Travel English Phrases You’ll Need for Your Next Trip
English is essential for communication in most countries.
Wherever you are going, you need to have a good grasp of the basics of the language to get around and communicate at the airport, hotel and everywhere in between.
This post has dozens of travel English phrases to help you navigate any foreign country. Learn what they mean and how you can use them!
- At the Airport
- On the Airplane
- Arriving at Your Destination
- At Customs
- Riding Public Transportation
- At the Hotel
- At a Restaurant
- And One More Thing...
At the Airport
Excuse me, how do I… ?
If you are flying for the first time, you will need information on how to:
- Check in. When you check in, you are letting the airline know you have arrived. If the person you are talking to tells you to go to the check-in counter, you can follow up this question with “how do I get to the check-in counter?” to get directions. At the check-in counter, you present your ticket, a document that allows you to get your boarding pass. The boarding pass, in turn, will allow you to board (ride) your airplane.
- Board the airplane. If you are not sure about what you should do before you get on a plane and during your flight, you can ask the airline staff about this.
Where is the… ?
You will likely ask for general directions to one or more of the following:
- Information desk. As you can guess from the name, the information desk is where you can learn everything you need to know about getting around the airport. You can even ask for a map (a picture guide of the area) from them.
- Gate. A gate is where you will enter to get to the airplane. It is also the place where you wait before boarding your flight. The gate is usually written on your boarding pass.
- Restroom. A restroom is a place where you take care of personal business like combing your hair, washing your face or using the toilet. Depending on the country you are visiting, this room may also be called a bathroom, washroom, comfort room, loo or toilet.
- Charging station. If your phone has low or no battery, these places can get your device’s battery up to 100 percent again.
- Restaurant. If you feel hungry while waiting for your flight, you can visit a restaurant where you can eat in the meantime.
How do I get to… ?
Although they both seem to ask for directions, there is a slight difference between “where is the… ?” and “how do I get to… ?”
“Where is the… ?” will get you a general answer like “(The place you want to go to) is at Building A.”
Meanwhile, “how do I get to… ?” asks for specific directions, so the person you are talking to will reply with “From here, you turn left, and when you see this sign, turn right…” and so on.
What time is my flight?
Often, it may not be clear what time your specific flight is—in which case, this question will be useful.
What items am I allowed to bring on board?
Airlines usually have rules on what you can and cannot take into the airplane.
How much luggage am I allowed to carry on?
Your luggage includes all the bags you are bringing with you for the flight. Airlines often have limits on how much and how heavy your luggage should be.
Are meals included?
A meal is a collection of food served at one time. Not all airlines provide meals, so it may be good to ask if you will get these before you board.
On the Airplane
Excuse me, can you please help me put my luggage away?
Airplanes have baggage compartments or closed spaces above each of the seats. You can ask the flight attendant, an airplane employee in uniform who is usually female, to help you put your luggage in its compartment.
Can I please change my seat?
Once you get on the plane, you may want to change your seat because other seats are more comfortable, have a better view, etc.
How much does… cost?
You can ask about the cost of anything you want to buy like the following:
I would like… , please.
This phrase is the standard and polite way to ask for something that is usually free or something you do not have to pay for. For example, if you are thirsty, you might say “I would like a glass of water, please.”
Does my seat have… ?
For example, if you want a device to return your phone’s battery charge at or above acceptable levels, you can say “does my seat have a charging port?” And if you want to move the seat back so you can lie down, say “does my seat have a recline button?”
Excuse me, I need to…
There are a few things you can ask permission for on a plane. You can say “Excuse me, I need to…”
What time is it?
This is a standard question for figuring out what time of the day it is. It is useful when you are flying over different time zones and when the plane finally lands.
For more vocabulary and phrases related to air travel, take a look at this post—it’s aimed at flight attendants, but you’ll learn a thing or two as well!
Arriving at Your Destination
Once you are at your destination (the place you are visiting), some of the useful phrases you can use are the following.
