How to Communicate Around the Globe Without Words

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words

Last week, we spoke about the top languages to help you travel the world. As helpful as these languages are, they will only help to facilitate communication with around 60% of people on Earth. When you are travelling through several countries that have different languages, it becomes almost impossible to learn phrases from every language. So what do you do when you hit an area where you can’t speak the language? You can do your best mime impression, or you can use symbols to communicate around the globe without words.

Universally Recognisable

Many symbols are universally recognised around the world. If you’ve been to Europe or Australia, you’ve probably seen Brown Tourist Signs somewhere. They are a set of over 90 uniform symbols to help tourists find places of interest. You’ve also probably seen a ‘No Smoking’ sign. Anyone, no matter what language they speak, knows what that one means. Whether they take note of it is another matter. It’s infuriating how many times I’ve seen people smoking right under/near no smoking signs in countries all around the world. Smoking is bad, mmmkay!

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Transport

Unless you plan on walking everywhere in a new country, you’re going to need to take transport at some point. But how can you find the train if you don’t know how to say train? Transport options can be very regionally specific. For example, places with islands are likely to have ferry services. Many regions do not have train services. Other regions have tourist transport options like cable cars, monorails and funiculars. Here we’ve included signs for the main types of transport you would encounter in most places.

Primary Transport

The most common forms of primary transport are planes, buses, trains and taxis. In many regions, notably Latin America and Africa, minivans and shared taxis/collectivos replace bus services. Some cities also have tram services and ferry services. Here we’ve provided symbols for all of these. If you want your own copy of these, you can click on the picture to download your own PDF and keep it on your phone to show people when you’re in a new place.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Primary Transport
Primary Transport Symbols

Alternative transport options involve some regional or touristy forms of transport. For instance, monorails, which are generally more of a gimmick than useful city transport. In many countries throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa, you can find Tuk Tuks, also known as Autos, Rickshaws and Kekehs depending on the region you’re in. Funiculars and Cable cars are more often than not found at touristy places. Especially when there are hills involved.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Alternative Transport
Alternative Transport Symbols

In some areas you can find water taxis in the form of Sampans, Gondolas and speedboats, among others. Sometimes, you just need to grab a bike and make your own way there.

Services

After you’ve sorted your transport, you might need to find out where certain services are. I guess the most important things that people look for when they first get to a new place are WiFi and ATMs. To be honest, if you just say the words ‘WiFi’ or ‘ATM’, people will know what you mean in most places. If they don’t, they’ll definitely know what these signs mean!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Services
Service Symbols

These symbols can also help you if you’re looking for a shopping centre, a library, toilets, a museum or a stadium/Sport Centre.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Where are the Tourist Sites?

When you land in a new city, you’ll no doubt want to find out where the good tourist sites are. Or you might get lost on your way to the site and need to ask a local for directions. Of course, the best place to get information is a place where the staff are likely to speak English. This would be the nearest Tourist Information Centre. If that’s nowhere near, then give these symbols a go!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Sites
Site Symbols

We’ve covered the most visited tourist sites, including viewpoints/lookouts, churches, mosques, castles, city centres, UNESCO sites and information centres.

Accommodation

From experience, it can often be difficult to find your accommodation in a new place. Whether you’re trying to find some accommodations for the night, or you’ve already booked a hotel, motel, airbnb, hostel, homestead, yurt/ger or a tent, these symbols should help you get there.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Accommodation
Accommodation Symbols

If you’re lucky, someone at your accommodation might be able to speak English. More often than not in off-the-radar countries you can’t rely on that to be true.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words – Entertainment Facilities

So you’ve got yourself settled in and you want to check out what’s happening in town. Where can you find yourself a meal or a good cup of tea or coffee? Or maybe you want something stronger, like a beer? We’ve got some symbols for that.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Entertainment
Entertainment Symbols

We’ve also got pictures for plays, movies, concerts and karaoke because that always seems like a good idea after a beer.

Communicate Around the Globe Without Words When Dining

Dining in foreign countries can be rather difficult if you have special dietary needs and cannot communicate them effectively. In fact, some would say it’s a nightmare. Especially if you have allergies. It’s no fun to carefully pick at your food, or just leave it uneaten because you’re scared of what could be in it.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Dining
Dining Symbols

That’s where these symbols come in. They should all be easily decipherable for anyone. We’ve covered common allergies like nuts, pepper and dairy. There’s even one for the vegetarians that can be used in conjuction with others for vegans, as well as a no sugar one for people on Keto. If you’re a Keto Vegan with nut and pepper allergies, just go ahead and use all of them!

Natural Sites

The best part of any trip is finding the natural gems in your destination, right? Whether it be waterfalls, desert canyons, tranquil lakes, snow-tipped mountains, meandering rivers, the beach or national parks, who doesn’t want to see it all?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Nature
Nature Symbols

Once you make it to your natural paradise, What will you do? You can use our next set of symbols to find out what activities are available there!

