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Language Learning for Travel Series | Part 3 | Essential Travel Phrases

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Now that we’ve established why you need to learn a language before travel, and how to learn it, let’s move onto the next step – essential travel phrases. If you’re going for a short trip overseas, why bother with all the unnecessary titbits of language information? Knowing which phrases or words to learn helps with decreasing the clutter for vocabulary in your brain. And this is exactly what we’re going to delve into today. We shall simplify the language learning process by pointing out a few key phrases you can use – and make sure you only spend time on what’s necessary!

1.      Ways of Greeting / Introduction

Different cultures have different ways of greeting. Most South East Asians have a practice of bowing, while Indians and Thai people (among others) fold their hands in a namaste. The culture of the West involves handshakes and hugs, whilst the French practice a chaste kiss on each cheek.  Learning the regional way of greeting can really help enhance your experience, and open the door to a conversation full of cultural and historical significance. Learning how to say ‘hello’, ‘hope you have a good day’ and ‘nice to meet you’ are good starters for any chat, which is why we’ve used it to start our blog on Essential Travel Phrases as well!

2.      Asking About Prices

We are faced with a myriad choice on what to spend on, how to spend and where to spend it – from the minute we step out of the airplane. Considering this fact, learning how to ask for the price of things/experiences really is an essential travel phrase.

It also helps to check out the prices of things before you leave the airport, so that you know you’re not being conned. Many foreigners face this problem simply because they are tourists, and speaking in the local language might lower the chances that this will happen.

 

3.      Numbers from 1 to 50

This goes off of the previous point – what if you successfully asked a shopkeeper how much something cost, only to not understand what they replied? Numbers not only help you read off of menu’s and understand prices, but are also useful in conversation. Talking about your age, how many days you’re staying somewhere, the date when you will leave, etc. all use numbers as well.

And if it helps – which it probably will – you can learn the numbers from 1 through 50, as well as the big bosses – 100, 500, 1000 and 10,000. So, you not only learn essential travel phrases, but words along with them!

 

4.      ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘I Don’t Know’

A classic situation involving a misinterpreted sentence usually occurs when it comes to agreement or disagreement. Even when two people speak the same language, it can be confusing to figure out if they explicitly side with you or not. You may want to go to the bathroom, and nodding might help you establish this publicly, but it may be a different case if you are made to chose between one of many things.

For this reason, it is important to know how to agree, disagree and state your indifference in a foreign language – you might not know what you’re getting into otherwise!

 

5.      ‘I can’t speak ____’

Here, the ‘______’ stands for your language of choice. Be it Dutch, Korean or Hindi, knowing how to say that you don’t speak the language is more useful than you think. This establishes the need to start searching for new ways to communicate – at the start of the conversation itself. You won’t make your conversation partner annoyed with having to repeat sentences, and helps them understand and sympathise with your predicament as well.

 

6.      Gratitude and Apologies

In less fancy terms, this just means that you need to know how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry/excuse me’. Gestures of politeness do warrant a response, and gestures of rudeness usually demand one – which means you need linguistic ammo in your bag to be able to tackle both situations! And these essential travel phrases are just that.

Being able to use these two words show that you are considerate, and are being respectful towards someone’s time and efforts. It never goes in vain to appreciate, especially in a place that is so new to you! This is in assumption (and hope) that you’ll be using the ‘thanks’ more than the ‘sorry’, that is!

 

7.      Asking for Directions

Whether it’s to the toilet or to a tourist landmark, asking for directions is an imperative part of one’s trip – and this is why the phrase “how can I get (there)” is one of our essential travel phrases. To know how to get to a place, you might need a fair understanding of directional words in the language, such as ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘climb up’ or ‘keep going straight’ as well.

When you know how to get from one place to another, travel becomes way less of a hassle and much more about enjoying the ride.

 

8.      Allergies

If you have any allergies, this one’s for you. Mentioning what you’re allergic to in any food setting is imperative, so to say that this is one of our essential travel phrases is not an understatement. Learning names of objects/phenomena that you’re allergic to, as well as ways to say I’m allergic to (whatever it is you’re allergic to) makes sure that you don’t have any hiccups related to these things at least. One bad allergic reaction can really mess up one’s day – including everything you scheduled, and maybe also some monetary losses in terms of healthcare and cancelling on plans.

 

9.      Things you need

When you really need something, you should be able to cut to the chase and get it. Even if it seems a bit curt and may come off as rude, in that situation it is best to take that over misinterpretation. Whether it be a toilet or a bottle of water, learning how to say “I need ___” could come in extremely handy on a short trip. Of course, it needs to be noted that you will have to learn some words of “necessities”, such as ‘water’, ‘toilet’, ‘toothbrush’, and ‘food’.

 

10. Please help me!

Knowing how to ask for help is great when you feel stuck. And being in a completely different country with no prior exposure can really make you feel stuck sometimes. Which is why “can you please help me?”, or “excuse me?” would be excellent and essential travel phrases to learn. And don’t worry – asking for help in a foreign country is not a bad idea, even if you came across a few unhelpful people. Exercise caution, but don’t be afraid to reach out!

 

11. At Least One Compliment

Don’t you love listening to people talking nicely about you? A compliment is always a nice way to start off a conversation, and establishes an endearing atmosphere – perfect for someone who might make mistakes in the midst of a chat. Learning how to say “you look pretty today”, or “this country is so beautiful” might increase your chances of locals being friendly towards you and helping you get things done. It is also generally a nice way to start of anyone’s day, and if you’d like to get a compliment, why not give one out first and see what happens?

 

12. Words for commonplace objects/places

Before you learn essential travel phrases, you must also learn the words used to make them. Sometimes, even if you know a full phrase, figuring out how to adapt it to your particular circumstance may not be possible if your vocabulary is limited. This is why you must see what words you think you would definitely use – based on what your purpose of travel is, where you’ll tentatively be going and how long you’ll be there. Common words to note across all languages and countries that travellers might need include ‘café’, ‘toilet’, ‘hotel’, ‘police station’ (places), ‘bread’, ‘tea’, ‘breakfast’(food/drink), ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘north’, ‘south’ (directions) and days of the week.

 

 

13. For When You Leave

Even a good conversation eventually comes to an end. Which is why, closing a conversation arbitrarily – by walking away, or just awkwardly waving – may not be the best way to send off someone. For this reason, knowing how to say goodbye may be as important as being aware of how to say hello.

Rookie misinterpretations may occur too. For example, there are a few words that mean ‘goodbye’ in Japanese. The first, またね (mata ne) means see you, and implies that you may meet this person at some later date. The next and more commonly misinterpreted, さようなら (sayou nara) has an implication that you are saying goodbye forever. Its meaning is much deeper, and not often used when exiting an everyday conversation. Knowing the difference between the two can avoid any confusion, and avoid any awkwardness as well.

            And There You Have It!

13 important phrases for when you travel next! If you’d like to know more about why you should pick up a new language before you travel, or the ways in which you can do so, check out our recent blogs by clicking the link! If you’ve already started learning a language to travel – great! We’re proud of you 😊 the next step in your travel journey would be visa services – which we @ Visa2Fly can help you with! Travel insurance and SIM cards are also our forte, so hit us up to know more.

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