Where is the… ?
How do I get to… ?
Just like at the airport when you first arrived, “Where is the… ?” and “How do I get to… ?” are useful phrases when you are at your destination.
Some of the places where you might need directions are:
- Baggage claim area. Remember when you checked in your luggage? This is the place where you claim or get it.
- Currency exchange. A currency exchange is a place where you take the money you use in your own country and get it changed to the money used at your destination.
- Bus stop. Finding a bus stop will be especially helpful if you want to find a cheap way to get around. Asking “where is this bus going?” can also help you know if you are riding the right bus.
- Taxi / Taxi stand. No bus? Take a taxi instead, which is also called a cab in some places. You can usually find a group of taxis at taxi stands.
- Hotel. Of course, you should provide the name of your specific hotel.
- Immigration or customs. Immigration or customs is the place where you have to explain why you came to a country and tell officers what your intentions are.
Sorry, I do not understand what you are saying.
This phrase will help native English speakers know English is not your first language. You can also say “I do not speak English very well” and ask them to “please speak slowly” if you are still having trouble.
I recommend that you prep before you go by studying authentic English media like movies and TV shows. These can help you prepare for real interactions in English.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
I have items to declare.
Aside from explaining why you are in a certain country, you also have to declare (make a formal or official statement on) the items that you may need to pay duties (taxes on items from another country) for.
If you do not have such items, you can simply say “I have nothing to declare.”
I have a connecting flight.
This is how you say you will board another plane to go somewhere else.
I am traveling for…
Depending on why you came to the country, you can say you are traveling for:
- Leisure. Say this if you are traveling because you are on vacation.
- Work. Say this if you are traveling because your company asked you to.
- Family. If you are traveling because you are visiting relatives, let the customs officer know.
I will be here for… days.
You will need to provide the number of days you will be staying in the country, like “I will be here for 90 days.”
If you have it, you can also show your visa, a document that proves you are allowed to enter the country for a certain purpose within a certain period.
I am staying at…
The customs officer may ask you where you will be sleeping. You can say “I am staying at (the name of your hotel)” or “I am staying at (the address of your family or friend in the country).”
Check out more airport vocabulary here.
Riding Public Transportation
Now that you have arrived, you need to know how to get around. Here are some useful phrases you can use whether you are riding a bus, train or any other form of public transportation.
Does this go to… ?
Before you get on a bus or train, ask whether it is going to the place you want to go. If the driver says no, you can ask “how do I get to… ?” and take note of the directions they give you.
How long does it take to get to… ?
Here, you are asking how many minutes, hours, etc. it will take for the vehicle to get to your destination.
How much is the fare?
The fare is the price of riding your public transport.
“Do you accept… ?”
End this question with a mode of payment, which includes cash and cards .
Excuse me, is this seat taken?
This phrase is useful if you see someone with an empty seat beside or near them, but you want to be 100% sure they do not have a companion.
I missed my stop. Can you please let me know when we are at the next one?
In an ideal world, traveling would go smoothly. But sometimes, things like not being able to get off at your stop happen! Luckily, you can use this phrase to get you out of a pickle (get you out of trouble).
At the Hotel
Of course, if you are staying with friends and family, you can skip this section. But if you will stay at a hotel, keep the following phrases in mind.
Greetings! I have a reservation under the name of…
End the phrase with your full name or the name you used to make your reservation.
When you get to your hotel, go to the front desk. It is easy to find because that is usually where you will first meet the hotel’s employees. Also, that is where the other guests will probably be!
You want to confirm that you have a reservation first—that is, proof that you have a room at the hotel where you are staying. Otherwise, you have to look for somewhere else to stay.
What is included in my reservation?
This question asks what services you have already paid for. Of course, there is your room, but you may also want to check for other things like breakfast, pool, spa, etc.
What time is check-in / check-out?
Since you will not be staying at the hotel all the time, you will want to know what time you can check in and check out.
