How to use your camera to find a bathroom in a foreign country

Updated Jul 20 2017
Guest post by Alissa
Bathroom sign by RusticChicksBoutique

When in a country where you can't speak the language, take pictures of signs for an easy-find reference!

For example, I took a shot of the restroom sign ("Snyrtingar") in the Reykjavik airport. So as I was wandering around town and needed to pee, I could pull it up on the camera, show a local, and hopefully be pointed in the right direction.

26 July, 2012 - Reykjavik

Any other nifty travel tips for finding what you need on the fly?

  1. This is GREAT!

    I used to send film crews to all corners of the earth and i would always send them with a sheet that had phrases / words in English and then whatever the local language was (especially great when we filmed in China!) So they could point at the appropriate one and hope the person could help.

    i always included the name of their hotels with addresses, washrooms, "is there a bank nearby?", "where can I get a taxi?", etc.

    but, taking pics and putting it on your phone means one less thing to carry around and possibly lose!

    Oh, another handy thing to take a picture of is your luggage, just before you check it, all together. If it gets lost, you can then describe it perfectly and show them EXACTLY what they are looking for!

  2. As a back-up plan, put your Pictionary skills to use — if you have Pictionary skills. 🙂

    Another suggestion, take pictures of maps! When hiking I always take a picture of the map at the trailhead so I can look back on it later if I'm wondering how far I've gone, if the random lake I'm passing has a name, wait– was I even supposed to pass a lake or am I on the wrong trail, etc. Which is why my Flickr-stream has a blurry picture of the Prague tram map

  3. If I'm parking in a huge car park I take photos of the parking space number/level so I can find where I left the car.
    When we hired a car on vacation in Hawaii I also took a photo of the car license plate because apparently all hire cars are silver jeeps there!

  4. Similar idea and not battery reliant is a little book called Point It. It has photos of all sorts of things you can point to when you don't know the word for it, such as; food items, clothing items, toiletries (including photos of tampons, pads and condoms), different types of transport, different types of hotel room from high end luxury to hostel, various small electrical items and different sorts of batteries for them, cutaway anatomy diagram, etc etc. The total genius picture for me though, is a picture of a shower cubicle that is beginning to flood because something has blocked the drain. Not the sort of thing you want to have to construct a phrase for while frantically flicking through a phrasebook fearing the ceiling is about to collapse under the weight of rapidly accumulating shower flood water above your heads…….

    It would seem like a lazy thing to take this book instead of learning a language somewhere but I found that this was actually a great way to learn languages, or rather accumulate vocab. It was very useful when I was in India teaching English.

    You can see a little video of it on you tube, (with a psychotically jolly accordion soundtrack) which is completely wordless and just features pointing, making the point (ha!) brilliantly. I put a link up but it made a huge video link which would disrupt this comment stream so I have taken it off. You can get Point It on UK and US Amazon.

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