Translating Abroad & 76 Important Phrases

by Josh Adventure
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Pseudo-sign language can be substantially more useful than attempting to use the fragments of a language you may be mispronouncing. Personally, I have a terrible memory for other languages and often rely on Google Translate and charades-style hand sign language to convey my intentions. I will essentially just pantomime the action or use metaphors. When asking for the bill, for example, pretend to write in the air with a pen. Situational awareness will also provide cues when interpreting what someone is saying or requesting. When in doubt, follow the crowd and do as they do. Though, it’s always polite to greet in the local language first before following it up with English.

Google Translate is amazing when it has an internet connection, but with its offline language packs, its translating abilities are substantially sub-par. They will get you by only in a pinch. With internet active, it has the benefit of being able to translate live voice conversations between two languages. It’s amazing, and I’ve had hour long conversations with locals using this. Remember to speak using simpler words that use fewer figures of speech. The camera feature in the app is laughable at best in its current iteration in 2019. Ideally, and maybe in the future, you’re supposed to be able to hold the camera up to text and it will translate using similar fonts and overlay on the display.

When all else fails, here are the most essentially crucial words and phrases every traveller must learn:


  • The numbers 1 through 10.
  • The numbers 20, 30, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 100 and other currency denominations or times.


  • Hello
  • Good Day / Evening
  • Goodbye


  • My Name is…
  • What is your name?
  • I am from…
  • Where are you from?


  • Thank You
  • You’re Welcome
  • I’m Sorry
  • Excuse Me
  • Please

Acquiring Information

  • Left & Right
  • Up & Down
  • Where is…?
  • How do I get to…?
  • Can you show me on a map?
  • How far is it to…?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is this?
  • What time is it?
  • Do you have…?
  • Can I have…?

Expressing Abilities or Preferences

  • Yes and No
  • I like…
  • I do not like…
  • I speak…
  • I do not speak…
  • Can I?
  • Am I allowed to?


  • Repeat, please.
  • I do not understand.
  • What does … mean?
  • Do you speak English?
Mekong Tien Gang Restaurant in Vietnam. English friendly!


  • I am allergic to… 
  • Menu, please.
  • Bill, please.


  • Hotel
  • Taxi
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Airport
  • Market
  • Restaurant


  • Help
  • Danger
  • Caution
  • Emergency
  • Fire
  • I need the police
  • I need a doctor

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