Fear of overcoming the language barrier is one of most common anxieties travelers face. One experience with a surly Parisian waiter who mocks your stab at French will only exacerbate the situation. Or the futile attempt to explain to your taxi driver in Bangkok the name of your hotel when he uses a vastly different alphabet. That's why we're downright giddy about the latest language translation apps. Try one of these technological beauties and you'll no longer be fumbling through the pages of the Berlitz guide.
It doesn't get easier than this. Simply say the phrase you want to translate into your phone, as if you're talking to Siri, and SayHi will translate that phrase into more than 100 languages. Even better, have the person you're trying to converse with speak into the phone and it will instantly translate his or her words. It can often get caught up on proverbial slang, but you have to love all the different dialects it uses like French Canadian.
If you're trying to save a couple bucks, go with Google Translate. Realize however, that the app requires an Internet connection. On the road without WiFi, that could lead to exorbitant data roaming charges. That said, this app is continually improving, offering an excellent text to speech engine. Another nice touch is that you can star favorite sayings and phrases and use them for offline viewing to actually start learning the language.
Can't understand a word of that Krakow menu, all in indecipherable Polish? Or perhaps you're on the road in China, lost once again. Word Lens was specifically designed for travelers who need to make out signs, menus, or museum labels. Take a photo of said nemesis and it will quickly translate text on the spot. Purchased by Google last month, expect Word Lens to work out some kinks like translating stylized fonts and the need for good lighting.