Spanish Phrases for Travel
Vacation vocabulary Spanish and Spanish survival phrases
Most of us know the most basic Spanish phrases for travel: hola (hi), gracias (thanks), and, of course, dos cervezas (two beers), por favor (please). Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world and is an official language in more than 20 countries. Having a basic grasp of vacation vocabulary Spanish, therefore, is like having a key that unlocks a huge number of exciting, beautiful and unforgettable experiences.
I learned Spanish as a tourist in Bogotá, Colombia, and have lived ever since in el mundo hispanoparlante (the Spanish-speaking world). In my experience, the best motivator for learning a language is to have positive experiences using that language. My most unforgettable experiences as a tourist are those in which I spoke to local people. Here I present to you some of the most useful Spanish words for travel you may need as a tourist in one of these many countries – I hope they prove useful to you!
Imagine you are a tourist – you’ve got your map, camera, and sandals with socks. You’d love to find somewhere to eat, or perhaps a museum you’ve heard about, but you just can’t find it on your map. There are local people walking down the street next to you… so let’s ask them!
Learning and using Spanish survival phrases.
Español: Disculpe – tengo una pregunta. ¿Me puede ayudar?
English: Excuse me – I have a question. Could you help me?
This phrase is really useful if you want to get the attention of a stranger so that you can ask them a question. It is also slightly formal, so you can be comfortable using this to address anyone from someone walking on the street, to a bank teller, to the President of Mexico!
Español: Estoy buscando _____ – ¿dónde está?
English: I’m looking for ____ – where is it?
As tourists, we are typically searching for something (e.g. a restaurant, hotel, or tourist attraction) in an unfamiliar place. With this phrase, you can communicate to a Spanish speaker your desire to find the thing you are looking for. You may find that their rapid-fire directions in Spanish are overwhelming. If that’s the case, use body language, as it can be an effective tool to make sure you’re getting the gist of what they are saying.
Español: ¿Cuánto cuesta ____?
English: How much does ____ cost?
When you’re traveling, you almost certainly need to stick to some kind of budget. You can use this phrase to ask for the price of anything (a drink, entry to a tourist attraction, a room in an inn, etc.). You may need to throw an el or a la in there before the noun so that the phrase is easily understandable for Spanish speakers (e.g. “cuánto cuesta el helado”, or, “how much does the ice-cream cost?”). Don’t worry if you don’t know if it should be “el” or “la” – even if you make a mistake, you will still be understood!
Español: No entiendo. — OR — Entiendo.
English: I don’t understand — OR — I do understand.
One time in Colombia, a waiter came to ask us if everything was okay with our meals, and although I didn’t understand what he’d said, I smiled and said “no, no, gracias.” I felt pretty silly when the situation was explained to me! Although it can be scary when you are learning Spanish to admit that you didn’t understand something, it’s usually better to let them know that you are confused so that you don’t end up doing what I did!
Español: Me lo puede repetir, ¿por favor?
English: Can you repeat that, please?
This phrase is gold – even complex Spanish sentences can be understood if you are able to slow them down and hear them a couple of times. Don’t be afraid to use this phrase a lot, as it is very important that you understand what is going on around you!
Español: Muchas gracias por su ayuda.
English: Thank you very much for your help.
It’s always good to be appreciative of others’ time, even if they couldn’t give you a definitive answer. In addition, being polite and friendly can actually help you too – people will be more willing and happier to help you.
Prepared with these 6 short Spanish phrases for travel, you are now ready to visit many tourism gems and meet some unforgettable people. Set out on a hike to Machu Picchu, wander the gorgeous streets of Barcelona or Madrid, go dancing in Colombia, or find a shady palm tree on one of the innumerable Caribbean beaches. With Spanish as a key, all of this and more is possible! And if you like to learn more just start learning spanish with us online.