Have you ever sat down to enjoy a nice dinner on vacation, only to find you couldn’t read the menu? While restaurants in tourist hotspots might have an English menu if you are lucky, don’t count on it. And while you could chance it, what if you get something you don’t want? You’ll end up spending money on something you don’t even like, which is not how you should spend your vacation. Luckily, a very easy and simple travel hack will allow you to read any menu. Travelers have been using this trick for years, but many are still unaware of its existence.
Take, for instance, a young woman who took a vacation to Turkey. During her visit, she went to a restaurant with no English menu, and the staff didn’t speak much English either. This prompted her to download Google Translate to communicate with the staff. Translate has been used by travelers for many years and is an extremely helpful tool to have in a foreign country. However, there is a specific feature that often goes unnoticed. When opening the app, there is a ‘camera’ button that you can press.
After pressing the camera button, travelers can point their phone toward a menu or anything else with text in a foreign language, like street signs, notices, or even nutritional labels at the grocery store.
Within a few seconds, Google Translate will overlay the foreign text with English (or the user’s language of choice). The feature is extremely useful when visiting a foreign country and often goes unnoticed.
One thing travelers often run into while in a foreign country is a lack of cell phone data or Wi-Fi. While many tourist areas have free Wi-Fi available in various shops and restaurants, you can’t always count on it. Luckily, Google Translate allows users to download languages to their devices so that they don’t need an internet connection for the translations to work. Downloading a language doesn’t use much space, so feel free to download as many as you think you’ll need. For example, downloading French for offline use only uses 74MB of storage space.
After downloading for offline use, Translate’s functionality is more limited. However, users can still use their camera to translate text in real-time, and they will still be able to type in their native language to translate into another. When offline, Google Translate cannot convert speech, and conversation mode is unavailable.
Conversation Mode: This feature is convenient when trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. However, one of its main drawbacks is that the feature will not work without an internet connection. Travelers who are not connected to Wi-Fi or do not have an international data plan will not be able to take advantage of Conversation Mode. For those lucky enough to have a connection while they travel, this feature allows for a near-seamless conversation between two people who do not speak each other’s language.
Once users have selected the languages they want to translate between; they just need to hit the Conversation button and then the Auto button. After this, both people can speak their native language. Google Translate will automatically detect each language before translating it into the other selected language. The app will listen to both languages the whole time and translate immediately after detection.
Travel Prepared: Google Translate is an invaluable tool for traveling to a country that doesn’t speak your native language. Downloading languages before heading off is a great way to ensure you aren’t caught unprepared when trying to communicate or read a menu. Along with Google Translate, many other apps will ensure your travel goes smoothly, including Google Maps, TripIt, and more.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
Surviving air travel in 2022
Traveling sick and being prepared.
No one wants to get sick while on vacation, but it does happen. Going prepared for that chance is a good idea. On our last trip abroad three of the four of us caught bad head colds. I had taken some medications along, but not quite enough. These are our must haves; yours may be different:
Decongestant: If you are flying with a stuffed-up head your journey may be painful and even dangerous. A decongestant will keep your sinuses and ears clear which will help with ear pressure pain upon landing. Without a clear head you could get an ear infection. I brought one box of medicine with us which disappeared quickly with three of us sick. It is so much better to take too much than to spend time in a pharmacy looking for medication when you can’t even read the labels!
Antihistamine: We bring Benadryl to help dry up that runny nose and to help us sleep off the jetlag.
Nasal strips: We had a hard time finding Breathe Right strips abroad. When you are stuffed up and can’t sleep these are a Godsend!
Cough medicine: If you have a favorite that works for you, bring some along. Pharmacies abroad don’t always stock the same types you will be used to. Taking the pill form is helpful so you don’t have to lug the liquid kind around.
Pain and fever medications: We found Ibuprofen in the UK, but again who wants to spend their vacation in the pharmacy?
Diarrhea medication: You never know when the food or water might wreak havoc with your digestive system. Having this could really save your trip.
An app like World Lens or any type of translation app is very helpful for translating text from another language into English. We found it invaluable on labels in foreign stores.
Also remember to drink plenty of water while you travel. I got really dehydrated and paid the cost for it. Take an empty water bottle with you and fill it at the airport, or purchase one or two before you board. The air on planes is incredibly dry, and you will need more than you think; the free ginger ale is never quite enough!
It sounds like a lot of effort to take all of these things with you, but when you are sick and away from home, the medicines you are used to can help you feel better and continue with your plans.
There are many reasons to travel:
1. It's good for you. Many studies show that workers are more productive in their jobs if they regularly use their vacation days. You come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next big task. Many thousands of vacation days go unused by Americans each year. Try to use yours this year and come back refreshed too.
2. It's good for your kids. A recent study by the Student and Youth Travel Association has shown that kids do better in school if they travel often. It resets their brains, just like ours, and opens their minds to other people and cultures, not to mention all the cool things they can see and experience while traveling.
3. There are so many unique and rare things that are disappearing or we are losing. The Maldives are sinking, the Easter Island statues are eroding away and even age old landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral can be lost in an instant. Travel and see these things that are priceless and special. Some day they might not, or will not be here.
4. Travel is a memory maker. Even when things go wrong on a trip-- cancelled flights, sickness or mishaps of other kinds- they build memories to look back on and share. The hard times and the fun times can be things that we laugh about later on and are things that only the people on the trip share. Like a good inside joke.
So travel together, make memories, come back refreshed. It is time well spent!
Picking a great cruise stateroom
Several things I always remember when I book a stateroom on a cruise ship for a customer:
What is important to you in stateroom size and window options. Interior cabins are usually smaller in size but have no window. If you like to sleep in it is a great option. Oceanview cabins have a large window so you can see the waves from your window. Balcony cabins have an outdoor space that you can enjoy if you love a brisk sea breeze. Interior cabins are the cheapest and balconies are more expensive.
Make sure you look at the deck plans of the ship. When you find a stateroom you think you want look at the decks above and below you to make sure you aren't over the night club which would make for late night noise that could keep you awake.
If you are prone to motion sickness, pick a cabin that is low in the ship and towards the middle. These staterooms tend to feel the pitching of the ship less than cabins at the front and back and top of the ship.
A Panama Adventure
My husband and I took a cruise this January to celebrate an upcoming wedding anniversary. He had been itching to see the Panama Canal after reading the book "Pathway to the Seas" by David McCollough.
We decided on Holland America for our cruise line and set off on our adventure.
We visited several ports of call before Panama and enjoyed them all. The day of the canal was so exciting for both of us, but especially my hubby. We crossed through the three locks on the Atlantic side and then anchored in Gatun Lake. Here we tendered off the ship and started a shore excursion which took us by train-- the Panama Canal Railroad-- the full length of the canal to the Pacific side. Here we visited the Miraflores locks and the Panama Canal Museum. It was full of exhibits and artifacts that told us about the building of the canal. It was very interesting and enlightening. We then took our tour bus back to the Atlantic side to meet up with our ship again.
We had a wonderful time on our trip. We were pampered by the ship's crew, fed wonderful food and visited destinations we had never thought of visiting before.
I highly recommend this cruise for a winter get-away and especially if you are a canal fan!