The Travelers Tongue Philosophy

Why Traveler’s Tongue should be your first step to enjoying a foreign language and connecting with the locals. If you wait for language fluency prior to visiting a foreign country, you may never get there! On your first few visits to a non-English speaking country, all you really need is a few basic words and phrases, which can be found on our Traveler’s Tongue card. Use them often and with enthusiasm. These words and phrases, especially the polite essentials, will help make your stay more fun and rewarding. When we travel to a foreign country we are demonstrating an interest in that culture. Our goal should be to experience and enjoy that culture in as many ways as possible: seeing the historical landmarks and natural wonders, relishing the foods & drinks, shopping for unique goods, mingling with the natives, and speaking a little of their language. Ideally, the first few words out of your mouth when addressing a local should be in their language. In nearly every case they will appreciate your efforts and be very helpful, often answering in English. Begin by learning how to say hello, thank you, and please. Additional words and phrases from the Traveler’s Tongue language card will be very useful during your visit. Most of them can be learned on the flight to your destination. Our goal was to make Traveler’s Tongue an interesting and practical First Step to speaking, and enjoying, a new language. Later, depending on your time and motivation to learn more, you can selectively advance through a myriad of word and phrase books, auditory CD’s, computer-based programs, traditional coursework, immersion courses, private tutoring, and living for a period of time in a country where your new language is spoken. International travel can be an enriching experience, and it provides a remarkable opportunity to show that we value other people and cultures. We hope that Traveler’s Tongue is one small aid toward enhancing your travels abroad and promoting understanding between people and nations. Sincerely, Ron Ohlhausen President, RAO...

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How do I know when to travel?

How do I know when to travel?

Determining the best time to visit a specific part of the world can involve numerous factors that interact with each other, most notably what the weather is like and when the high tourist season occurs. If you plan carefully before you buy your plane ticket or start making your plans, you can make certain to get the most out of your vacation.

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Malaysia: A tropical state of mind

Malaysia: A tropical state of mind

Malaysia shares a peninsula with Thailand and part of the island of Borneo with Indonesia and Brunei. In between the large island and the peninsula are numerous islands that are also part of Malaysia and round out this tropical paradise.   Getting in, out, and about   If you’re a traveler with a valid US passport, you can get into Malaysia without the need for a special visa, provided you’re traveling for tourism or business and staying for no more than 90 days. Your passport must remain valid for up to six months beyond your scheduled date of departure.   While you can officially stay for up to 90 days within Malaysia, in practice, your passport will be stamped with an official number of days that you are allowed to stay in the country. This may be for less than the total 90 days allowed. It is possible, however, to extend your visa for up to two additional months.   US travelers with dual citizenship in Israel should use their US passport for entry into Malaysia. In the past, dual citizens presenting an Israeli passport have been denied entry. The presence of Israeli entry or exit stamps on a US passport will most likely not be a reason for Malaysian officials to bar you from the country.   The US Centers for Disease Control recommend travelers be up to date on the common vaccinations when traveling to Malaysia. Additional vaccinations against typhoid and Hepatitis A are also recommended. The tap water in Malaysia is generally not safe to drink. Travelers should drink only from sealed bottled water and avoid using ice cubes made from tap water.   In addition to the recommended vaccines, some travelers may find it advantageous to take additional vaccinations and treatments, although this largely depends on the extent of your vacation plans. Such vaccinations include those against Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies.   There is no risk of yellow fever in Malaysia, but if you are traveling from a country that is a designated yellow fever country, even if you’re only passing through that country’s airport, you should consider getting a yellow fever vaccination. Failure to provide proof of a yellow fever vaccination when arriving from a yellow fever country may keep you barred from entering Malaysia.   While the risk for contracting malaria in peninsular Malaysia is relatively low, if you travel to...

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Iceland: bubbling with brilliance

