.

Dictionary: Whether you prefer an old school paper dictionary or would rather just download one on your phone, this can be a great way to pick up words. Try setting a reminder once or twice a day to pause what you’re doing and look up the word for whatever you are doing, or for an object in the same room as you.

Flashcards: Once again, this can be paper or digital format. Take public transport to work? Flashcards. Waiting for dinner to cook? Flashcards. About to go to bed? Flashcards. The words will start to stick before you know it.

Radio: Online, you should be able to find radio channels from all over the world. Listening to the radio can be a great way to immerse yourself and get used to the way a language flows. Plus, you can listen pretty much whenever you have internet access. It can be a good way to keep your brain thinking about the target whilst still doing other things.

Youtube: There are lots of great youtubers out there who either film in your target language, or who blog about learning their language. Youtubers are great because they will often also give you cultural tips as well.

Movies: Watch Netflix with subtitles and add a few foreign language movies to your watch-list. You can learn and relax at the same time!

Apps: I’ve used Duolingo and Memrise to great effect, the former to brush up on some German before a trip to Berlin and the latter to tackle the Arabic alphabet to give myself more excuses to visit Morocco.

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6- Talk to Natives before you Go

This may seem impossible depending on where you live and the language you are learning, but it can be surprisingly straightforward to get experience of speaking and it will make a huge difference to your learning.

Have a look online for local language meetups first of all. No luck? Then the internet can help you out again. Sites such as iTalki allow you to connect with hundreds of teachers who have really reasonable prices for a skype lesson, or a language exchange if you can find someone with the complementary languages to your needs.

Now that the practicalities are sorted, you might feel that it’s going to be impossible to talk to somebody for half an hour. Perhaps it is, and that is precisely why it’s so important to get the first chat attempt out the way whilst you have internet access to hand and all of your vocab in front of you! Make good use of this time by noting down the gaps in your vocab as and when they arise, and just one or two short sessions will really boost your confidence ahead of talking the language in person.

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7- Once You Arrive

The most important thing is just to have a great time! Do not be scared in the slightest of making mistakes. It happens to us all and you are highly unlikely to really offend someone as they will know you are trying your best. I once chatted away about how lots of ready meals contained condoms. I was trying to say preservatives (conservateur in French) by saying preservatifs. It means condom in French. I figured out that mistake pretty quickly, and I’m still on good terms with the lovely French friend who corrected me. No harm done.

What do you think of these tips? Will you use any of them to learn some language basics before your next trip? Have you ever used any of them to great success? Let us know in the comments!

 

Bio: Global Language Services (http://www.globallanguageservices.co.uk/) is a Scotland-based translation and interpreting company committed to providing speedy, efficient and accurate service no matter what. Please get in touch or check out our website for more details.

5 More Essential Travel Apps to Make Travel Easier

Travel Apps could definitely be a weekly column so this second article in the series is long overdue, (see my first article from last year- 5 Essential Travel Apps to Make Travel Easier). The plethora of travel apps continues and shows no sign of stopping (nor should it).

Here’s another 5 essential apps to help with some different challenges that comes with travelling:

Protection against theft

Digital security should a concern for everyone (whether travelling overseas or just across town). Prey is a free security system that works with your PC, tablet and mobile phone. Similar to “Find My iPhone”, you can locate your device using GPS but you can also watch what is happening on screen and remotely lock your device to prevent theft of sensitive data. You can even use your device’s camera to snap a photo of the bad guy (and help in device recovery). https://preyproject.com/

Airport security updates

Getting through security in a timely manner can be a problem if you are unsure of the latest federal regulations. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s MY TSA app consolidates all the security details you need to know, along with updates on airport delays. Similarly, the Canadian Government has put out the Travel Smart Mobile Web App, which includes embassy contact info and border wait times.

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/my-tsa-mobile-application

http://travel.gc.ca/mobile

Flight information and more

Passbook is a resident app built into your IPhone and IPad device. The app will bring up-to-date flight information to the main screen of your device automatically once you are checked in. One swipe will recall your boarding pass. Passbook also stores account balances and information for movie tickets, retailers and loyalty cards.

Avoid texting fees

Staying in touch with clients, employees and family when out-of-country can be costly due to high text messaging fees. WhatsApp uses Wi-Fi to allow users to send text messages and group chats so that costly messaging fees don’t apply. The app costs $.99.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/whatsapp-messenger/id310633997?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Overcome Language barriers

It’s so quick and easy to use. Google Translate is available as a straight Google web feature page for quick translation. The App itself is free and features more than 50 languages to choose from. While in destination, you can even speak English into your phone and have it spit out a translation in the local language. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/google-translate/id414706506?mt=8

And the travel app list continues…

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