Commit These Phrases to Memory Before You Travel to a Foreign Country

Being able to communicate, especially in emergency conditions, can save a trip and an experience from falling apart, super quickly.

1 / 10
Woman at airport
Photo: Shutterstock

Upon arrival

Chances are someone at the customs desk knows basic English, unless you’re travelling to a remote country. Still, “certain phrases are helpful especially for immigration and customs officials where clarity is crucial,” says Sharon Schweitzer, international protocol expert and founder of Protocol & Etiqutte Worldwide. Ones to know: “Do you speak English?” and “I have nothing to declare in my baggage, no fruit or vegetables.”

Travelling to a Spanish-speaking country? Here are Spanish phrases everyone should know.

2 / 10
Italian restaurant
Photo: Shutterstock


If you have a food allergy, it’s vital that you know the specific words to describe what your allergic too, says Schweitzer. Simple phrases can save your life, such as: “Does this have nuts, eggs, sugar, gluten?” and “I am allergic to _________.”

3 / 10
Couple with map
Photo: Shutterstock


In a locale where you can’t rely on your iPhone for directions, these phrases will come in handy. Know how to say and understand: “Excuse me, please, where is ______?” and “Do we turn left, right, straight ahead?”

Here are 11 Things Highly Organized People Do on Their Smartphone.

4 / 10
Woman with watch
Photo: Shutterstock


Crossing time zones can be a bit tricky when it comes to getting over jet lag—and punctuality. Handy phrases include: “Excuse me, what time is it,” or “Do you have the time?”

5 / 10
Woman with luggage in foreign country
Photo: Shutterstock

Modern manners

To avoid coming across as a rude tourist, consider learning how to say these phrases to ensure a gracious interaction from locals and avoid these behaviours that are considered rude in other countries. “Familiarizing yourself with how formal the culture is can save you some embarrassment,” says Schweitzer. Put these phrases on your list to learn: “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse me”, and “I’m sorry.”

6 / 10
Ambulance from London, England
Photo: Shutterstock


Knowing words like “hospital,” “medical emergency,” “heart or cardiac,”; “sickness,” and understanding a country’s EMS system can save you in an emergency situation. “Along with these phrases, make sure to save emergency numbers, copies of traveller’s insurance, and embassy information in your phone,” says Schweitzer. Commit these phrases to heart: “Where is the hospital?””Call an ambulance,” and “He/She has___”

7 / 10
Close-up of credit card
Photo: Shutterstock

Monetary principles

In some countries, using credit or debit cards isn’t as common as it is in the United States. “Knowing how to ask if they take credit cards before being seated at a restaurant will save you the embarrassment of realizing you don’t have enough cash on hand when the check comes around,” says Schweitzer. Try these: “Do you accept credit cards?” or “Where is the Bureau de Change or Money Exchange?”

Check out 8 Ways to Travel (for Free!) on Credit Card Rewards.

8 / 10
Bathroom signs
Photo: Shutterstock

Pressing needs

Knowing how to ask where the nearest bathroom is always useful, says Schweitzer. Since this question is often prompted by urgent needs, make sure you lean ahead of time: “Can you please lead me to the nearest toilet?”

Getting ready to pack your suitcase? Check out these tips.

9 / 10
Train in Europe
Photo: Shutterstock


Being familiar with the pronunciation of words like train, plane, bus, automobile, ship, ferry along with station, airport, terminal, parking lot, dock, port and harbour is important when it’s time for you to bid adieu. Also familiarize yourself with major transport stations names so you can ask for them specifically. Phrases to learn include: “Is this the way to___?”, “When is the ___ arriving?”, and “I need to buy a ticket.”

10 / 10
Woman shopping while on phone
Photo: Shutterstock

There’s an app for that

Go-to app Google Translate works well with Western languages, and has a special function for Eastern languages. “The app has many features such as: translating the words by just taking a picture, allowing you to star and save commonly used phrases, and a speaking function that listens and translates voice commands,” says Schweitzer. If/when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi or data, you may want to invest in the ili. “It’s a promising instant translation device that is being released in late 2017 supporting English, Chinese, and Japanese,” says Schweitzer.

Here are 7 Ways to Avoid Mishaps When Travelling Abroad.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Newsletter Unit