Wednesday, 23 January 2013

It’s Groundhog Day for Brits on holiday – and the language barrier might be to blame…

Recent news from an online flight company has found that after polling 1,000 British holidaymakers a high proportion (40%), admitted they go back to the same holiday resort or hotel every year rather than attempting to explore somewhere new.  It’s actually quite extraordinary that so many of us would prefer to play it safe when going abroad even though there is a big wide world out there full of wonder and new adventures.

The main reasons for this were cited as the ‘price’ and ‘good weather’; but interestingly, ‘ease of travel’ and ‘peace of mind’ were also a close second.  To add to this, the most popular destinations aside from the UK seemed to be USA and Spain – now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together here.  Taking these factors into account it wouldn’t be at all flippant to assume that a fear of the ‘language barrier’ or the issues associated with communicating in an unfamiliar country are part and parcel of this attempt to achieve ‘travel self-preservation’ for want of a better phrase.

Spain is typically a popular destination for those wanting a good beach, some sunshine but a slice of British life on the side.  With many Spanish locals having a decent understanding of the English language, no shortage of British-style pubs and cuisine, the Mediterranean coastline is an obvious choice for many.  Similarly with the USA, you know what you’re getting – the type of food, the location and also there’s only a slight change in accent to deal with rather than a whole new language. But sadly, this leaves much of the rest of the world untouched (or inexperienced) by many UK travellers.

It begs the question, regardless of the destination if it were possible to put the power of multiple languages into the hands’ of UK travellers would it be a different story?  If we could comfortably travel to any destination in the world and know that help is at our fingertips should we stumble into the language barrier, would it make a difference?  Food for thought indeed.  Certainly having access to a live interpreter ‘in your pocket’ at the very moment you need it, might change your opinion of travelling further afield – and it may even open up new opportunities of adventure and exploration for many of us that we otherwise wouldn’t have had the courage to embark upon.

Perhaps it’s time to re-set your alarm clock and hopefully you won’t hear that familiar tune ringing out the next time you book your holiday…”Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb…” too true.

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