When you’re traveling the world far and wide, there are lots of phrases it’d be nice to know, but just a few that are absolutely essential.
The first lot will smooth your interactions; the second will get you out of life and death situations…or just onto the best dance floor.
We break down our greatest hits below.
1. What is the best local beer? You can’t have a good travel experience if you’re not tasting the local delicacies. Each new beer can tell you something different about a region – what it values, what it grows, and how its people like to get down. So learn this phrase and grab a cool one.
2. Where is the bathroom? After all of that beer, you’ll have a few natural issues to take care of. Learning this phrase will get you out of an awkward gesturing situation.
3. I’m lost. Can you give me directions? The correct answer to this will of course be, “Did you lose your smart phone?” But, after that, any friendly native will help get you on your way. Best to learn a few navigational cues along with it, like right, left, north, south, street, corner, and so forth.
4. I’m hurt. Where is the nearest doctor? Hopefully you’ll never need any medical attention while you travel. But if you are, say, bleeding internally, you’ll want the person with whom you’re conversing to know to direct you hospital-ward, rather than to the beach.
5. I don’t feel well. I have pain in… While it’s best to know a few key organs to fill in at the end of this phrase, generally wild gesturing and miming will get you through the rest.
6. How long does the trip take? Yes, your mom trained you to stop whining this phrase from the backseat, but you’ll want some sort of idea as to when you should begin looking for your stop. There’s no guarantee anyone will stick by that schedule, of course, but we’ll save that for another phrase.
7. What time is it? Again, the correct answer would be, “Where is your smart phone?” or “Time to get a watch.” That said, you’ll want to have this phrase in your toolbox nonetheless, especially if you’re switching time zones.
8. This [bus/train/flight] has been canceled/delayed. As fellow travelers who haven’t always known this phrase in clutch situations, we’re just going to say, you need to know this phrase. And you need to know it well, given how distorted many PA systems can be. Write it on your hand if you have to.
9. Where is the train/bus station? There’s an unwritten rule in travel. You’re going to get lost, and more often than not, it’s going to be when you’re heading to or from a travel hub with heavy bags in tow. Know these phrases and reduce your back pain in no time.
10. Does anybody here speak… If you don’t know the native language but you do have a second or a third language under your belt, it can be helpful to see if someone else speaks that language in common. This can greatly enhance your interactions.
11. Where is my room? Many people at the reception desk speak too quickly. If your hotel or hostel room number has been lost in a flood of words, know how to ask for clarification.
12. Don’t touch me. Hopefully you’ll never feel threatened when you travel. But if you do, know how to be loud and assertive, even if it’s just to catch the attention of a passerby.
13. How much will it cost to get to the airport? Ask this question at the front desk so that you know the standard rate. Then ask it again in the cab so your driver knows you know from the get go and they won’t try to pass one over on you.
14. What is the exchange rate? When bouncing between countries, it’s important to do your research on a currency converter. Try and look for secure and registered businesses too, like Travelex currency exchange.
15. I will be staying here for a couple of days/week/month. When you’re headed through the border, you’ll need to be able to talk about your plans. Get these phrases straight ahead of time so you don’t look suspicious. Also good to know: “I’m here for vacation/business.”
16. Where is the dance floor? Any holiday is only as good as its dance floor. Find it. Quickly.
17. Thank you. Hey, if you’re going to be asking all of these questions, you’d better be prepared to show a little gratitude.
With these handy phrases under your belt, you’ll manage not just to have a fun time abroad, but to stay alive, too. And shouldn’t that be the goal of any good trip?
Rob Toledo loves world travel, getting mixed up in different cultures and trying his very hardest to speak foreign languages. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo