Have all the addresses you need for your trip prepared in both English and Chinese. For example, hotels all have their own Chinese names that do not match the English name. For this reason, it is always good to keep names and addresses with you in both languages to avoid problems with taxis and directions.
If your Chinese is a rough or just non-existent, you need to be prepared with some basics. Unlike many other tourist destinations, English is not common in China and it is very rare to be able to use it with locals outside of foreign hotels and some major tourist attractions. It’s even rarer outside of Beijing and Shanghai. Here are some good resources for you to use while traveling in China:
Google Translate is a good tool to use because it offers a download features that allows you to access its translation dictionary while offline, which means you’ll still be able to use it without an internet connection. Google Translate also allows you to enter and translate full sentences, unlike Pleco. It is also the only Google app that isn’t blocked in China.
Pleco is the most most popular translation app. Its offline dictionary means it is available to use whether or not you have service, and it allows you to search in both English and Pinyin (the official romanization of the Chinese characters based on their pronunciation.).
Students are often your best chance for help as they grew up learning English in school. Just be aware that many of them were not taught by a native English speaker and are likely to communicate best by writing/reading.