So you are traveling, but you do not speak the language. That can feel very powerless and nerve-wracking. However, we got you covered. You do not have to learn an entire language. You just need to learn what will be the most useful during your trip.
Whether you are going to China, South Africa, India, Nicaragua, or France, any of these ten phrases will most likely be of great use. Also, don't be shy! Please learn to talk to native people even with just a phrase, as that can really change your travel world for the better.
10 "Check Please"
No one likes waiting in a restaurant too long for the check. Luckily some places, like Japan for example, typically bring the check with the food. However if you are a tourist, then you are likely to visit a popular place and waiters can get so busy that they forget your check.
So just learn the phase "check please" in the language of the place you are going to. That should save you some time and frustration. The staff will appreciate it too, especially if they accidentally forgot.
9 "I Would Like..."
This is another important phase when eating at a restaurant. However, it can be used in other occasions too when you are depending on someone else to get something for you.
Some tourists and traveling benefit a lot from just pointing at a menu but knowing how to say you would like something can be very beneficial if photos or a menu is not present to help you.
8 "Where Is..."
Tourists and travelers alike should always prepare for the possibility of getting lost. You are in a place you have never been before, which is extra frightening and stressful when you do not speak the native language.
So it cannot be advised enough to learn the phase "Where is" and saying the place you need to get to. Never be too shy to ask locals for help. They can be your best friend in a hard time.
7 "I'm Allergic To..."
This phrase does not pertain to everyone, but it is very important if you do have allergies. Most notably, food allergies. There are tons of travel horror stories about food allergy mistakes. If you have an intense nut or gluten allergy, then you got to tell those that are serving you food as soon as possible. There is no quicker way to ruin a trip than by going to the hospital or getting sick.
Take no chances, as you may not know all the ingredients in the food you are eating.
6 "No thank you"
Depending on where you go, it is possible that a lot of people are going to try to sell you stuff. This happens especially if you go to a touristy spot and can be recognized as a tourist. To those who are doing business, tourists are often their biggest customers and source of income.
Be polite and just say "no thank you" in their native language if you do not have time or do not want what they offer. It is better than outright ignoring them.
5 "How much?"
You probably want a souvenir right? What if the price is not listed though? You will have to ask. It is very likely that this could be your most useful phrase depending on how much you like shopping when you travel.
Another factor to consider is that prices may not be listed because the business haggles. Be sure to know that information before shopping anywhere. Haggling can take a lot of practice and knowledge of the language and customs.
4 "Sorry, I Don't Understand"
If you only are learning phrases, then you certainly will not be able to understand everything that people say to you. For example, someone else might as you for directions or just want to make conversation with a non-native.
It is polite to say, "Sorry, I don't understand," to clear up any awkwardness of the situation. Otherwise, you might have to just smile and shrug for a really long time until they get the picture. That just wastes their time and yours.
3 "Help Me"
This phrase is very general, which makes it the most useful to learn. It can help in any time of need from getting lost to getting hurt to just not being able to reach a shelf at a store. It is for both safety and for convenience.
Again, do not be shy to ask someone for help. Making any connection with a native is important to build positive bonds between travelers and locals. A typical person will feel good about helping you and you will feel good about being helped.
No matter where you go, people need to use bathrooms just like you do. They have a place for it, though the toilet may be different from what you are used to depending on where you go. Also note that some cultures and cities do not let you use their toilet unless you do business with them, so be sure to look that up about your destination.
This phrase is definitely a must to avoid awkwardness. Needing a toilet is not exactly something you can easily explain by just gesture without embarrassing yourself.
1 "Do You Speak English?"
This is an easy solution to forget. It is possible that there are others around you who can speak your language, english or otherwise. They may have learned it in school, are a teacher, or it is their native language. Whatever the case may be, these are the people who could be most helpful to you so it is important to check if they do speak your language. You may be surprised by how many others know your language.