The 13 Practical Phrases To Remember When Traveling

July 15, 2020

Keep these 13 practical words and phrases in mind and translate them to the local language when you are traveling to a foreign country.

Language is invariably an important aspect of traveling. Specifically, knowing the basic words and phrases to use when in a foreign country, even with limited knowledge of the local language, can help you navigate easily throughout your stay. 

Keep in mind these practical phrases when traveling to a foreign country
Photo courtesy of

The 13 Practical Phrases To Remember When Traveling

    The joy and excitement of traveling to a foreign country is hard to describe. That’s because what you are feeling is actually a mix of thrill and even hesitation up to some extent. Excitement because it’s the opportunity to see beautiful new places, learn the local history and heritage, taste different cuisines, and maybe even make new friends. The hesitation comes from differences when it comes to local culture and language, especially for a non-English speaking nation. 

    The beauty of languages 

    Languages around the world possess their own allure in terms of accent and intonation, and even the words unique to a particular tongue, but they can also prove to be the greatest challenge when traveling. Without a doubt, a lot of English words have assimilated well in other languages, but that is simply not enough to make it intelligible to foreigners. 

    As such, it is definitely advisable to know beforehand some practical and important phrases that may help you overcome the language or communication barrier throughout your trip. In fact, I would consider these words and phrases to be of equal importance as, say, your hotel and flight bookings, your luggage, and purchasing local currency for your travel money (if not yet, you may check rates services in trusted sites such as

    Remember these phrases when traveling to a foreign country 

    The following list is a compilation of the most useful and practical words and phrases when traveling to a foreign country. You might say that these are simple and can be quite easy to recall. However, when confronted with a challenging situation, you are susceptible to getting confused and even forgetting the things that you know.

    You can keep these in your travel notebook or smartphone for easy access, then translate them to the local language using a dictionary or a language translation app of the country where you are heading to. 

    A. Common greetings 

    These common greeting phrases are universally accepted and can even be used as is in English or translated to the local language if you want to flaunt your linguistic knowledge a little: 

    1. Hi or Hello!  

    “Hi or hello!” is probably the most basic greeting all over the globe. Both phrases can be said as is or you may add the name of a new acquaintance after it for a more personal flair. 

    2. Good morning! 

    This greeting is used to express good wishes and is used for the hours after midnight and before lunchtime, or from 1:00 AM up to about 11:59 AM. 

    3. Good afternoon! 

    If you would like to convey good wishes to an acquaintance for the hours after lunch time, then use this greeting. You can use “Good afternoon!” as a greeting until 6:00 PM 

    4. Good evening! 

    Use “Good evening!” to greet your friends, acquaintances, or other people after 6:00 PM and before 12:00 midnight. 

    5. Good night!

    Use “Good night!” to express good wishes when you are parting from your companions at night or are about to retire to your bed. 

    6. Goodbye!

    The expression “Goodbye!” is used to communicate good wishes when you are about to part from your friends, regardless of the occasion and the time of the day. 

    These greetings can be used as standalone phrases or, for a more personal style, add the name of the person you are with. 

    B. Asking for places and directions 

    If you are exploring a new place or country, expect that you will be asking a lot of directions. As such, it is also practical to know some phrases and questions related to 

    7. Where is the (insert name of place here)?

    This is a generic question that you may use to ask for the location of a place where you want to go to. 

    8. How do I go to (insert name of place here)? 

    This is a specific question if you want to ask for details on how to reach a certain place or location. 

    9. How do I go back from (insert name of place here)? 

    Use this question when you want to ask for instructions on how to go back from a particular place to a reference point. 

    10. What can I ride to get to (insert name of place here)? 

    Use this question if you want to ask for details on which type of transportation to take to and from a certain destination. 

    Perhaps one word whose translation to the local language might prove to be exceedingly useful is “bathroom," since all people use it. Just say "bathroom" in the local language and you will surely be directed to where it is located. It would be helpful to know the native translation especially during times when the call of nature is urgent. 

    C. Other important phrases 

    In addition to the words and phrases that I mentioned above, it would also be useful to know the local translation of these words: 

    11. Yes and no 

    Being able to express affirmation or agreement, and refusal or denial in the local vernacular would be tremendously valuable to you when you are traveling. 

