You’ve booked your ticket.
Your bags are packed.
You can’t wait to begin your journey to a Spanish-speaking country.
Now there is a simple thing you can do that can have a BIG impact on your trip:
Learn some Spanish travel phrases!
Your trip will be so much more fun and meaningful if you can communicate with locals.
Below are the bare essentials, the most common survival Spanish travel phrases and words you will need on your trip.
56 Useful Spanish Travel Phrases Every Traveler Should Learn
Before you move beyond greetings, here is a tip for learning the words and phrases in this post: The best way to study them is to hear them in use.
And the best place to find authentic videos hand-picked for learning Spanish is FluentU!
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
Spanish-speaking countries are generally very polite and you must always be courteous and say “hello” and “how are you?”
Do not worry about making mistakes: Most people will try their utmost to understand you and to make sure you understand them. Just try your best and they will be happy to reciprocate.
Buenos días (BWAY-nos DEE-ahs) — Good morning
Buenas tardes (BWAY-nahs TAR-days) — Good afternoon
Buenas noches (BWAY-nahs NOH-chayss) — Good evening
Hola (OH-lah) — Hi
Use this greeting with people you know.
¿Cómo está? (COH-moh es-TAH) — How are you?
This is the polite version, to be used with people you do not know. To ask someone you know how they are doing, use ¿Cómo estás? (COH-moh es-TAHS), instead.
Bien, gracias (bee-AYN, GRAH-cee-ahs) — Good, thank you
This is the response to “how are you?” Use it if someone directs the question to you to show that you, too, are a polite person.
Por favor (por fah-VOHR) — Please
Gracias (GRAH-cee-ahs) — Thank you
Do not ever forget: These are two very important words in Spanish!
Mucho gusto (MOO-choh HOOS-toh) — Nice to meet you
Use this phrase when you are introduced to someone, and they will likely say it back to you.
¿Habla inglés? (AH-blah een-GLAYS?) — Do you speak English?
While it is never correct to assume that someone speaks English, you can ask if they do and they will appreciate that you asked in Spanish.
For even more useful Spanish greetings, check out the FluentU post on the topic.
Basic Spanish Travel Vocabulary for Many Uses
You can go far with some very easy-to-remember travel phrases and words.
You can always use “I want,” “I like” and “Do you have…?” and if you do not know the noun, you can simply point at the object.
Yo quiero, yo no quiero (yoh kee-AYR-oh, yoh noh kee-AYR-oh) — I want, I don’t want
Me gustaría (may goo-stah-REE-ah) — I would like (more polite)
¿Dónde está…? (DOHN-des-TAH…?) — Where is…?
Since donde ends in e and está starts with one, these two words flow into each other, almost like they were a single word.
¿Cuánto cuesta? (CWAHN-toh CWAYS-tah?) — How much does it cost?
¿Qué hora es? (kay OR-ah ess?) — What time is it?
¿Tiene…? (tee-AYN-ay…?) — Do you have…?
Yo tengo, yo no tengo (yoh TAYN-goh, yoh noh TAYN-goh) — I have, I don’t have
Yo entiendo, yo no entiendo (yoh ayn-tee-AYN-doh, yoh noh ayn-tee-AYN-doh) — I understand, I don’t understand
¿Entiende? (ayn-tee-AYN-day?) — Do you understand?
You can say a lot of things with very simple verbs.
I want a hotel, I want a taxi, I need pesos. Where is the train station? The bathroom? The airport? The fact of the matter is that you can say a lot using the verbs we introduced above.
It may not be the sophisticated way you speak in English, but you will be understood. For instance:
Yo quiero un boleto, un hotel, un taxi (yoh kee-AYR-oh oon boh-LAY-toh, oon oh-TAYL, oon tahk-SEE) — I want a ticket, a hotel, a taxi
Asking for Directions in Spanish
If you get a bit lost or unsure of how to get somewhere, you need some simple ways of finding how to find your way. “¿Dónde está?” is the simplest way of asking for directions. For example:
¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril? (DOHN-des-TAH la ays-ta-see-OHN day fay-roh-cahr–REEL) — Where is the bus train station?
¿Dónde hay un restaurante? (DOHN-day eye oon rays-toe-RAHN-tay?) — Where is a restaurant?
