Hell hath no fury like a hangry tourist. Not everyone understands the international sign for “I’m fucking hungry,” but what else are you going to do when you find yourself standing on a street corner somewhere in Asia staring up at signs that look close to hieroglyphics? You could Google translate "I'm hungry," but how are you going to say it? At this point you're just hangry.
Language barriers should never be a travel hinderance, and especially not a reason for hanger. And much to no one's surprise, there's an app for that.
Available on iOS and Android, iTranslate lets you talk, read, and write in over 100 languages. Beyond the regular translation options, iTranslate lets you use your phone camera to snap a picture of text – a signpost, store name, or even that menu when you finally find a restaurant – and translates it for you. If you speak into the app using one of the supported languages, it translates it to your language of choice. They've also recently added the option of offline translation so you can dodge those absurd roaming charges.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, you’re familiar with Google; so when Google creates a translation app, you know it's going to be efficient and easy to use. Most of the supported can be translated offline, but you can still download common phrases in case you find yourself lost in a Brazilian rainforest without any internet. It also lets you take pictures of signs for instant translation. To no one's surprise, Google Translated is supported on pretty much every mobile device.
With options like an instant voice translator; a phrasebook that includes formal, casual, and slang options for over 2,000 phrases per language; culture guides for several countries/languages; and the option to make free international call via wifi, TripLingo will do you and your wanderlust massive good in a foreign country. TripLingo is available for iOS and Android.
Ever tried speaking Khaleeji Arabic to an Egyptian? Or Tunisian Arabic to a Jordanian? What's unique about SayHi is that it lets you translate into different dialects for several languages and lets you talk without interruptions – just push a button and start talking; it'll do the translating. It also gives you the option to slow down the speech in case you want to understand and enunciate a certain part. SayHi is available for iOS and Android.
This iPhone app is one of the better ones when it comes to IOS compatibility, despite the fact that it only allows you to translate via written text. With over 50 language options and an easy, intuitive interface, iHandy also comes with the option of accessing your recent translation history so you don't need to retype things. It also comes with access to phrasebook with commonly used expressions in each supported language.
SPEAK & TRANSLATE
Another iOS app, Speak & Translate gives you the option to navigate between over 100 languages for text translation and over 50 for voice translation. This app is also supported by Apple Speech Recognition Technology, which enhances the speed of your translations.
What happens if your wallet gets stolen and you need to quickly file a police report? You wouldn’t want to spend the night in a Guatemalan prison cell because you tried miming your misfortunes to a police officer and accidentally insulted his ancestors. Beyond the usual options, Takeasy lets you talk to a live interpreter – just choose your target and destination languages and the app matches you with your own personal interpreter. Then, make an online call with the interpreter and they'll talk to that prison guard for you. This app compatible with iOS and Android.
REVERSO TRANSLATION DICTIONARY
Technical jargon is super easy to get lost in translation, which would suck should you happen to find yourself on a business trip halfway across the planet and using the wrong meaning of a word. Reverso specializes in collocations and contains a huge database of real-life examples, and a powerful linguistic search engine that lets you look up how words and phrases are used anywhere from movies to press releases. This app is iOS and Android compatible.
FORVO PRONUNCIATION GUIDE
Knowing what to say is important, but knowing is only half the battle – the other half is knowing how to say it so the other person's face doesn't ring up a 404 Error screen. With its huge database of over 3.5 million pronunciations from native speakers of over 340 languages, Forvo will definitely save your ass from a few too many awkward moments while you're traveling. It's available for iOS and Android.
Now that you've got any possible language at the touch of your fingers, where are you off to?
NB: Most of these apps are free but offer in-app purchases/upgrades that significantly enhance the experience.