Author: Amanda DiSilvestro




Tips to Overcoming Language Barriers while Traveling

Posted by on October 17, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

It happens pretty often – people who do not speak foreign languages avoid traveling to non-English speaking countries, or they think the language barriers aren’t worth overcoming for a one or two week vacation. Whatever the reasoning for this trend, the truth is that if you want to immerse yourself in new cultures, nothing should stop you. If you organize your trip in the right way, you will face no difficulties caused by the language barrier.

Let’s consider seven travel tips on how to overcome language barriers and get the most of your trip.

Learn Basic Words and Popular Phrases in Advance

If you have started to plan your trip in advance, that’s great! You still have time to learn some essential words that will help you to overcome the language barrier.

Remember that there is no magic method that can help you to learn a foreign language in a month, so you shouldn’t try to memorize dozens of grammar rules and hundreds of new words in a few weeks. Simply choose 100 the most widely used words and focus on those. Start your language learning journey from memorizing how to say “Hi”, “Thank you”, and “My name is Johan” (you will use these words more often than other words, so make sure that you pronounce them correctly). After that, you should learn a few basic verbs such as eat, drink, buy, want, sleep, go, and nouns such as water, food, price, hotel, hospital.

When traveling with Discover Corps, we provide you with a few basic phrases to get you started in your Pre-Departure Booklet. Above is a sample of how this works.

Use Translation Apps

Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and we can use new technologies to deal with language barriers. Another option is to get prepared for conversations with locals a week before you travel through a translation app. Write down a few of the phrases you think you may need to know, translate them using an app, and have them ready to go on your phone. Short translated notes like this one will save you lots of time and will let you enjoy your trip to the foreign country.

Here is a list of mobile apps that you can use to facilitate communication with locals.

  • Google Translate. This app works online and offline, and it allows translating text from photos. For instance, you can snap a picture of the menu at the restaurant, and the app will translate the text for you.
  • TripLingo. This mobile app allows you to translate your voice instantly, so if you want to sound like a local, don’t hesitate to try this app.
  • The Word Point. If traveling for work and you want to get assistance from professional translators, use this online service.

Below is a screenshot of what Google Translate looks like:

Take a Phrasebook or Pocket Dictionary with You

So let’s face it – when it comes to exotic destinations, you can’t always rely on digital technologies. We know there is no Wi-Fi in Costa Rican rainforests, and there is no electricity in small African villages, so in some cases, your phone and translation apps might be just useless.

For this reason, you should buy a phrasebook or a pocket dictionary and bring it everywhere with you. A tiny book in your backpack will add to your self-confidence and help out in a difficult situation.

Lean on an English-Speaking Guide

On many group trips, including Discover Corps trips, you will have a local guide there to support you who will speak both English and the native language. He/she can help you with translation and teach you a few things along the way if you get really stuck (but use this as your backup whenever possible!).

Our guide Karla has been guiding for 25 years in her native country of Costa Rica. Meet her on the Costa Rica: Wildlife Safari trip.

The Takeaway

Remember that you don’t have to be fluent in foreign languages to travel the world, and in fact locals love to see travelers making an effort to speak their native language – even if you don’t know many phrases! You will be welcomed and usually learn a thing or two along the way to truly enjoy your trips to the fullest.

Erica Sunarjo is a professional writer, translator, and editor with a Master’s degree in Marketing and social media. She writes thought- provoking articles for publications in a variety of media and is an active member of the translator community.




How to Talk to Your Friends About Sustainability (and why it’s so important)

Posted by on July 3, 2019 · Leave a Comment  

There’s no doubt that the environment is changing – CO2 levels are the highest they’ve ever been, massive heat waves (and cold fronts) are popping up all over the world, and the Earth’s heat-repelling ice is melting. It’s becoming more important than ever that every citizen of the Earth make a noticeable effort to reduce their impact on the planet.

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What Does it Mean to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Posted by on September 7, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu and volunteer with Discover Corps here.

Travelers, adventurers, and tourists alike have all heard of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They’re usually considered gorgeous “must-visit” places, especially if you are looking to get to know a different country. But what is a UNESCO world heritage site, really? How do they earn that status, and why should they be protected?

Believe it or not, this idea has not been around for long. Declaring structures and land masses world heritage sites began in 1959 when Egypt requested assistance from The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to protect and rescue endangered monuments and sites. Since then, countries all over the world have added significant sites to the ongoing list of recognized world heritage sites. To date there, are 878 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the world.

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Cuban Visas 101: Support for the Cuban People vs. People to People Travel

Posted by on August 20, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Visiting Cuba is an enchanting experience, and one that US citizens are now legally able to enjoy. Getting a Cuban visa is relatively quick and easy, but with evolving regulations and various ways to visit Cuba, it can be difficult to know which of the approved avenues works best for you. Luckily, we keep a pretty close eye on this; here’s what you need to know about getting a tourist visa for Cuba.

