Top phrases for travel

2012-08-29 07:55

Living in this globalised world can often lull us into a false sense of certainty that somehow we'll manage to communicate effortlessly with those we meet on our travels... even those in the furthest flung corners of the world where English has never caught on. 

Well, the truth is, if you're heading to a country that has a national language (or a few) that isn't your first (second or third), communication is probably going to be a bit of a struggle. And while you may scoff at the idea of a carrying a pocket dictionary... oh wait, no, having a translation app on your phone, it's probably exactly what you should invest in. 

However, waiting till you hit your destination to start figuring out "thank yous" from "where's the bathroom" is not such a great idea. 

So, here are a few phrases we suggest you get a handle of in your holiday country's language of choice before setting a toe through border control. Seeing you might not get to memorize them all (if you can, you're pretty cool!), book mark them, write them down in your travel journal and keep them close by. 

Politeness ftw!

These should all be pretty easy and straightforward, so memorizing them before you get there shouldn't be too much of a mission. 


Thank you

No thank you



Excuse me

My name is____

Longer phrases

These could get quite complicated, and committing them to memory would be no mean feat. So, what we suggest is checking them before you go, maybe practicing those you think would be the most useful, and then writing down/bookmarking the rest and keeping them close, so you can access them easily when/if you need them. 

Things you need to know

Where's the bathroom?

I'm lost, can you help me?

How much does this cost?

Do you take credit cards?

Where's the bus stop/train station?

Where can I catch a taxi?

How do I get to [insert famous tourist attraction, museum name, hotel]

In case of emergency

I need a doctor

Where's the hospital/police station/embassy?

Call an ambulance/the police!

I'm allergic to_____

My blood type is____

I suffer from___

Just for fun

Would you like a drink?

Where can I go for a swim?

I love you

Would you like to dance?

Where's a cheap place to eat? 

Would you mind taking a photograph of us? (just make sure they don't run away with your camera!)

Do you have a lighter?

And then... a few phrases you shouldn't even look up

All photos: Shutterstock

Oh boy! You're going to do it, aren't you... and then when you're a bit tipsy, you're going to think it's a good idea and blurt them out! 

Don't. And if you do, we're not to blame!

Sheesh, it's not like I have a bomb! (at the airport or somewhere mass hysteria could happen)

You [country citizens] are quite an ugly bunch

Next round's on me (to the entire bar)

Read more on:    travel tips  |  travel international

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