Essential Phrases and Expressions for Travelling Abroad

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Today, we’re delving into a topic that’s useful if you’re planning to embark on a journey to a foreign land – Essential Phrases and Expressions for Travelling Abroad.

Travelling abroad can be intimidating, especially when you’re visiting a country that speaks a language different from your own. While I always advise people to memorise basic words and phrases in the language of the country they’re visiting, sometimes, we just don’t have the time to learn all the basics of a completely new language.

For example, last November, I accepted, at the last minute, an invitation from my sister to accompany her on a business trip to Hong Kong, where Cantonese is the official language spoken by around 88.9% of the population. Because I said yes at the very last minute, I really didn’t have enough time to learn phrases beyond “hello” and “thank you” in Cantonese.

Fortunately, English is one of the two official languages there. So, when it came to ordering some delicious curry fish balls and pineapple buns in English, they understood me perfectly, and I managed to get some amazing Hong Kong street food in my belly!

In this episode of the My English Matters podcast, I thought it would be good to share with you some essential English phrases you should know when travelling, whether it’s to a country where English is the first language or where basic English is understood by the locals.

You can also listen to this episode on SpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Airport Essentials

The journey begins at the airport, which can often be a labyrinth of terminals and gates. Here are some phrases to help you navigate efficiently:

  • “Excuse me, where is the departure gate for [flight number]?”
  • “Where is the boarding gate for [flight number]?”
  • “How do I get to Terminal 1/2/3?”

Upon arrival, locating your baggage is crucial. Here are some phrases you can use if you need to ask airport staff where to claim your baggage:

  • “Excuse me, where can I collect my baggage?”
  • “Where do I claim my baggage?”

Navigating through customs and immigration:

  • “Excuse me, where are customs and immigration?”

If you need transportation to your hotel, try these phrases:

  • “Where is the taxi stand?”
  • “Excuse me, where is the bus stop?”
  • “Where is the train station?”

Hotel Check-In and Recommendations

When you arrive at your hotel, you can use these phrases:

  • “I have a reservation under [your name].”
  • “What time is check-in/check-out?”
  • “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”
  • “Is breakfast included?”
  • “Can I have a late check-out?”

Here are some phrases you can use if you’re seeking local recommendations:

  • “Are there any must-see places around here?”
  • “What are the popular attractions in this city?”
  • “Can you recommend a good local restaurant?”

Dining Etiquette

When dining out, express yourself with these phrases:

  • “A table for one/two/three, please.”
  • “May I see a menu, please?”
  • “What do you recommend?”
  • “Are there any vegetarian/vegan/halal options?”
  • “Water, please.”
  • “Tea, please.”
  • “I would like…” (you can point at the dish you would like to order on the menu.)
  • “Bill/check, please.”
  • “Do you accept credit cards?”

Show appreciation:

  • “The food was delicious! Compliments to the chef!”

Asking for Directions

Ask for directions confidently with these phrases:

  • “Can you tell me how to get to…?”
  • “Which way is…?”
  • “Is [tourist attraction] within walking distance from here?”
  • “Does this bus/train go to…?”
  • “How do I get to…?”
  • “Which way to…?”
  • “How far is it to get to…?”
  • “Do you have a map?”
  • “Where is the closest ATM/bank?”

Emergency Situations

Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances with these phrases:

  • “Help / I need help!”
  • “I need immediate assistance.”
  • “Call an ambulance.”
  • “Call the police.”
  • “Is there a police station around here?”
  • “Where is the nearest hospital/clinic/pharmacy?”
  • “I need a doctor!”
  • “I am allergic to (peanuts/shellfish/etc.)…”
  • “I’ve lost my passport. What should I do?”
  • “Someone stole my money.”
  • “Where is the (Malaysian/Philippine/Indonesian) Embassy?”

Remember, being prepared means knowing how to ask for help when it matters the most, so it’s always good to know these phrases when you’re travelling abroad. It’s not about expecting the worst; it’s about being ready for anything.

So, there you have it! Useful expressions for when you’re travelling. We hope you found this useful. If you’re travelling abroad anytime soon, happy travels! See you next time. 


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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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