You are in a foreign country. You do not speak the native language. The confused look on your face and large backpack immediately announce to everyone nearby that you are a tourist. To top it off, you have no idea to get from where you are to where you desire to go.
This scenario is a common travel experience. What is the best way to ask for directions? How can you be sure you are given accurate information?
1. Do your best to locate someone who speaks English.
2. Once you have found this person, ask them for directions. Ask questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer, such as “Do I turn left or right?” This line of questioning allows you to test whether the person you are speaking to understands what you are asking.
3. Ask the person how long it should take for you to arrive to your destination. Remember that 15 minutes has different meaning in different countries. For example, 15 minutes in Switzerland is exactly 15 minutes while 15 minutes in Argentina could mean 30 minutes to an hour.
4. If you are taking public transportation to get there, ask this person how much he or she thinks transportation should cost.
5. If possible, have the person write down any pertinent information, such as street names, as it will appear to you on your commute.
6. Repeat this process until you have spoken with at least two people who have given the same directions and transportation cost.
Photo by kudumomo