Key Phrases to Know Before Traveling Abroad

There are many key phrases that travelers should learn how to say prior to traveling to another area that speaks a different language than you. Helpful hint: If you feel that you are not fluent with the key phrases, write them down in a little notebook, and carry it with you. Make sure that each key phrase is written in both languages, just in case you may need help from the locals.

Common Phrases

Common phrases are needed because it shows respect and politeness. It is imperative to learn words such as:

  • Please
  • Thank you
  • You’re welcome
  • Excuse me
  • Hello
  • Goodbye

Meeting New People

You will meet new people while traveling, it is inevitable. You will always need to converse with people at least a little bit. Here are a few basic conversation phrases that you will probably need to know to help the conversation move along.

  • Hello, my name is ___________
  • Do you speak (your native language)?
  • Sorry
  • I don’t understand.
  • Please, speak slower

In Case of an Emergency

Hopefully, you will not need to use these types of phrases, but accidents do happen. Even the most cautious people could end up using these phrases. It is best to be prepared for the just in case scenarios. It would be wise to learn the country’s emergency number, because it is not always 911, like it is in the U.S.

  • Help me
  • I am hurt
  • Call the police
  • I need a hospital
  • Fire
  • American Embassy

Transit Phrases

Knowing these key phrases could help you so that you do not get lost during your travels. It could be quite frustrating trying to get from point A to point B, if you cannot communicate a few simple transit phrases. To minimize stress and frustration, the following key phrases should be learned:

  • What times does it leave?
  • How long (duration)?
  • How far?
  • Right, left
  • Where is . . . ?
  • Airport
  • Bus Station
  • Train Station

Dining Phrases

These phrases are essential to learn if you would like to communicate about the food on the menu, your bill including gratuity, where the restroom facility is, etc. Sometimes, pointing, and hand gestures just do not cut it when trying to communicate, and without these essential phrases, your dining experience could be a horrible experience.

  • Bottled water (tap water may not be safe to drink)
  • Can I have . . . 
  • I am allergic to . . . 
  • Do you take credit cards?
  • Is the tip included?
  • Check, please.
  • Where is the restroom?
  • How much is . . . ?

Health and Wellness

If you have a chronic illness, take routine medication, are just preparing for the possibility that you may catch some sort of travel bug, or may need a few things from a pharmacy, these particular key phrases will help communicate your needs.

  • This hurts (point to the specific body part)
  • I am allergic to . . .
  • Where is the pharmacy?


If you cannot speak the language, it would be very difficult for you to not be taken advantage of while shopping. Learning a few key phrases will help you to negotiate prices, and keep yourself from being a victim of tourist price hikes.

  • How much?
  • Too expensive.
  • Is there a discount?
  • Do you have change?
  • No, thank you.


No matter where you might be staying while you are traveling, it is important to learn a few accommodation phrases to make your stay as pleasant as possible.

  • Can I drink tap water?
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • I lost my key.
  • Where do I find a . . . ?

It is always best to be over prepared than under prepared, especially while traveling. No one would like a frustrating or even a miserable traveling experience. Your experience is in your hands, make it incredible!   



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