Essential Travelling Phrases in 3 Easy Steps (Spanish Edition)

[5 minute read]

Don’t be a donkey! Learn to speak some basics! (Salkantay Trek, Peru)


If you’re planning to travel in a foreign-language country any time soon then this article is for you.  I’ve used Spanish here but you can re-create the tables below with the language(s) of interest to you.

Step 1. Learn the following key phrases:

1 Where is…? / At what time is it? Dónde está…? / A qué hora es?
2 How much does it cost? / How much is it? Cuánto cuesta? / Cuánto es?
3 Thank you / You’re welcome Gracias / De nada
4 I would like this / that Me gustería esto / eso
5 The bill (at restaurant) La cuenta
6 Please / Yes / No Por favour / Sí / No
7 Hello / Goodbye Hola / Ciao or Adiós
8 How are you? / How’s it going? Como estás? / Qué tal?
9 I’m from Australia Soy de Australia
10 I’m going to… Voy a…
11 I don’t speak Spanish / Do you speak English? No hablo español / Hablas Ingles?
12 I’m sorry / Excuse me (to get attention) / Pardon me Lo siento / Disculpe / Perdón

Step 2. Learn these 3 key verbs and their 3 basic tenses:


English – Spanish

Present Tense


Past Tense


Future Tense
To be (PLACE – Position, Location, Actions, Conditions, Emotions)   Estar Estoy – I am

Estás – You are

Está – He/She/It is

Estamos – We are

Están – They are

Estuve – I was

Estuviste – You were

Estuvo – He/She/It was

Estuvimos – We were

Estuvieron – They were

Estaré – I will be

Estarás – You will be

Estará – He/She/It will be

Estaremos – We will be

Estarán – They will be

To be (DOCTOR – Descriptions, Occupations, Characteristics, Time, Origin, Relationship) Ser Soy – I am

Eres – You are

Es – He/She/It is

Somos – We are

Son – They are

Fui – I was

Fuiste – You were

Fue – He/She/It was

Fuimos – We were

Fueron – They were

Seré – I will be

Serás – You will be

Será – He/She/It will be

Seremos – We will be

Serán – They will be

To go – Ir Voy – I go, I am going

Vas – You are going

Va – He/She/It goes

Vamos – We are going

Van – They are going

Fui – I went

Fuiste – You went

Fue – He/She/It went

Fuimos – We went

Fueron – They went

Iré – I will go

Irás – You will go

Irá – He/She/It will go

Iremos – We will go

Irán – They will go

Step 3. Motivation is key!

But why should you even bother to learn all of the above?

Most people overseas can speak English, right?

Being able to speak even a smattering of a foreign language can do wonders for your overall travel experience.  You will get more smiles, positive responses, better deals, experiences, and respect from locals than you would otherwise.  This is a virtuous cycle which should enthuse you to learn more and more.  And with absolutely zero downside to knowing a foreign language – apart from having to exert a bit of mental effort – why not give it a go before your next trip?  You’ll be amazed at the doors it will unlock.

Further Recommendations:

So you’ve made it past the 3 steps and are keen to learn more of the language?  Fantastic!

Here are some more ideas and resources which have helped me (besides having conversations, which is the best way to learn!):

  • Duolingo (Excellent app; Requires Wi-Fi connection)
  • Dictionary (Preferably offline app or e-book)
  • Verb tables (Preferably offline app or e-book)
  • Songs (Sing along to your favourites by checking the lyrics)
  • Manual translations (Anything at all! Just pick a sentence and translate it to English)
  • Movies (Watch a foreign film with English subtitles)
  • Children’s novels (Pick one and attempt to read it – translate it on the fly as best you can)
  • Video games (Play it in the foreign language – it will force you to learn it)
  • Most importantly, adopt a mindset where you DO NOT FEAR making mistakes! Trust me, you will make many mistakes when first applying what you (assumed you) learned perfectly.

Buena suerte, amigos!

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