A few more locations you might need to ask directions to include:
Un tren (oon trayn) — A train
La calle… (lah CAH-yay…) — The street…
Un banco (oon BAHN-coh) — A bank
El baño (el BAN-yoh) — The bathroom
Here are a few other ways to ask for directions in Spanish:
Busco un hotel (BOO-scoh oon oh-TEL) — I’m looking for a hotel
Yo necesito… (yoh nay-say-SEE-toh…) — I need…
Yo necesito un hotel / un cuarto / un cuarto con baño (yoh nay-say-SEE-toh oon oh-TAYL, oon CWAR-toh, oon CWAR-toh cohn BAN-yoh) — I need a hotel / a room / a room with a bathroom
¿Dónde hay una casa de cambio? (DOHN-day eye OON-ah CAH-sah day CAHM-bee-oh?) — Where is the exchange?
¿Dónde está el banco? (DOHN-des-TAH ayl BAHN-coh?) — Where is the bank?
Dinero (dee-NAYR-oh) — Money
Once you have asked a question, someone will answer you in Spanish. Here are some simple directions that someone may give you in response. Listen for these key words:
A la derecha (a lah day-RAY-chah) — To the right
A la izquierda (ah lah eez-kee-AYR-dah) — To the left
Derecho (Day-RAY-choh) — Straight ahead
En la esquina (a lah ays-KEE-nah) — At the corner
A una cuadra, a dos, tres, cuatro cuadras (a oona CWAH-drah, a dohss, a trayss, CWAH-troh CWAH-drahs) — In one, two, three, four blocks
Spanish Travel Phrases for the Restaurant
Probably the most useful Spanish travel phrases you will need are the ones you would use in a restaurant.
Ask for anything by using quiero (kee-AYR-oh) or quisiera (kee-see-AYR-oh) — “I want” or “I would like.” And remember to say por favor and gracias!
Una mesa (oona MAY-sah) — A table
Una mesa para dos tres, cuatro (oona MAY-sah PAH-rah dohss, trays, CWAH-troh) — A table for two, three, four
Un menú (oon may-NOO) — A menu
Sopa (SOH-pah) — Soup
Ensalada (ayn-sah-LAH-dah) — Salad
Hamburguesa (ahm-boor-GAY-sah) — Hamburger
Con salsa de tomate, mostaza, tomate, lechuga (cohn SAHL-sah day toh-MAH-tay, mohs-TAH-sah, toh-MAH-tay, lay-CHOO-gah) — With ketchup, mustard, tomato, lettuce
Una entrada (oona ayn-TRAH-dah) — An appetizer
Un postre (oon PHOHS-tray) — Dessert
Una bebida (oona bay-BEE-dah) — A drink
Agua (AH-gwah) — Water
Vino tinto, vino blanco ((VEE-noh TEEN-toh, VEE-noh BLAHN-coh) — Red wine, white wine
Cerveza (sayr-VAY-sah) — Beer
Un café (oon cah-FAY) — Coffee
¡Señor! or ¡Señorita! (say-NYOR, say-nyor-EET-ah) — Calling a waiter or waitress
La cuenta (lah CWAYN-tah) — The check
Counting is good if you can spend a half hour or hour learning some basic numbers. It really is just some simple memorization and you can find numbers in any book on Spanish or use our guide to counting in Spanish.
But, if all else fails, pull out a pen and paper and write down the number you want and encourage the other person to do the same.
Credit cards. Many places in smaller towns still do not take credit cards so make sure you have enough cash with you. You can ask if you can use a credit card — una tarjeta de credito (oonah tar-HEY-tah day CRAY-dee-toh).
If you have questions, you can always use a noun with a question. For example, you can pull out your credit card and say: ¿Tarjeta de credito? They will understand.
An all-purpose word: No funciona (noh foonk-see-OH-nah) — It doesn’t work! You can use this for a million circumstances! Just point at the shower or whatever and say “¡No funciona!”
Practice saying everything aloud so that you will remember some of the phrases withoutlooking, and learn how to say these phrases relatively quickly and smoothly. Just hearing them spoken aloud will also help in your comprehension when people are speaking to you.
Take a small pocket dictionary with you. While you don’t want to try to look up verb declensions in the middle of talking with someone, you can look up nouns quickly.
Better yet, take a phrasebook. There are tons of incredible phrasebooks (some that are partially travel guides) offered by Lonely Planet which are perfect for traveling and pulling out at a moment’s notice. This way, if you ever forget one of your most important travel phrases, you’ll be able to remind yourself.
And if you find a regional Spanish phrasebook that focuses on your travel destination, you’ll find even more useful phrases that locals love to use.
Do you feel more prepared for your trip, now? Pack these Spanish travel phrases and words with the rest of your essentials and you will be sure to get the most from your vacation.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.