Activities

If you’re someone who loves a bit of physical activity, you’re almost certainly always looking for your next thrill. You’ll love these symbols then. We’ve got you covered if you want to go hiking, ziplining and hang gliding. There are also some snow sports in there, or kayaking and swimming if you prefer being on or in the water.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Communicate Around the World Without Words. Activities
Activity Symbols

Now, the last activity here is probably not for everyone, but at least with this symbol you won’t have to try to work out how to mime bungy jump without injuring yourself!!

Take the ‘Communicate Around the World Without Words’ Mini e-book With You!

Do you want your very own e-book to keep handy for use when you really need it in foreign lands? Then feel free to download our mini e-book, Communicate Around the World Without Words for all the symbols above in one place. We compiled it specifically to help you on your journey, so please, enjoy! :o)

Do you only want one of the above pages? No problem. Click on any of the pictures above to download the corresponding PDF. Let me know if you find it helpful! :o)

If you want to be inspired by some things that you can do and see around the world, check out the following posts

Amazingly Unique Adventures Around The World
Sunsets Around the World
Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World
Mesmerising Lakes Around the World

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Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World

The world is an amazing collection of places just waiting to be explored. Last week’s tour of Sunsets Around the World was so popular that we’ve decided to bring you another tour this week. This time we’ll take a look at amusingly funny signs around the world!

We’ll cover a whole range of signs from street signs and shop signs, to informational signs and handwritten or painted signs. Basically anything made with the purpose of showing you something. The word ‘funny’ is a funny word that can be a bit ambiguous, right? In this case, we will cover several meanings of the word, from laugh-out-loud funny to weird funny and wtf funny. We really just want to make you smile. Let’s get into it with one of the most beautiful regions on Earth. Oceania!

Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World – Oceania

There must be something in the miles upon miles of crystal blue waters in Oceania. Something that gives it’s inhabitants an awesome sense of humour. Take Australians, for instance. They love a bit of a lark and witty one-liners like these:
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Oceania. Australian Sign 2 K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Oceania. Australian Sign 1

Australians also like to ‘yank your chain’ or trick you into thinking something that’s not entirely true. Like putting a higher price on a reduction sticker.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Expensive Hair Dye

The cheeky sense of humour continues over in the Polynesian island chain of the Cook Islands. Where the only stop sign on the whole chain is a ‘shop’ sign. And they caution you about ‘busy roads’ that are lucky to see 2 cars an hour.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Shop sign on the Cook Islands K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Oceania. Cook Islands Sign 1

Still in Polynesia, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Tonga aren’t shy about anything.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly funny Signs Around the World. Tonga Sign

We’ll head to Melanesia now. On the island chain of Fiji, they like to play on words. Whereas on the Vanuatu islands, they just like to show you want they’ve got to offer.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Beachcomber Fiji Hostel Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Vanuatu Coffee Sign

Finally, we bring you the last sign for Oceania. This sign on the Micronesian island chain of Palau is probably the best summary of the island ethos ever.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Palau Nap Sign

Asia – The Region of Accidental Humour

Since English has become the world’s language, most countries use it on informational signs. Some might not get it quite right. Like China, for instance. I could honestly write a couple of posts on funny signs I’ve seen in China. But for now, you just get two!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Lost in Translation in China 2 K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Lost in Translation in China 1

They almost got it right over in Kazakhstan while also getting it so wrong.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Lost in Translation in Kazakhstan

You may have seen those ‘I Love …’ signs in various cities. They love them in Central Asia, but some cities in Uzbekistan had a different take on them. Awwwww!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Termiz Loves You Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Tashkent Loves You Sign

And someone gave a Star Wars fan a bit too much coffee in Tashkent.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Coffee Wars in Tashkent Uzbekistan

Remember the ‘take a nap’ sign found in Palau? You’ll never guess where I found the exact same sign. In Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Signs in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World – Western Asia

Moving on to Western Asia, where the writing’s on the wall in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Baku Azerbaijan K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Dubai

As you would expect, most signs in Palestine are overtly political and pertaining to the occupation.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Palestine.

Then in Israel, well, I just don’t know what’s going on there. Firstly, people deface the walls of historical buildings right under the sign telling them not to. Then there’s an ant dancing on a hump in a top hat? Or a dog with a crown of thorns flying over a hump? All I’m really sure about is the hump.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Israel Writing on the Wall K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Israel Ant on a Hump Sign

South Asia

On to the beautiful island country of Sri Lanka in South Asia now. I guess some times, if you don’t receive the funding that you need, you have to improvise a sign showing visitors where the view point is.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sri Lanka View Point Sign

Other times, you just need to be reminded of what is important.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sri Lanka Maskeliya Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sri Lanka Toliet Sign

Perhaps you’d like to stay at the end of the Universe in Nepal? Or maybe you’d just like to feast your eyes on some signs while waiting for your meal in Kathmandu?
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Hotel at the End of the Universe in Nepal K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Cafe Signs in Kathmandu

