List love: phrases you must know when travelling a foreign country

As much as it would be so much more damn convenient, not everyone in the world speaks English.  This makes it a little tricky when you’re travelling in a country where the locals speak a language that sounds like a random jumble of sounds.  You may be tempted to try speaking s-l-o-w and LOUD English at them (in conjunction with flailing arms) in an attempt to communicate, or you could learn a few handy phrases in the foreign language to help you get by.  If you have no idea where to start, try these important ones.

5.  Hello, good bye, thank you – Hola, Zbogom, Dziękuję

If you only learn a few phrases in a foreign language, these pleasantries are essential. Saying “bonjour” with a friendly smile might even soften the stoniest of French faces (not guaranteed though!)

4.  That is much too expensive! – Das ist zu teuer!

This is a very handy phrase to help you bargain down the price of that tacky wooden ashtray souvenir, even if it is already dirt cheap compared to your standard ashtrays back home.

3.  Where is the toilet/train station? – Où sont les toilettes? Πού είναι το σιδηροδρομικό σταθμό

Whether you’re busting for the loo, or running late for a train or a bus, it’s always handy to be able to ask someone where something is. And if you can’t learn a list of nouns, you could always practice a few mimes to get the point across – arms outstretched as a plane (airport), the chugging motion of wheels (train or bus station), a hunched and cross-legged position combined with desperate look (toilet), etc.

2.  You are beautiful. You are handsome – Du är vacker. Eğer yakışıklı

Charming your way into the pants of a local can give you an insider’s view of the local culture – not only where they like to eat out and drink, but also how they romance someone of the opposite sex. It all starts with a simple compliment in the local tongue (no pun intended) and could result in an extra incentive to learn a foreign language!

1.  Cheers! – Ganbei! Salud! Prost! Slainte! Skål! Chinchín! Kesak!

It is inevitable when you’re travelling that you will end up in a drinking hole of some description and there is no better way to make new friends than to rock up at your establishment of choice, buy a round, and propose a toast to everyone’s good health and fortune. It’s a great way to break down the barriers, learn a bit more about the local culture or political situation, and meet some interesting characters.  Na zdrowie!

What phrases do you find most useful when you’re travelling?

Checkpoint Charlie Berlin


6 thoughts on “List love: phrases you must know when travelling a foreign country

  1. Although I would love to be able to travel to a few different countries, I am glad I don’t. Hell, I have a hard enough time with the English language anymore… LOL. No, but really, one of my constant dreams is that I would be able to speak a multitude of different langauges so that I could converse no matter where I happened to be. Maybe they’ll come up with a pill for THAT!! HaHa.

  2. Just made me realize, that I’ve only been to countries where I either could speak English or knew the language.
    But either way I would always drag with me one of those little travel books with standard phrases.

  3. “Yes” is always handy for the occasions when a superbly handsome gentleman offers you a drink! 🙂 And “no” is even more important in order to reject the sometimes ceaseless offers taxis, tours and useless souvenirs that are a regular part of travelling.

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