When travelling, taking a guided tour, eating food in local restaurants, bartering in bustling markets and braving local transport is all part of exploring new cultures. While it’s important to support local economies, we’ve all been duped by a tourist trap in one or more of these situations. However, knowing the local lingo may allow you to beat the system. I spoke to the language experts at Babbel and they shared 6 reasons why knowing the local language helps you to save money abroad.
Save on local transportation
Booking tickets through local provider sites can lead to serious savings. Local companies that provide English translated versions of their webpage usually up their prices on these translated sites regardless of it being the same goods and services offered. Moreover, certain websites aren’t even accessible in English at all. These companies are typically tailoring their services for the local community only, and as such, the prices are usually significantly cheaper.
Boost Your Bargaining Power
Whether getting lost in the souks of Marrakech or wandering the night markets in China, haggling at local markets is all part of the travelling experience. Knowing the language of the vendor you’re bargaining with can often lead to the best deal. Why? For the obvious reason of being able to communicate effectively, of course. With this, you can also ask where else to look–a tactic that may have sellers dropping their prices all of a sudden.
Although I didn’t speak the language when I was in Thailand, bargaining was expected everywhere. I would see what other people were paying and then I managed to get a price lower than them. When I got back to my hotel, the local staff told me that I probably could have saved 25-50% if I spoke Thai.
Eat Like A Local
Food can cost a pretty penny abroad, especially when you’re eating out regularly and in places near popular attractions. You’ll see it in Toronto, you’ll see it in New York, and you’ll see it nearly everywhere else you go. By speaking the language however, you can turn to the locals, ask for their recommendations, and get off the beaten track. It’s often here that you’ll find the cheapest, tastiest places to dine.
If you read any guidebook, this is apparent as they suggest that many places in popular areas with an English menu will charge you a premium. You’re better off looking for a restaurant that caters to locals where the prices are typically lower. So how do you order if you can’t read the menu? Pointing at what others are eating has worked for me in the past.
Tipping culture changes from country to country and city to city. Look up the status quo before you go because in Canada, we’re accustomed to over tipping. In fact, in most of North America, a reasonable tip is considered anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the bill, which compared to the rest of the world, is quite high. In Europe, 10 percent is considered more than enough, while in some countries, like Japan, it’s actually seen as disrespectful to tip.
It comes as no surprise that local vendors and taxi drivers charge a premium to tourists. Some however, genuinely appreciate when tourists attempt to communicate with them in their native tongue, making them more partial to giving discounts to show their appreciation. This doesn’t happen all the time, but if you can strike a conversation with locals in their own language, they may feel like you’ve earned a discount.