Check in means the time you will be allowed to enter your room, while check out means the time you should leave your room.
Does the room have a… ?
You may also want to know about your room’s amenities (things to help make your stay more convenient and comfortable). For example:
- Bathroom / restroom. Again, the correct term for this place depends on where you are.
- Refrigerator / fridge. A refrigerator or “fridge” is a place to keep your food and drinks cold. Keep in mind that you may have to pay extra for any food or drinks you take out of hotel refrigerators.
- Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is simply a wireless internet connection. You should probably also ask for the Wi-Fi password. ( “What is the Wi-Fi password?” )
- Air conditioner. An air conditioner is a piece of equipment that cools a room.
How many beds are in the room?
This question will help you know if there is enough space to sleep for the number of people in your hotel room.
What floor am I on?
A floor in this situation refers to the level of the hotel.
If you are on a high floor (like the 30th, for example), you may want to use the elevator, the device that lifts and lowers you between floors of the hotel, to help you get to your room.
My room needs…
Most of the time, housekeeping (the people who clean the room) will make sure you have everything you need. Should they forget, you can say “My room needs…” and finish with:
- Towels. Towels are soft, thick materials you use to dry yourself after taking a bath.
- Toilet paper. Toilet paper are thin white sheets rolled up on tubes. They help you wipe yourself in the bathroom.
- Bedsheets. “Bedsheets” is a term that includes pillowcases, blankets and all the other pieces of cloth that cover your bed.
Could I please have room service ?
As a guest, you can request services by saying “Could I please have… ?” For example, you can request room service, where someone will come up to your room to deliver food, drinks and other things you may need.
Where is the best… around here and how do I get there?
Since the hotel employees are locals, they will probably know the area more than you do.
Before you check out of your hotel, you can use this phrase and replace “…” with:
- Grocery store. Grocery stores are places where you can buy most types of items.
- Hospital. If you or someone you are traveling with gets sick or injured, you need to know where to go.
- Bank. If you run out of money, you may need to go by a bank to get more.
- Restaurant. Make sure you ask for a restaurant that offers local cuisine or food.
At a Restaurant
A table for two, please.
The number indicates how many people will be eating with you at the restaurant. It does not have to be just two: it can be any number of people with and including you.
I would like to drink…
Finish this phrase with the name of the drink you want. Popular drinks are:
May I see a menu?
A menu will help you decide what you want to eat.
I would like to order, please.
Once you have decided what to eat and drink, raise your hand and wait for a waiter to come to your table. Then, say this phrase to indicate that you are ready to order or ask questions about the food.
Could you recommend any popular dishes?
This is a good question to ask if you are not sure what to order.
May I ask if you have dishes that are… ?
You may prefer certain foods to others for personal reasons. For example, you can finish the question with any of the following:
- Vegetarian / Vegan When you say that dishes are vegetarian, that means they are mostly made of plant-based ingredients. When you say they are vegan, it means they do not have any animal ingredients (even eggs or milk!) at all.
- Halal. If you are a Muslim, you want to make sure that what you eat does not go against the laws of your religion. You may need to explain what ingredients make a food halal or haram, though.
Can you tell me about any potential allergens in this dish?
Allergens are ingredients in your food that can cause you to have a negative reaction. It may be a good idea to ask about these before you order a dish. The last thing you want is to not enjoy your meal because you got sick!
Can I please have… ?
Fill in the blank with an item off of the menu or one of these items:
- Appetizer. An appetizer is a small dish you eat before the main course (meal).
- Soup. Soup is a common way to start meals.
- Salad. If it is too warm for soup, try a salad!
- Dessert. A dessert is a sweet dish you eat after the main course.
- A glass of water. If you are not interested in any particular drinks, a glass of water is always a good option.
- Extra sauce / salt / spice. If you think your dish could use a little more sauce, salt or spice, you can ask if you can have more.
Can I ask for a refill?