    12. Pardon me, I don’t understand

    You can use this statement to let the other person know that you are having a challenging time understanding their words or sentences. It is also a subtle way of requesting for the person to repeat the sentence. 

    13. Thank you 

    express your appreciation or gratitude for the help and hospitality you received when you are traveling by saying “thank you!” in the local language. 

    Language translation tools to bring when traveling 

    If you want to arm yourself with basic knowledge about the local language of the country you are going to, you can always take a crash course before your trip. However, not everybody has the luxury of time and the extra money to enroll in a language course. 

    Smartphone apps to help you translate practical phrases when traveling to a foreign country
    Photo courtesy of

    As such, here are some tools that you can bring with you and use when you embark on that trip: 

    1. Dictionary 

    This may not be a popular choice nowadays but a good, old trusted dictionary is still one of your best options for a language translation tool. 

    2. Google Translate 

    This popular app is easy to use and carry around because you just need to install this in your smartphone. Keep in mind that you need to download language packs to be able to use this online 

    3. Microsoft Translator 

    This is another highly-downloaded and widely-used language translation app because of rich features that allow text, voice, and image translations. In order to use this offline, you also need to download language packs. 

    4. iTranslate 

    This app allows translation and also serves as a language dictionary. However, for you to be able to use its many features, you need to upgrade to the premium version. 

    5. SayHi 

    This popular voice translation app can also perform translations of text and conversations. Its camera translation tool is perfect for converting Japanese, Korean, and Chinese characters.

    The applications in this list can be downloaded both from Google Play and Apple App Store. They are all free while some have the option for paid upgrades to unlock additional features.


    When you are traveling to a foreign country, especially if it is non-English speaking, it would be good to know phrases and words that will be useful to you during your trip. Remember that when you get lost in translation, there is a big change that you can get lost during your trip altogether. 

    A dictionary is a great tool to translate practical words and phrases when traveling to a foreign country
    Photo courtesy of

    You can translate these to the local language and keep these in your smartphone or travel notebook that you can carry around when you travel. Alternatively, you can just download a language translation app to your phone and commit to memory the important phrases that need to be translated when you do set out in your adventure. 

    Ultimately, take advantage of the opportunity to learn a thing or two about local language, culture, lifestyle, and even cuisine.

    This post may contain affiliate links, including those from Amazon Associates, which means that if you book or purchase anything through one of those links, we may earn a small commission but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are ours and we only promote products that we use.

    Leave A Reply

    Feel free to share your thoughts! Relevant comments are welcome on this site. However, spam and promotional comments will not be published.


    1. Interesting post. Knowing the basics of what you need to generally ask and knowing this in the primary language of where you are is quite helpful.

    2. I love to travel. Great tips for being prepared!

    3. These are excellent suggestions. Konwing a few phrases can help you get conversations started, and it shows that you care enough to at least try to learn the language before taking a trip.

    4. As a frequent traveler, I can attest that these are all excellent phrases to know no matter where you are. It makes things so much easier.

    5. I hope that I can one day travel abroad. When I do, I plan to learn all of these phrases.

    6. That's a smart list of things to know when traveling. We have traveled where we didn't know the language and that was challenging even with practice and a dictionary, but it was still awesome.

    7. This would be a good post to expand upon. You could show what these different phrases are in several different languages, for example.

    8. I think common courtesy greetings in local languages is a must. Of course, hi or hello are default greetings. Smile also!

    9. What an informative post and it's always good to prepare everything beforehand. Those are some great tips and points to keep in mind and thanks for the share.

    10. Clap! Clap! Clap! You have said it all and so beautifully! Safe travels is all I can wish you.

    11. not really a traveler but knowing a few phrases in other languages really helped me break the ice before. + google translate is a saviour especially with the hoard of kbeauty items nowadays.

    12. Camilo Mendoza Villanueva Jr8 May 2022 at 03:07

      I'm not much into traveling but when I was younger I used to get my way getting lost walking and this article brings back so much memory of those days of youth! The weird thing is I survived without saying a thing, but that was pre-Internet and mobile days. Thank you for listing the most useful translation apps here although I wonder how people would react if you use these apps on them? By the way, how can I share such an insightful article on my blog,, from your blog like sharing shares on Facebook? Or would you even be open to that?