Iceland: bubbling with brilliance

The old adage I learned in grade school is that Greenland is actually composed of ice, while Iceland is actually green. While this is not completely accurate since there is ice in Iceland, the notion of Iceland being a cold and inhospitable place is equally inaccurate. The warm Atlantic Gulf Stream and countless hot springs and other geothermic activity actually provide Iceland with a much more moderate climate than you would typically find in a country located in the extreme north. During the winter time in the capital of Reykjavik, for instance, while it does get below freezing, it’s typically only a few degrees below, which is not what you’d expect from a country called Iceland.   These are all good reasons why avoiding Iceland would be hasty, but they do not address why Iceland is a great vacation destination in the first place. In short, the countryside is rugged and stunning in its beauty, a giant, rocky and volcanic hot tub that’s like nowhere else. Iceland is world renowned for ice trekking activities, and a host of other adventure activities as well. In short, Iceland has been up and coming on the world’s vacation radar because it offers an array of unique vacation experiences which travelers will find nowhere else.   Getting in, out, and about   Despite its distance from the rest of the European mainland, Iceland is considered a part of Europe, and the country is a member of the Schengen Agreement. For US travelers with a passport that has at least three months remaining validity, this means you can enter Iceland without the need for a special visa if your purpose in traveling is for tourism. Once in the Schengen Area, you can stay for up to 90 days within a 6 month period. Icelandic officials will require you to have a return plane ticket and demonstration that you have enough money to fund your stay while you are there.   Iceland’s health care system is excellent, and the country sees very little in the way of diseases that travelers should prepare for. The US Center for Disease Control recommends that all travelers are at least up to date on common vaccinations, such as those against measles, polio, and small pox. Depending on your vacation plans, you may opt to get additional vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B, and rabies. Before you finalize your travel...

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Romania: the heart of mystery

Romania: the heart of mystery

Created from the merging of the kingdoms of Wallachia, Moldavia, and later Transylvania, Romania has spent much of its life under other civilizations’ control from the Romans to the Ottoman Turks to the Soviet era communists. Its centralized location on the Balkan Peninsula and comprising some of the west coast of the Black Sea has made it a way point for all of Europe. In the past couple of decades the Romanian people have enjoyed independence, and as a fledgling member of the European Union, this country has begun to thrive. This places Romania in a unique point in its history: an inexpensive country with a rich cultural heritage that is just beginning to rebound from centuries of oppression. Whether you hunt for the historical Dracula in the mountainous forests of Transylvania or you look for relaxation on the shores of the Black Sea, a vacation to Romania will have something for everyone.   Getting in, out, and about   Romania is one of the newest parties to the Schengen Agreement. Although the country has not fully implemented the agreement, for the most part US travelers can treat Romania as a Schengen country. You only need a valid US passport to enter Romania, although it must remain valid for at least 90 days beyond your scheduled departure from the Schengen area. You can stay in Romania for up to 90 days within a 6 month period, much as it is with other Schengen countries. Unlike many countries in the Schengen area, however, US travelers can work in Romania during their 90 day stay.   Romania recognizes dual citizenship, so if you are a US citizen originally from Romania, you may be subject to additional Romanian laws and requirements that can make it difficult to leave the country once you have finished your vacation. Before you travel, consult with the nearest Romanian embassy or consulate for more information if this applies to you.   Romania’s health care system is underdeveloped according to US standards. Consequently, travelers should take precautions by not drinking the tap water or using ice cubes made from the tap water. The US Center for Disease Control also recommends that most travelers take a vaccination against Hepatitis A in addition to the common vaccinations, because it can be spread through contaminated food and water. Some travelers may want to consider taking additional vaccinations against Hepatitis B or...

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Denmark: land of Vikings

Denmark: land of Vikings

The Danes have given the world many great gifts. From innovations in physics from the likes of Tycho Brahe and Niels Bohr to the often terrifying but always excellent fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, or the equally terrifying but excellent philosophical musings of Søren Kierkegaard, Denmark has supplied much for which the rest of the world can be grateful. Nor are Denmark’s accomplishments limited solely to the realm of the mind, as the fabulous cheese pastry named after this culture will remind you. The Danes have a masterstroke, too, since they were the ones who invented Legos.   Getting in, out, and about   Denmark is a party to the Schengen Agreement in Europe, which allows for near-borderless travel throughout much of Europe. For US travelers, you do not need to apply for a special visa to enter any one of the Schengen countries, and once in one of them, you can travel to others without needing to get an additional visa. Most Schengen countries will want you to get your passport stamped when you enter, however. Your US passport should have two blank pages and remain valid for up to 90 days beyond your intended departure date from the Schengen area, including Denmark. Once you enter the Schengen area, you can stay for up to 90 days within a six month period. Denmark does require you to report entering or leaving with more than €10,000 in cash, or the equivalent.   Denmark has some of the best health care in the world, and its food and water standards are at the very least the equal of that in the US. You can drink the tap water safely. Nevertheless, the US Center for Disease Control recommends that all travelers should be up to date on the common vaccinations when traveling to another country. In some cases, travelers may want to consider getting additional vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B, and rabies. Whether these are necessary for you depends in large part on what your vacation plans entail. Your best practice is to consult with your local doctor well in advance of your vacation to determine if any additional vaccinations would be appropriate for you.   The landscape in Denmark is relatively flat or rolling, with forests and rivers. Renting a car is one way to get around outside of Danish cities. Keep in mind that gasoline is heavily...

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