The Ultimate Travel Communication Tool: a T-shirt!

The Ultimate Travel Communication Tool: a T-shirt!

I’ve been travelling for years around the world, constantly obsessed with communicating and sharing stories with the people of the countries that I visit.
This obsession has led me to learn and study the languages of almost every country that I’ve travelled to so far. I often spend more time studying the language of a country than seeking interesting places to visit. For me, being able to communicate is crucial. I also don’t want to limit myself to the usual phrases people learn when visiting a foreign destination like ‘’where is the bathroom?’’ or ‘’how much does this cost?’’ I find it very limiting and a bit sad to visit a country and not be able to have a decent conversation with anyone.


But even today, after mastering more than seven different languages, I sometimes find myself in a situation where no language or hand gesture will get me where I want. How do you express to someone that you want to find the nearest highway to hitchhike or ask where is the safest place to spend the night in your tent when your vocabulary limits you?


For years I’ve been looking around for a solution, something that could help me express my ideas effortlessly. One day it came to me as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed: a T-shirt. Not just any kind of T-shirt but one that comes with 40 universal icons representing anything you could need or want to express. It’s as simple as pointing at the icons with your finger and your idea will come across like magic. It’s true that some apps for android phones offer something similar but Cynthia and I travel in a way where we can’t always rely on charging the batteries of our electronic devices. We need something a lot more practical, something that we can carry effortlessly in our adventure across the world.


Ultimate Language Tool - Sign T-Shirt - Travel - Globetrot - Journal of Nomads


We contacted Globetrotthe company that created this T-shirt and asked them if they could send us one. So far it has been the most effective communication tool in our backpack. I don’t even need to wear it all the time, it’s just very practical to have it near when I want to make my point clear. If the idea that I’m trying to express is a bit more complex, I can even use a combination of 2 or 3 symbols to make sure people understand what I mean. From asking the price of food to knowing where the closest place to get a fresh beer is or where you can get a warm shower, this shirt is absolutely fantastic. Just have a look for yourself.


Ultimate Language Tool - Sign T-Shirt - Travel - Globetrot - Journal of Nomads



It already came in very handy just a few days ago. Cynthia and I were on a little hitchhiking trip through a rural area of Georgia. We were looking for a place to camp so we wanted to ask a family if we could pitch our tent on their property. Although I’ve been studying Russian for a few months now, I forgot the word for camping or tent. I also didn’t have any dictionary with me and we were in such a remote area that we didn’t have any reception on the phone to use Google Translate. I was wearing the T-shirt so I greeted the landlady, pointed at the symbol of the tent and to the place we were hoping to camp. She understood straight away what I meant and nodded her head to confirm we could spend the night in the tent on her land. Without the T-shirt it would have been a lot more complicated to explain our intentions.


Ultimate Language Tool - Sign T-Shirt - Travel - Wild Camping - Georgia - Journal of Nomads

Unfortunately the T-shirt didn’t help us explaining our intentions to these guys


I won’t stop learning languages now that I have this T-shirt but it is a lot more practical than carrying all these heavy language books and this odd looking shirt is not only helping me with communicating with people but it also makes them smile (and often results in receiving a cup of coffee or tea) .


Ultimate Language Tool - Sign T-Shirt - Travel - Georgian woman - Journal of Nomads


If you would be interested in having the perfect solution to any barriers of communication, have a look at Globetrot‘s Facebook page so you can see all their interesting products.


* For your reference: we did NOT get paid to write this post, we just wanted to share with you how useful this T-shirt is.


Do you have a T-shirt like this or do you know any other useful language tool? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow Nicholas Danis Bertrand:

As a master language learner,I travel the world fascinated with words and expressions from distant cultures.If you would ask me what weighs more in my backpack, it would probably be my phrasebooks.

  • Ha Lef

    Great post about the t-shirt! I read about this a while back and thought that it is a great idea. Your post is the first “real people’s experience” of the benefit of this shirt. Although the shirt itself is probably not my style to wear, I’ll see whether they have some other designs, ie a notebook size card that I can bring around. Thanks for sharing, and travel safe! LOL at the Weed symbol.

    • Thanks! The shirt has been very useful so far and we both have one now, with different symbols (one without a weed symbol 😉 ). They have different sizes and colors. We’ve also worked with little notebook symbols but it’s fun to see the reaction of people when we us this T-Shirt to communicate 😀

  • Your journey sounds amazing, are you going towards Iran next? I could do with one of those t-shirts, I’ll check out the web site. Locals must love looking at it too, what a genius idea!

    • Hi James, no we won’t go to Iran. Niko is Canadian and it’s a bit of a hassle to travel independently as a Canadian. There’s a way around it but we’ve decided to put our energy into other countries 🙂 You’ve been there? Yes, those shirts are super handy and locals really love it! It’s a fun ice-breaker 🙂

  • Air Flight Cheap Tickets

    I must admit, it’s a brilliant idea with the t-shirt. You don’t even have to speak much if you wish just point at an icon and you good. Definitely gonna make people want to assist you the more. Will get one and be adding more icon like “Thank you” and probably the weed, good for the spirit! Nice post.

    • Hey, that’s a good idea, to add an icon like “Thank you”. Just wondering which symbol would make that clear 🙂

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