People Are Sharing The Most Hilarious Miscommunications They Experienced While Traveling

Language barriers are a very real part of traveling to a different country, and miscommunications are only to be expected. But some of those blunders end up becoming exceptionally memorable. So, Redditor u/tina-marino asked, "What's the funniest miscommunication you've had while traveling?" Here's what people said.

1."I hired a tour guide in Hanoi, Vietnam. At one of the stops, he explained that we were at the temple of 'Little Richard.' So I ask, 'Did you say Little Richard?' He nods proudly. 'Yes, Little Richard!' I'm like, 'This temple is dedicated to Little Richard?' He is emphatic; 'Yes! This is the temple of Little Richard.' I want to tell him I'm pretty sure it is not, but just shrug. Later, I looked it up and discovered we had visited the temple of literature."

The image shows the entrance to the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam, with a path leading through a garden to an ancient, ornate gate surrounded by trees
Mariauspenskaya / Getty Images

2."I was in a tiny town deep in the Pyrenees, France, just after coming to the country. I was running to catch a train and could hear it coming but couldn't figure out where the station was (pre-smartphones), and I started panicking. I saw an older couple walking towards me, but all of the French I knew flew out of my head because I was tizzy. So, I ran up to this nice couple and yelled, "Ooh ay el choo-choo," while making the 'pull the cord' motion. This lovely couple pointed me in the right direction, but they doubled over laughing the entire time. I couldn't blame them, honestly. I made my train!"


3."I was in Greece, and I asked a group of elderly locals if I was going in the right direction to the Acropolis. They responded in Greek and said, 'Nai.' I replied, 'Ah, I see. Well, thank you anyway. I'll try to find another route.' We turned around, and the locals were confused about why we were walking away after they confirmed we were on the right path. Later, we realized that in Greek, 'nai' means 'yes,' even though it sounds negative. We made fun of this until the end of our vacation."

The image shows a scenic view of the Acropolis in Athens at dusk, with city lights and lush greenery in the foreground, and dramatic clouds in the sky
Petesphotography / Getty Images

4."We were in Rome, staying at an old hotel by the Colosseum. It was very loud in our rooms, so my friend went to the front desk to complain to the receptionist that it was too loud in his room. The receptionist was not helpful, and my friend was annoyed. He then got out his Italian book and realized he had spent 15 minutes repeating to the guy, 'I don't like my ears!'"


5."My partner is allergic to peanuts, and in Japan, we used Google Translate to communicate this. It worked well except in one cafe, where the waiter came back with a Google Translate screen saying, 'There might be peanuts in the poodle.'"

People dining in a restaurant, two hands using chopsticks, plates of food, and glasses of beer on the table. Others are applauding in the background
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6."I was in Japan a few years ago with a friend. We flew into Tokyo for a few nights in Shinjuku before using the rail pass to travel around. We checked into the hotel, then headed out for food and some drinks; my friend had researched a place called Piss Alley to go to, which despite its name, was a good idea. We went into a little restaurant for food, and they'd put out a perfectly square piece of tofu to snack on, although, at that moment, we had no idea what it was. We figured it must be soap to clean our hands before eating, which seemed logical, so at the same time, we picked up the tofu and started smushing it into our hands. All the staff and other customers just looked at us, horrified. After a few seconds, we figured out it wasn't soap."


7."I just moved to France and started a new job. I haven't spoken French for a long while and am quite rusty. I needed to set up a meeting with a female colleague. Instead of telling her, 'Let's meet in your room in the office,' I translated from Italian and said, 'On se voit dans ta Chambre,' which is more like let's meet in your bedroom. She had a good laugh. A few days later, I was talking to another female colleague who said I needed a favor (work-related). In Italian, one can say 'mi fai un favore' or 'mi fai un piacere.' Of course, when I translated the latter and said, 'j'ai besoin d'un plaisir,' I realized it roughly translates to 'can you pleasure me.' I am proud to report my French has greatly improved since then."

A group of six people are in a modern office meeting room, seated around a table with papers and a whiteboard. The room has large windows and contemporary lighting
Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images

8."My Thai friend taught me how to ask for a glass of red wine and fried shrimp...or so I thought. I tried my hand at ordering in Thai, and once the staff and my friend stopped laughing, they let me in on the joke. I had asked for red chicken and fried mosquitoes."


