15 Most Useful Spanish Phrases for Travelers

Traveling the world can be such an amazing experience. Once you see new sights and speak with new people you walk away with experiences you will never forget.

It’s fun, enlightening, and slightly addictive!

But what do you do when you want to visit a country that doesn’t speak English? My recommendation is that you learn at least the basic phrases to get by.

Best Spanish Phrases for Travel

Although basic English is usually spoken in many Spanish speaking countries. I have been to many restaurants, and spoken with many taxi drivers that don’t speak an ounce of English.

If you’re traveling to a Spanish speaking country, there are some key phrases you will want to learn.

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Fact of the matter is, it’s not practical to use google translate or carry a phrase book everywhere you go.

Besides, you will look like another typical tourist.

The 15 Most Useful Spanish Phrases for Travelers

Essential Spanish Phrases for Travel

Below you will find the most important Spanish words and phrases that you should freshen up on before traveling.  We have broken up the article into three sections:

  1. ​Spanish Phrases To Help You Get Around While Traveling
  2. Spanish Phrases to Use While Dining at a Restaurant
  3. Basic Spanish Words and Phrases to Memorize (Before Traveling)

These 15 simple phrases are easy to remember and will be helpful even after you finish your trip and are back on English soil.

Spanish Phrases To Help You Get Around While Traveling

Airport Spanish Phrases

When traveling, you’re probably going to need to stop and ask for directions every now and then, even in a popular tourist town.

Not everyone you meet will speak English so be prepared to ask your questions in Spanish.

Here’s a simple one to get you going...

1. Where is...

Asking questions in Spanish

A simple phrase like ¿dónde está…? comes in handy quite often.

This phrase asks the question, “Where is…?”

Naturally, you can add just about anything to this phrase which makes it the ideal starter sentence to have in your toolkit.

For instance, “¿Dónde está el restaurante?” asks, “Where is the restaurant?” This phrase is easy to remember and one that you can use almost anywhere.

Remember to use está and not estás. When you add the letter “S” it’s like you are asking them where they are personally (tú) and not where the actual place is that you are looking for.

2. Where Are the Restrooms?

important spanish phrases for travel

At some point, you’ll need to find a bathroom!

To ask someone where the public restrooms are, you can say, “¿Dónde están los baños públicos?”

Notice how this is plural. This is asking where the public bathrooms are.

3. When is the Flight?

When you arrive at an airport in a Spanish speaking country and need to ask about flight times, use the phrase, “¿Cuándo sale el vuelo?”

Spanish phrases for airports

It means, “When is the flight?” or could be interpreted as “when does the flight leave?”

Just do your best!

Even if your Spanish isn’t perfect, people will generally understand what you are trying to say.

4. How Much Does a Round-Trip Ticket Cost?

best spanish travel phrases

While you’re at the airport or a bus stop, you may need to ask about pricing for your tickets.

To ask how much a flight or bus ticket costs (round-trip) say, ¿Cuánto cuesta un boleto de ida y vuelta? This means, How much does a round-trip ticket cost?

If you are just interested in a one way ticket leave out the vuelta part. By just using “ida” you are signifying that you don’t need the return ticket.

5. Where is the Taxi Stop?

useful spanish phrases for travel

If you need to take a taxi to get somewhere and aren’t sure where you can get one, you can always use this following phrase, ¿Dónde está la parada de taxis?”

This asks the Spanish speaker where the nearest taxi stop is. “Parada” represents the English word "stop."

Thankfully, taxis can be found everywhere you look in Latin America and cost much less than what it would in the US or UK.​

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Spanish Phrases to Use at Restaurants

Spanish phrases for Restaurants

Eating out in a Spanish speaking country is generally a wonderful experience, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Depending on where you go, your server or bartender may be able to help you better if you understand a little Spanish. So here are some common phrases for dining out in countries where Spanish is spoken.

Why not try a few out the next time you go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant?

1. To Ask for A Table

Spanish Restaurant Phrases

When you first arrive at the restaurant, if you need a table say, “Quisiera una mesa, por favor.”

It’s a polite way to ask for a table.

“Quisiera” represents the words “I would like” in English.  

The less formal conjugation is "quiero" which can also be used.

2. To Ask What the Server Recommends

When it’s time to order use the phrase, “¿Qué me recomienda?”

This signifies, “What do you recommend?

Essential Spanish Phrases for Travel

It’s a common question when asking someone to point out a dish or beverage that they would recommend.

It’s also conversational and will invite a dialogue.

Just do your best and my guess is the server will be happy to play along with how little or how much you speak in the language.

This is great if you are dining alone and would like to get some practice with your Spanish!

3. To Ask for the Check/Bill

In Spanish, the bill at a restaurant is called, “la cuenta.” So, when you need to ask for the bill, just say, “Quisiera la cuenta, por favor.”

