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Phrases you need to get by when traveling to foreign countries

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The author at the Batu Caves outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mark Abadi


There are more than 6,000 languages in the world, but the vast majority of people won’t learn more than two or three.

Language barriers can cause frustration and inconvenience if you’re traveling to a country where English isn’t commonly spoken. I experienced the difficulties firsthand throughout my travels, which have taken me to 25 countries across Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Although most of us would love to have fluent conversations in every local language we come across, it simply isn’t a realistic option. Still, I managed to get by in places like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and France by studying up on just a few key phrases in the local languages.

Here are the 11 words and phrases I recommend anyone learns in a new language before they travel to a foreign country.

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