Top 5 phrases in 5 different languages every traveler should learn!


Recently, I saw the question, “If you could snap your fingers and be proficient in anything, what would it be?” I found myself answering very quickly… LANGUAGES! I would absolutely love to be fluent in another language, I mean while I’m at it, I might as well say I would love to be a linguistic mastermind, haha! Actually, there is nothing more appealing for me to learn at the moment. Being multilingual is kinda like having a super power, right?! I have only taken small jabs at learning Spanish, French, German, and Italian. I hope to be fluent in at least one of these one day, but for now I have decided these are the top 5 phrases every traveler should try to learn:   

 1. Greetings or Salutations!

Just saying a simple ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ in someone’s language speaks volumes and shows respect and politeness. Learning how to say phrases like saying ‘Good Morning, ‘See You Soon’, ‘Good Evening’, etc. are always good to know as well. Go a step further and learn the formal and informal uses too, like in Italian, a formal greeting would be Buongiorno and the informal greeting is Ciao (I super love that Ciao means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, don’t you?!).

 2. Please and Thank you!

Having good manners is definitely a universal language. Now, I understand some of what consists of having bad manners in America might not always be considered bad in other countries and vice versa. I’ve heard that burping after a meal in some countries is considered a compliment to the chef, not so much here in the States. However, I’m pretty sure most would agree that saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the native language of the person your speaking to would be appreciated and well received.   

 3. Do you speak…?

So far, most places I’ve visited have had quite a few people that speak English. I’ve found that as long as I’m being polite and just ask “do you speak English?” in their language, eight times out of ten people say ‘yes’. Funny story…My husband and I went to a little cafe in Paris and this rude person (unfortunately, he was an American **shake head in disappointment**) barged in, asking the barista why he wasn’t getting wifi. He disregarded everyone that was in line and demanded an answer! The barista didn’t seem to understand him at all. In fact, the barista didn’t speak “English” at all until we thanked him for our coffee and then overheard us talking about getting directions to our next location, then answered us in perfect English (with a beautiful French accent, of course!). My point is, be kind…it really does come back in the best kind of ways:-) 

Tip 1: If you are looking to purchase a language learning program, you might consider the company Fluenz. I received their Italian 1 for a birthday present before visiting Italy. I found it to be very useful on our trip!  

  4. Where is…?

This is an important phrase, however, if your asking for directions you might want to learn a few other simple words like ‘right’ and ‘left’. Don’t underestimate the power of body language and hand gestures, though! I have found many bathrooms just by getting pointed in the right direction;-) Also, learning the words ‘this’ and ‘that’ have been very helpful! Pointing to a map or an address and asking, “Where is this?” can be a lot easier than trying to pronounce an Italian museum correctly. We went to a museum in Italy called Le Domus Romane Di Palazzo Valentini…try to pronounce that quickly or correctly, ha! Speaking of Italy, I love how you can understand a lot of what they are saying just by their hand gestures and body language! Read about my visit to this museum in the following link…Celebrating in Italy, Rome part 3! 

 5. How much? or Check, please! 

I couldn’t decide which one was more important, so these two phrases tied at number 5. Both of these phrases would be useless without knowing at least a few numbers or unless the person you’re speaking with answers in your language. So, learning how to count would be necessary as well…sorry I keep adding to the list like that. Whoops! I really love how other countries don’t give you the bill unless you ask for it first. It makes it quite easy to sit and enjoy your meal without feeling rushed at all, but trying to get their attention without  saying ‘check, please’ is almost impossible at times. I also found that a lot of open-air markets and even some boutiques don’t price their merchandise. So, knowing how to ask ‘how much?’ has been very helpful too. 

Tip 2: When shopping, try using a calculator to show numbers to sales attendants. This will help for communicating numbers without having to speak them;-)

Tip 3: Download translate apps like Google Translate, iTranslate, or iHandy! Just click on the name to see how each app can assist you on your travels. 

So, there is my top 5 phrases in 5 languages (travelers should try to learn these phrases in whatever language used in the country they’re traveling to). The only reason ‘yes’ and ‘no’ wasn’t on my list is because we can all communicate that easily without speaking, yes?! (But, those words would be good to learn as well, if you don’t already know them.)

What phrases or words would you add to the list? 

14 Comment

  1. What a great idea! It is very useful, thank you so much for sharing.

    1. andelec says:

      Thanks, so glad to hear!!

  2. Lizzie says:

    Yes, completely agree! I think it makes such a difference why you go that extra mile to learn a few key phrases from the place you’re visiting 🙂

    1. andelec says:

      Thank you, Lizzie, for your lovely comment:-)

  3. I also love enjoying a comedy word and throwing it into things randomly for amusement. asciugamano (towel) is a fave!

    1. andelec says:

      Haha, yes!! Comedy words are a necessity;-) Thanks for reading!!

  4. Chelsie says:

    I lived in China for 6 months and had no Chinese when I went. By the time I left I had each of these phrases down in Mandarin (and more) and they were VERY helpful!

    1. andelec says:

      Living in China for 6 months sounds AmAzing! I visited Hong Hong for a month and loved every bit of it:-) Great job learning Mandarin…living in a place can really speed up the learning process, I’m sure! Hope to live overseas one day! More specifically, Europe;-)

  5. I want to be multilingual too! You’re right, learning key phrases in the language of the place you’re visiting is courteous and respectful. I hope to learn Italian and French better for the next time we visit! Maybe then we’ll be able to go together! 🙂

    1. andelec says:

      Yes, I can’t wait to “try” speaking another language with you in another country, like France or Italy!! Let’s go tomorrow…oh wait, I guess we would need to learn that language first, haha! Nah, we can just use google translate and practice while we’re there;-)

  6. Great tips! I do a lot of traveling and have been wanting to learn another language. Still haven’t decided which one, will have to try out the program you recommended 🙂

    1. andelec says:

      Hi Stephanie! Yes, I really liked using Fluenz…let me know how you like it if you do decide to try it:-) Happy Traveling!!

  7. Dede says:

    This is great! Wish I could bookmark it. Thanks for sharing – I am always in awe of folks who can speak several languages. Knowing how to say “Where is…” has saved me a couple of times from being completely lost in a new place.

    On an unrelated note, I finally wrote my reply blog to your Liebster Award nomination – so sorry for delay! I took a blog/social media break right before you nominated me. Thanks again for the nomination – it means a lot, especially when I think nobody reads my blog, other than my husband (and I make him read it). Cheers!

    1. andelec says:

      Yes, learning how to say “Where is…” can be very helpful! Thank you, Dede!

      Haha, yes, I too make my hubby read my posts;-) Excited to read your nomination post! Love reading your blog, especially reading about your love for the food in each place!

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