9."I ordered ice cream on a 'coño' (which basically translates to 'pussy') instead of a cono (cone) in Spain. Then I tried to say 'I'm so embarrassed' in Spanish, so I said 'soy tan embarasada,' which means 'I'm so pregnant.'"

A dropped ice cream cone with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the ground
Martin Diebel / Getty Images/fStop

10."I was backpacking in Patagonia and trying to re-enter Argentina after being in Chile for a month. The border officer demanded to see my 'sheep,' and I understood nothing because I never had any sheep. We became increasingly frustrated with each other until the officer went to get a colleague who spoke better English. The other officer checks my papers and again asks me about the whereabouts of my sheep. I explained that I left Argentina on a ship, and that's when it clicked for us. According to my documents, I left Argentina on a sheep, and they wanted to declare it before I came back."

Two hikers with large backpacks and trekking poles walk across a rocky terrain towards snow-covered mountains
Dzmitrock87 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11."I used to live in Japan, and when I first moved there, my motto was, 'I'm okay with making 10,000 mistakes daily.' The following was my first major one. I was invited over to dinner by a lovely couple in my apartment. They had a baby. I wanted to show off my newfound Japanese skills from my paper dictionary when I entered the house. What I meant to say was 'ie ga kirei,' which means 'your home is beautiful.' I actually said, 'ie ga kirai,' which translates to 'your home is disgusting.' They kept their smiles up, but I could tell they were slightly jarred. It got worse. During dinner, I said the other thing I had learned, 'akachan ga sugoi kawaii,' — 'your baby is very cute,' but what I said was 'akachan ga sugoi kowaii' — 'your baby is terrifying.' This time, they weren't so stoic, and the father sort of choked on his food..."

Various traditional Japanese dishes including tofu, vegetables, and rice on a wooden table with chopsticks in hand

12."I lived and worked in Italy for a few years, and I tried to learn the language. My Italian isn't too bad now, but initially, it was rough. During that early period, I once stopped at a cafe to get a sandwich and a drink. They had peach tea in bottles in the cooler, so I asked for 'tè alla pesce.' The woman at the counter gave me the strangest look. I figured I'd pronounced it poorly, so I again said, speaking as distinctly as possible, 'Vorrei un tè alla pesce, per favore.' She then burst out laughing. I was ordering fish tea. I should have asked for tè alla pesca. That's a mistake I definitely never made again."


13."In Panama, while attempting to buy jeans, I spent five minutes telling a store owner about my desire to buy pants for horses (caballos) instead of men (caballeros), thanks to my broken Spanish."

A rack displaying several pairs of blue jeans hung closely together by their belt loops

14."'Bolsa' in Spanish (where I grew up) means plastic bag. In Dominican Republic Spanish, it means nutsack. So you can imagine the horror of the shop owner's face when I insisted I needed her to give me a new nutsack because mine ripped. The security guard had to come over to explain."


15."I was in a group of about 15 family and friends in Salzburg. We asked a nice German woman to take our photo. She takes one, then says, 'OK, back up,' so we all shuffle like three feet backward as a group. She immediately starts laughing and explains that she was taking a backup photo. Safe to say the smiles in the second photo were genuine."

A person holding and looking through a camera, with their face mostly obscured by the camera
Tais Policanti / Getty Images

16."When traveling solo in Vietnam, I boarded a public ferry in the lower delta. I noticed that everyone on board was dressed in sort of fancy attire, but I figured it was just travelers in southeast Asia. 15 minutes into the ride, someone started pouring champagne and passing it to passengers. I was impressed with the service on a public ferry. The person pouring champagne got to me and gave me a puzzled look as I reached for a glass. It was then I realized I got on a private boat. We laughed, and they dropped me off at the next public ferry dock."


17."A female friend was studying in London and fell down in class. Folks asked if she was okay. She replied, 'I think I simply bruised my fanny,' The class was stunned silent. Apparently, fanny means vagina over there."

A classroom with students sitting at desks facing a teacher who is standing at the front, next to a whiteboard and map
Maskot / Getty Images/Maskot

Have you experienced an embarrassing or hilarious travel miscommunication? Tell us in the comments or drop your story into this anonymous form.