Then in Dhaka, Bangladesh, they want you to reflect on what you’ve done.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Save Water Sign Dhaka

Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World – South East Asia

The laid back way of life in South East Asia often shines through in the humour of the region. Take this ‘Genuine Fake’ sign in Bali, Indonesia.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Genuine Fake Sign Bali

They also seem to be mindful of diet. For themsleves and, well, other things.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Eat Cake Sign Bali K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Toilet Diet Jakarta

Welcome to Vang Vieng in Laos where they’ll look after your stuff. To a point.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Tourist Sign in Vang Vieng Laos

Lastly, back to East Asia. In Hong Kong there are signs to encourage you and signs to place you deep in thought.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Run Sign on Lamma Island Hong Kong K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sign on Lantau Island Hong Kong

Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World – Africa

Our first sign in Africa probably wouldn’t be that cool if it weren’t for it’s positioning, as if it was trying to give you a demonstration of its sentiment.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Never Give Up Sign in Cote d'Ivoire

Next we go to Ghana where they are very environmentally conscious.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ghana Sign 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ghana Sign 2

These next two African signs land themselves firmly in the wtf category. Why are a woman and a boy on this sign under some stairs in Benin? Are they arguing? Are they shopping? Meanwhile, this sign at the Liberian border started off as a friendly warning, then things escalated very quickly!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Benin Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Liberia Border Sign

Over in Sierra Leone, they’re not afraid to use signs to motivate.

And in Egypt the building have floors, but some of them have alternative names.

Our last stop in Africa, Kenya is known for its animals. It makes sense then that the Nairobi National Park would want you to give way to warthogs. Especially ones named Pumbaa.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Warthog Sign Nairobi National Park

Europe

Let’s head north a bit to a European city in a mostly Asian country; Instanbul. First we have a play on words in the old town of Galata, then a sign rarely seen elsewhere, on the island of Buyukada.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Signs in Galata, Turkey K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sign in Buyukada, Turkey

Over to another European island, Cyprus. If you don’t know, Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus and have occupied it ever since. This means there are essentially two countries in one. The locals clearly want it united as one country and tend to put signs indicating such on historical statues, among other things.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sign on Monument in Cyprus

We’ll continue heading north to Austria where they have some weird town names and women’s parking. I don’t know why.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Strange Town Names in Austria K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Women's Parking

And Poland where the aliens are here to help!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Helpful Aliens in Poland 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Helpful Aliens in Poland 2

I wonder if those aliens had anything to do with this ominous sign in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius?
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ominous Message in Vilnius

And let’s just say that they’ve got their own thing going on over in Tallinn, Estonia.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Be a Riot Sign in Tallinn, Estonia K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. No Wifi in Tallinn, Estonia

On to Finland where their metaphors reach for the sky.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Idiot Airport Sign Helsinki

And Sweden where they like to shock.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Orebro Sign Sweden

You may be wondering, why do they have a sign to Hell in Norway? Because Hell is in Norway! Sometimes it even freezes over!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Sign to Hell, Norway

Finally, let’s hop over the pond to the UK. First up, Ireland where they’re always nice, even when they’re insulting you.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Beep for Lesley Sign Belfast Ireland K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Kiss My Ass Sign Ireland

Then London, where they inexplicably hate traffic controls.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. No Traffic Light Sign London K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Altered Street Sign London

Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World – North America

Over to North America now, where we’ll start off in the awesome Latin American country of Nicaragua. It seems they know they can do better. But the hilarious story on the right indicates they’re doing pretty well in the ‘make you laugh’ game.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Nicaragua Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Hold Your Tit Story Sign

This bizzare sign was found in San Jose in Costa Rica.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Hotel Rules San Jose Costa Rica

Then in the USA they want you to practice safe lunch.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny signs Around the World. Practice Safe Lunch Sign Chicago, USA
I’m just going to come right out and say that Canada has the monopoly on humourous signs in North America. First of all, they’re not afraid to poke fun at perceived stereotypes of themselves. But they don’t let the fact that their ‘national dish’ is unhealthy get in the way of their diet.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Canadians do Two Things Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Canadian Diet Sign

When people pay to memorialise their loved ones on a chair in a park, they do it in the most hilarious way.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Park Bench in Vancouver

Then there’s this gem.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Pub Sign Canada
Oh Canada! Keep doing what you’re doing!

South America

We’re going to end the tour in one of my favourite regions on Earth, South America. If you haven’t already fallen in love with Latin America’s amazing landscapes, then these signs will surely make you fall in love with the people.

I’m not sure if this sign in Colombia qualifies as humourous but it definitely gives you all the feels!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Colombia

Now we’ll move to Ecuador where they seem to have all kinds of funny signs, from humourous and strange to wtf! I’ll let you decide which ones fit in which category though.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ecuador Political Sign K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ecuador 'Eye Cares' Sign

These ones do make some valid points though..
K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ecuador Hostel Sign 1K in Motion Travel Blog. Amusingly Funny Signs Around the World. Ecuador Hostel Sign 2

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