There are 12 categories of travel that are approved for US citizens to travel within. You must have an approved itinerary (such as one from a licensed tour company like Discover Corps), in-hand, that falls into one of these categories:

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Interview from Tanzania: Discover Corps Guide Esther “Mama” Simba

Posted by on July 16, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Esther Simba, or “Mama Simba” as she is called in her village, is someone full of life who you don’t soon forget. With an infectious personality, she has a passion for connecting different cultures as a way of improving our world. On Discover Corps’ Tanzania: Safari & Service trip, you’re welcomed into the Chagga tribe, just outside the town of Moshi, where as Mama Simba says “you’ll find the most kind loving and caring people.”

The friendships that we create, there are people who will never forget their time here because it arises something in ourselves that is different than in other people.” – Esther “Mama” Simba

Discover Corps’ relationship with Esther began over ten years ago when Discover Corps’ Founder Andrew Motiwalla got to know Esther. Although she declined the idea of hosting travelers at first, a chance meeting in Stone Town on Zanzibar Island just a few weeks later was enough to spark a friendship and one of Discover Corps’ longest partnerships abroad to date.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video below and get to know Esther, and write any questions in the comments!

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Ask the Alumni: A South Africa Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler

Posted by on July 12, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

For Cathy, the South Africa: Wildlife Conservation Experience trip offered the educational aspects she was looking for while helping her cross seeing the Big 5 off her bucket list (almost – the leopards remained elusive!) with two of her girlfriends. According to Cathy, while this trip focused on wildlife, meeting with some of the children in the area was also an unexpected highlight.

Read about her experience below to learn what she wished she had known before traveling, her most memorable moments, and other insider tips.

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[PRESS RELEASE] Despite Political Uncertainty, Discover Corps Launches New Cuba Trip for Families

Posted by on June 15, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Contact: Amanda DiSilvestro
(619) 758-3030

For Immediate Release: Despite Political Uncertainty, Discover Corps Launches New Cuba Trip for Families

– Founder cites mission to promote cross cultural understanding amongst all generations as reason for launching new family-friendly tour to Cuba-

– Free roundtrip flights to Havana now offered for a limited time to celebrate the new trip –

San Diego, CA – June 14, 2018. San Diego-based tour company, Discover Corps, launches a new 6-day itinerary to Cuba. Called the Cuba: Family Island Exploration, the trip allows travelers to enter Cuba on a “Support for the Cuban People” visa.

Travel to Cuba experienced a massive surge when President Obama loosened restrictions in 2016. Since then, President Trump has tightened these restrictions and issued a travel warning, creating confusion about Americans’ ability to legally travel to Cuba.

Discover Corps is known for using responsible travel to improve the world. With this in mind, it has created an itinerary to allow families to discover the island in a meaningful way that supports the Cuban people.

“Now more than ever it is imperative for Americans to become unofficial ambassadors of goodwill around the world. We need to show the world – and especially the Cuban people – that the American people care for them and want to build bridges of friendship and understanding. Politics aside, these trips build direct connections between American and Cuban families,” said Andrew Motiwalla, Founder of Discover Corps. “As the father of two young daughters, I designed a trip that is fun for kids but will also shape the next generation of global citizens.”

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Interview from Belize: Discover Corps Guide Reyes

Posted by on May 22, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

According to Reyes, Discover Corp’s guide on the Belize: Wildlife Safari trip, Belize is “Mother Nature’s best kept secret.”

Reyes grew up in Belize in the city of San Ignacio and brings over 10 years experience in guiding travelers across Central America. He thrives on the hands-on interaction that travelers get with wildlife, the locals, and the culture on Discover Corps trips. For him, seeing the smiles on travelers faces as they begin to settle in to the laid-back culture of the country is the best part about being a guide.

On our Belize: Wildlife Safari trip, truly live amongst the nature that Belize is known for (listen to howler monkeys in the distance in the jungle right from your room!). In addition to exploring caves and enjoying the pool, learn about conservation as you visit an iguana sanctuary and butterfly farm, spot manatees and howler monkeys in their natural habitat, and snorkel the world’s largest barrier reef as you search for sea turtles, colorful fish, stingrays, and even nurse sharks in Abergris Caye.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video below and get to know Reyes, and write any questions in the comments!

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Ask An Alumni: A Cuba Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler

Posted by on May 16, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

We were placed in a casa and they were having a birthday party for a family member and invited us to attend. A tour guide and a journalist who had lived in Miami previously were also attending and translated all the Spanish for us, from Castro jokes to a very funny story about a gallbladder operation (you had to be there). They broke out the good stuff—tres leches cake and Johnny Walker Black—and shared generously.” – Lia S.

For Lia, the Cuba: Preserving Nature’s Wonders trip allowed her to see more of a country that is so famous for its capital city, Havana. While Havana brought a new set of experiences on its own, it was the valleys and mountains that were most exciting. Read about her experience below to learn what she wished she had known before traveling, her most memorable moments, and other insider tips.

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