The word refill comes from the prefix re- (which usually means “to repeat”) and fill. If your glass of water is empty and you want more, you can ask for a refill so your empty glass will have water again.
May I have the bill?
The bill indicates how much you have to pay after you eat the meal. Make sure to ask for this. In some restaurants, the waiters will not bring it to your table unless you ask.
If you want more useful English phrases to use in restaurants, check out this post on ordering food in English.
Of course, your trip would not be complete without souvenirs or items you buy to remember the place you visited! To make the most of your visits to shops, here are a few phrases to keep on hand.
Excuse me, where can I find… ?
Finish the question with what you are looking for.
Excuse me, how much is this?
This is a standard phrase for asking the price or cost of items.
Do you offer discounts?
When you ask for discounts, you are asking if the item comes at a lower price. Usually, the discount is shown in percentages (%). For example, if an item is $10 and there is a 50% discount on it, the final price would be $5.
Do you have a sale?
Another way to save money is to watch out for sales or events when you can buy items for much lower than their original cost.
Does this come in a bigger / smaller size?
If you are buying clothes, you may not be able to find something that fits you. In that case, use this phrase to check if they have your size. You can also ask “can I try this on?” to make sure the piece of clothing really fits!
What is your return and exchange policy?
Sometimes, you end up buying an item that you do not like or has defects (something wrong with it). A return and exchange policy allows you to either return (give back) the item to the store or exchange (switch or change) it with a similar one.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Here, you are asking if they accept cash, cards or any other form of payment you have on hand.
Can you recommend something similar to this?
If you find something you like but not quite or you want more varieties (colors, sizes, etc.) of the same item, this is a good question to ask.
For more shopping vocabulary you should know, go here.
Aside from the stores, you also want to check the sights and sounds of your destination! For those, here are the phrases you can use.
Where is the visitor information center?
The visitor information center is where you can get everything you need to know about an area—maps, landmarks, restaurants, shops, etc.
Excuse me, can you tell me what attractions I should check out around here?
There may be so many attractions in the area, you will not know where to start. This question can help you make your itinerary or travel plans for the day.
Are there any guided tours for this area?
Then again, you may not need to explore the area on your own. With a tour guide, you can plan where you want to go, get information on each attraction and even some interesting tidbits (facts) about them!
Are there any rules and restrictions I should know?
As a visitor, the last thing you want is to get into trouble. You want to know what you should do (the rules) and what you should not do (the restrictions).
Can you take a photo of me in front of… ?
A trip is not complete without pictures you can post on social media! There are times when you may want to take pictures of yourself in front of a site and that is where this phrase comes in.
Are there any events or festivals around here?
If you want to enjoy the place the way the locals do, this is a question you should ask.
Even with careful planning, you may encounter some problems with your travels. Here are some phrases to help you out if something bad happens.
I have lost my…
End this phrase with any valuables (important items) you lose, such as:
- Passport. If you lost your passport, you need to find an embassy or state organization that represents your home country in the place you are visiting. To ask for directions to the embassy, say “where is the embassy for… ?” and end the question with your country’s name in English.
- Wallet. If someone stole your wallet or something else from you, you need to contact the local police, the organization responsible for dealing with crimes. In the United States, for example, you can call 911 on a phone.
- Way. When you say you have lost your way, you mean you are not sure where you are and where you should go. If you have a destination in mind, you can say “how do I get to… ?” and end the question with where you want to go.
If something bad is happening to you, calling out this word will get people’s attention and—hopefully—get you the help you need.
Sometimes, the people who come to help you may need more information about what you need help with. For example, you could say “I feel…”
- Dizzy / Faint. Dizzy or faint means your head feels light, as though it is being turned around and around.
- Sick. If you do not feel well in any way, you should say “I feel sick.”
If your body hurts, you can also say “I am in pain.”
With these travel English phrases, you should be able to get around most countries without much trouble.
Enjoy your trip!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.