10 Essential Phrases for your next International Travels

Hello friends. Thanks for making back to this blog! I am so excited to have you here! Today I made a post packed with some personal international travel and living stories to introduce you to phrases that I find very important or essential to learn or have at least written on a notebook when traveling to a foreign country. I know we have a bunch of beautiful gadgets in this wonderful tech world that save us throughout our travels but I do find that it is also part of the experience to learn some native phrases. At least be prepared with some basic translated list of the words or phrases that will help you connect to locals and enhance your travels.I am about to share with you this list and hope you can get some practice done before traveling as this might save you from some travel hazards you would like to avoid on a vacation or holiday. Do not worry as I will also explain to you why and in what scenarios you could use these words or phrases. As a kick, I will  add some of my personal experiences too.

Without further ado ! Here is a list that I, K.C. recommend that you either have written down in a notebook or have memorised before you travel to any country in this world. Especially if you DO NOT understand the local language. Please keep in mind that I wish you well in your travels and this is why I am  sharing this list!

10 essential words and phrases for your travel notebook

1. Excuse me

Ahh . Let’s start with this one. When you are going to a restaurant or when you are asking directions you will need this word. People usually turn to you when you say excuse me in their language. Remember that in some countries it is not okay to touch an unknown person’s body. Actually scratch that I think you could get in a lot of trouble for touching anyone anywhere without their permission these days. If you at least know how to say excuse me in the native language of the place you’re visiting, trust me at least one person will look back and see what you need help with. Be hopeful as more than one person may also try to help you! 

And to be quite frank I would be jumping if you just touched me to get my attention haha
I am quite jumpy and that secret is out there. Please do not try to scare me on the streets, or surprise me, as I am a crier. You are warned!

2. Thank you

The most beautiful word in the world after I love you! Haha For this one I have a fun story. So in the western countries when someone offers you something you either respond with a yes, thank you or no thank you. That is because even if you accept something or not you are thanking that person for thinking or asking you for your intentions. Thank you is used in so many good ways.

I remember saying no thank you to a friend in highschool once ( I was a student in Japan and my friend did not speak English that well) but i do remember her getting angry at me. You see she offered me a snack that I was not quite fond of.( I was picky back in the day with food) and I turned and said “no. thank you.” My friend was confused because she thought I said “no” as if I didn’t want it, which was correct. But later because I added thank you at the end of the sentence she thought I was going to receive the snack. 

So…. in her mind, She was like make your mind human!! Do you want the snack I have offered you or NOT. 

After seeing she was a bit upset with whatever I have done wrong , I asked her what was up and she explained her side of the story. I also did explain my side of it and told her that it is something we do in my culture. Thank you is not only for when you receive favour but is also used in the context of thank you for thinking me. Took a little while but she finally understood.

One take away I have from this lesson is , when using thank you just make sure the other person understands that you are thankful for them thinking of you. And not just because they’ve done you a favor. Haha Also state clearly,  in full sentences that in my case I should have “ No. I don’t want it but thank you for offering” haha

3. Washroom / W.C. / Bathroom / Loo

Whatever standard word you use for the bathroom in your country. This one is crucial! Make sure you also know how to say in the language of the country you will be visiting. You do not want to not know how to say bathroom when you have that last minute full bladder or, you know, number 2 issues.

I actually do have a fun story involving my family members on our China trip . But I will save that story for another occasion .

4.How much is it?

Money, money, money. We do travel on a budget so it is better to ask for the price before trying or accepting anything. I remember being in Los Angeles. Remember there are street performers in Hollywood boulevard? A friend of mine was so frustrated because she wanted a picture with a certain Spider-man. She posed and took the shot and only discovered later that picture would cost her 15USD. She was not happy about it ( although people got to make a living somehow) . Just be aware that you might be traveling but people who are around the streets might be trying to make a living and as long as you ask the price before you can always consult your wallet and budget before making any decisions you will regret later.

