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Basic Phrases All Travelers Must Learn

No matter if it’s a transit country or your main destination, there are always a few words and phrases all travelers must learn in the local language. The reasons for this?

  • You might find yourself trying to communicate with someone who can’t speak English;
  • It will help to find places easier during your journey;
  • It can save you from unpleasant situations; or,
  • It shows your respect for the locals.

Long story short, you can only benefit from it. Here are some topics a traveler should go through before leaving his or her home country:

Basic Expressions:

If your language skills are at zero, you should start with the most basic phrases. Imagine that you’re in hurry and don’t have the time to take the dictionary or your phone out of your pocket to try and find out the proper pronunciation. Travelers know a lot about this problem. But then you realize that you have already learned something by talking aloud, and so the problem is solved.

These phrases are great because they are easy to learn and you don’t need to use or understand any difficult grammar structure.

  1. Making contact:

  • Salam alykum, Grüß Gott, Bonjour. Basic hellos. These greetings are the ones you will use first while traveling, no matter where you are going. Learn as many of them as you’ll need.
  • Yes and No: Always important!
  • Thank you: The expression you can’t use enough. It shows politeness, so use it!
  • Sorry: Awkward situation solved!
  • Excuse me: Asking for help is elementary. You should know how to initiate a conversation.
  1. Food:

  • Restaurant: This is one you’ll read a thousand times, but it’s always better to know it before you arrive.
  • Can I have a …, please?: Every time you buy something or make an order, you’ll most likely say it in this way. It’s a must-know.
  • The bill, please: The expression you must learn but you don’t want to use.
  • Food allergies: If you have any food allergies you should look this one up in the dictionary beforehand. I always had a hard time describing diseases of which I didn’t know the name.
  1. Life-savers:

  • Where can I find the toilet?: Oh yeah… Run Forrest, run.
  • How much does it cost?: The question you will ask and then get a heart attack.
  • What time is it?: Time is money!
  • Help!: This one is for emergency situations, but is always necessary to know.
  1. Travelling:


  • Best to learn the words for as many methods of transportation as possible. (e.g. airport, taxi, bus, boat, ferry).
  • How can I get to the …?:  Thanks to Google Maps people ask this question a lot less nowadays. But once you don’t have Internet connection, you’ll be thankful that you learned this one.
  • Other important words: passport, duty, shop and map.
  1. Numbers:


  • In case you need to say a bigger number than ten and don’t want to use your toes, it’s helpful to know these.

Pro-tip: You should learn some model answers as well, because if you ask a question and don’t have a clue what the respondent answered, it’s the same as not asking them anything.

The Most Common Verbs (Advanced Level For A Short Stay).

If you already know some words and expressions, it’s time to take a step further to more fluent communication. The words and phrases you’ve just learned can help you in a basic situation but they aren’t enough if your goal is to stay in the country for more than a week while surrounded by locals.

But don’t worry! Here’s the solution if you are ready to use your whole body to be understood.

  • Step 1: Learn the most commonly used verbs in that language; you can find them with the power of the Internet in a minute. Here are the most used ones in English: be, have, do, say, get, make, go, know, take, see, come, think, look, want, give, use, find, tell, ask, work, seem, feel, try, leave, call.
  • Step 2: Play games or activities! The rules are easy: you say the word you have already learned and try to use your epic pantomime skills to fill out the other parts of the sentences. It’s not just a stylish way to express yourself, but it makes learning a lot more fun at the same time.

Basic grammar.

If you know these words, phrases, and expressions, you already decrease your chances of experiencing a situation that you don’t want. If you are travelling as an exchange student, you’ll require some grammar skills as well. You can save a lot of time if you are travelling with the basics of any language in your head already. It’s much easier once you have the groundwork on which you can build. So the more you know before the journey, the faster you can improve during your stay! But make sure to take your time with the grammar. Eventually, you’ll need it.

 

What were the expressions you have learned first when traveling to another country? How good were your language skills when you arrived versus after? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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Martin

Travelling. It leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller. I am a 17 year old Hungarian exchange student currently spending this year in Germany. I like meeting new people, discovering unknown places and experiencing something crazy day by day!


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