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A Quick Travel Phrase Tutorial: Guest Blogger

For June, our theme is wanderlust and we could think of no better person to wax poetic on foreign adventures than Kate Thorman, a professional travel writer. Kate’s impressive credentials include being an editor for Mr. & Mrs. Smith as well as the host/producer of the web-based travel and food program The Innocents Abroad. (In fact, she’s actually the cofounder of the show’s production company Abbott & West.) If you think you had the itch to explore before, we can guarantee that you’ll be ready to pull the trigger and book your next plane ticket after reading her travel-savvy posts this week. 


One of my most terrifying travel memories remains the moment, on the train from Paris to Köln, when I realized the only thing I could say in German was ‘auf Wiedersehen.’ ‘Good-bye’ is definitely the most useless travel word ever.

As soon as I met up with a friend in Berlin, I asked her how to say a phrase I’ve discovered to be one of the most important in my travels: ‘I don’t speak [insert language here].’ I even know two ways to say it in Turkish, just in case they don’t believe me the first time (which has happened before – in multiple languages).

It might sound ridiculous, but once you’re off the beaten tourist path, people will just repeat themselves louder and more slowly as the few words you’ve picked up suddenly escape you and you find yourself staring like an idiot.

To make sure you can at least somewhat effectively communicate wherever you might be jaunting off to next, here’s a quick little tutorial on some useful phrases in some of my favorite languages:


Note that Turkish is phonetic once you know how all the letters are pronounced.

Hello: Merhaba (MARE-ha-bah)

Thank you (less formal): Teşekkürler (the-SHEK-yer-lerr, where the ‘r’ at the end of the ‘yer’ is nearly silent)

I don’t speak Turkish: Türkçe yok (TOORK-chay yoke, where the double-o is more a pursed-lip sound – literally means ‘there is no Turkish’)

One, two, three, four, five: bir, iki, üç, dört, beş (beer, icky, ooj, dehrt, besh – possibly my favorite string of Turkish words) 


Hello: Bonjour (more or less bo-ZHUR, but the ‘bo’ sound is nasalized at the end, so you really only hear the ‘b’)

I don’t speak French: Je ne parle pas Français. (Zhe nhe parl pa frahn-SAY – if you want to be super French, leave out the ‘ne’)

Bathroom: Les toilettes (lay twa-LET)

I’d like a croissant, please: Un croissant, s’il vous plait. (Uhn kwa-SAHNT, see voo play.)


Hello: Hallo

Thank you: Danke (Dahn-keu)

I don’t speak German: Ich sprechen kein Deutsche (eek sprEKK-en kine DOY-tsch)

A beer, please: Ein bier, bitte (ine beer, bittah)


Hello: Hola (OH-la)

I don’t speak Spanish: No hablo Español (No AHB-low Ess-pan-YOL)

Bathroom: El baño (ell BAHN-yo)

I’ll have two pork tacos, please: Dos tacos carnitas, por favor (Dohs TAH-kohs car-NEE-tahs, pour fah-VORE)

Need inspiration for your next vacation? Here’s a look at our latest travel stories.

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  1. innocents-abroad reblogged this from birchbox and added:
    How to get by in a country where you don’t speak the language…
  2. mckenziemarston reblogged this from birchbox
  3. theleprechaun0808 reblogged this from birchbox
  4. wilddirt reblogged this from birchbox and added:
    Super helpful phrases. -AK
  5. raquel-fernandesm reblogged this from birchbox
  6. sfootey reblogged this from birchbox
  7. birchbox posted this