5. How do you say?

This one is probably not so mainstream for a lot of people. But I think it’s an important phrase to make your travels more memorable or enjoyable. For instance when you’re traveling around a place, let’s say Japan and you eat this marvelous dish you found on a random street corner restaurant. You will either want to have it again or want to try it again. Then you will have to ask How do you say.. Bla bla bla . You find out that that marvelous dish you just tried was actually Ramen! And voila! You can look for another ramen shop in your town or country when you go back! I am sure you will find tons of recipes on the internet too. Or you could also be like I don’t like this dish. I never want to try it again. How do you say… blah bla bla. And you will mark down that thing so you won’t have to experience the same disappointment again. 

Now the reason why I do not recommend apps or google for this is because, if you learn the proper accent and how natives pronounce something you will possibly be able to imitate that again in the future( usually it will stick to your mind). You can use it within your travels or if you have a friend who is traveling to the same place you would like to give them an idea of how to find something good that you have experienced. Sharing the location on google maps is one thing but let’s say your friend does not have access to that. How will they remember? How do you say bla bla might help the day.

6. Where is the ?

I guess this is a basic one and if you are a planner like I am you will like to use this phrase A LOT! This is a magical sentence that will fit into almost all the travel needs. You can fit in a restaurant name, transportation, hotel, store name, school, museum and the list is endless.
So just make sure you have it written down somewhere. If you end up remembering the sentence you will also be able to point at pictures maps and so on making your travel day less chaotic if you’re running on a tight schedule.

7. Numbers 1 to 5

It is very important to at least know how to say one to five in the native language and here’s why. You will have to communicate your will when ordering something at a restaurant or even to ask for that extra towel in the hotel you are staying. Don’t assume that everyone in the travel industry speaks English or your native language even when the institution advertises that it does. Trust me. Knowing at least numbers one through five in case of an emergency, will help you stay calm. I hope it won’t ever happen in your travels but it is good to be prepared in case of need. I recommend having them written in a notebook!

8. Do you speak ?

Sometimes when topics are sensitive or when you want to grab extra information it is very hard to just keep using body language or two separate languages to communicate in depth information. This is not the most important sentence to keep in mind but knowing it will come in quite handy when needed. ( I would only use it as a last resort, but that’s just me. You can do you) And who knows? If you use this phrase at a museum for instance, you might get lucky and be handed a leaflet or radio that communicates in a language that you understand better. This could lead to a better experience during your travels if you like in depth learning or would like to understand the culture better.

9. I understand. / I don’t understand

This is another good to have in your pocket phrase. When someone explains something to you something you might be able to let them know that you understood or not. 

This might come in handy when asking for directions , food menu explanations or even when asking for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to communicate that you don’t understand something when you really don’t. People are nicer than you think and more patient than we expect. If they have stopped to help you once, be thankful that they did and take the opportunity to make things clear and extract information that will help you experience your trip to the fullest!

10. What do you recommend?

This is one of my favourites that is why it was saved for the very last! If you made it here congrats! Since I started traveling alone with friends I had made a rule that changed my travels forever . and that golden rule was and still is… ask someone local for their recommendation. Locals have the best knowledge of the place you are visiting or what you might not want to miss out on! Ask anyone! Someone on the streets, staff of a restaurant, a friend, a friend of a friend ( who is still considered a friend) what they recommend that you do, checkout , eat , anything! Just make sure you will be able to spare enough time from your plans to get it done! Or if you have to give up something in your plans don’t worry!  I recommend you always follow through checking out a recommendation just because it’s thrilling and exciting! (Just make sure your source is trustworthy or that a couple of people recommend you to do the same activities. Unfortunately there are a ton of bad people there trying to scam travellers and that is not the thrilling experience we are looking for!)

opened notebook and silver pen on desk
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com


Thanks for reading through these recommendations ! What did you guys think? Did you find these essential travel phrases helpful or not? Would you like to have a sample of these in Japanese, English or Portuguese? I know I can help with that so I will be happy to type some phrases down if you like! 

If I did miss any words please let me know! I would like to know what others think is a must to know before I go on my next international trip as well!

Hope this was helpful and a fun read! Have  a great week and I will catch you all on the next post.
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