Or if you want to say it a little let formal, just say, “Quiero la cuenta, por favor.It’s not the formal usage of “quisiera,” but they will get the point anyways and I have found many people to use this informal tone in settings like restaurants.

4. To Ask to See the Menu

Spanish Travel Phrases

If you’re seated and haven’t gotten a chance to see the menu yet, just say “¿Puedo ver el menú?”

This means, “Can I see the menu?

“Puedo” represents the words can I in this phrase.

Puedo comes in handy quite often as I am always saying, “I can…” or “can I” when used in the form of a question like the phrase above.

5. To Inform Others You Don’t Speak Spanish Well

Truthfully, this may be one of the most important phrases you should learn!  (Don’t worry, everyone starts somewhere)

Whether in or out of a restaurant, it may come in handy.  If you are in a conversation and don’t understand what is being said, you can explain that by saying, No hablo español muy bien.”

This, of course, signifies that you don’t speak great Spanish.  By this point, it might not come as much of a surprise to the native speaker.

Spanish Phrases for Common Foods

Spanish phrases for Restaurants

Use the following Spanish words for common foods and drinks that you might order at a Spanish restaurant. These are very common so it’s important to take the time to learn these items.

  • El Desayuno - Breakfast
  • El Almuerzo - Lunch
  • La Cena - Dinner
  • El Agua - Water
  • Un Café - Coffee
  • La Sopa - Soup
  • La Ensalada - Salad
  • El Pollo - Chicken
  • La Carne - Meat
  • Vino Tinto - Red Wine
  • Vino Blanco - White Wine

As a matter of fact, you might need a little extra vino tinto to loosen you up and start speaking some Spanish with the natives!

Simple Spanish Words and Phrases to Memorize

Below you will find common, everyday words and phrases that you should learn before traveling to a Spanish speaking country.

Chances are, your probably somewhat familiar with a few of these from your high school Spanish class.

1. El Dinero

"El Dinero" means money. You should memorize this and learn what it sounds like as well.

Spanish phrases for Restaurants

It's always important to have plenty of dinero on hand before traveling.  

It's saved me from some precarious situations in different Latin speaking countries.

Quite often, Visa fees or entrance taxes end up being more expensive than you initially anticipate!​

2. ¿Cuánto cuesta? 

This simple questions asks, “How much does it cost?”   You’ll most certainly have a need for this phrase if you are out shopping or being offered something in a store or mall.

You can use this when asked to pay for something.

I currently live in Colombia and use this one daily with the many interactions I have with taxi drivers, store employees, and in restaurants with waiters and waitresses.

3. ¿Hablas inglés?

This phrase means, “Do you speak English?”

Hablas ingles?

When times get desperate, there may be times when you need to speak to someone who speaks English.

Use this phrase to help figure out who can communicate with you in English.

Beware! This one sets off the obvious tourist vibe right away.

4. ¿Me podría ayudar?

This simply means,” Can you help me?” As you can imagine, this one will come in handy an awful lot!

Make sure to have the Spanish word, "Ayudar" which means, "To Help" memorized before traveling.

If you ever run into trouble you can shout out, "Ayuda Me! Ayuda!"​  This will set off the alarm that you need help fast.

5. Permiso & Perdone

These two words mean “excuse me” and “pardon me,” respectively.

Spanish Traveling Phrases

I use both of these words often while living in a Spanish country.

If I am in a busy bus and I need to get by I say the word, “Permiso.”   This signifies, "I need to get through please."

Naturally, when I accidentally bump into someone I say, “Perdone.”  It's like saying, "Oops, my bad."

Wrapping It Up...

This list of the common Spanish phrases for travelers will go a long way toward making your trip more enjoyable and a heck of a lot less stressful.

Spanish Travel words

They are easy to memorize and you can keep them written down somewhere handy in case you don’t trust your memorization skills.

Read up on the customs in the countries you’re visiting.

Even if they are all Spanish speaking, you may notice some real differences in the way people behave and will expect you to behave as well.

Thankfully, for the most part, all people in Latin cultures are friendly towards tourists.

The important part is you make an attempt to speak Spanish. You don’t have to be perfect and more than likely your words will come with a strong gringo accent (confession, mine does).

Top Spanish Phrases for Travel

But that’s okay, they will likely understand you as long as you are trying.

If you run into a difficult situation, it’s ok to use Google Translate to get your point across. But that should only be used as a last resort!

Take a few minutes before you leave to practice learning these phrases and enjoy your time abroad!

Any other basic Spanish phrases for travelers that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Interested in Taking Your Spanish a Little More Serious?

​Sign up for our newsletter and get weekly videos, tips, and training's sent direct to your inbox.  We keep the material fresh and fun and guarantee you will improve each week.

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