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Believe it or not, you don’t have to be fluent in a foreign language to travel to another country! If you don’t speak Spanish but your dream is to go to Spain, Mexico, Peru, or any other Spanish-speaking country, look no further. This guide includes many situations that travelers encounter such as taking public transport, checking into a hotel, shopping, and getting to know the locals.
The daily Spanish words here are the basics, but if you want to be even more prepared then check out the LingoDeer Travel Phrasebook on the LingoDeer app!
Spanish Phrases for Meeting and Greeting
When meeting someone for the first time in a Spanish speaking country, don’t be surprised if they kiss you! Women are greeted with air kisses on the cheek, and the number of kisses and which side of the face depends on the country. Men typically greet other men with a handshake but may kiss each other on the cheek if they are close friends. It is polite to greet and say goodbye to everyone individually.
When approaching someone it is polite to say hello before anything else.
For any time of day, you can say:
- Hello – Hola
- Good morning – Buenos días
- Good afternoon – Buenas tardes
- Good evening/night – Buenas noches
Spanish has two levels of formality. Usted is used with strangers and authority figures as a way to show respect, whereas tú is used amongst friends to show familiarity. When in doubt, use usted to be polite!
For example, to ask a stranger how they are, you would say:
- How are you? – ¿Cómo está usted?
To ask a friend or someone your age how they are, you can say:
- How are you? – ¿Como estás?
- What’s up? – ¿Qué tal?
Here are some potential responses that you can give when asked the same question:
- I am well – Estoy bien
- I am fine – Estoy normal
- I am bad – Estoy mal
Getting to Know Someone
When getting to know a stranger, you can say:
- Where are you from? – ¿De dónde es?
- What is your profession? – ¿Cuál es su profesión?
To ask a friend of a friend, say the following to be more informal:
- Where are you from? – ¿De donde eres?
- What is your profession? – ¿Cuál es tu profesión?
Always remember to say goodbye, whether it’s to a shopkeeper or new friends!
- Goodbye – Adiós
- Until later – Hasta luego
- Until tomorrow – Hasta mañana
- See you soon – Hasta pronto
- Bye – Chao
Spanish Phrases for Dating
When traveling you may come across someone you like. This would likely be an informal setting like at a café or bar, and someone close in age, so here are some ways to talk to a love interest using the informal tú form.
There are many ways to pay a compliment to a woman. Here are a few:
- You’re so pretty! – ¡Qué guapa eres!
- Are you single? – ¿Estás soltera?
- You are beautiful. – Eres hermosa.
- What a pretty name! – ¡Qué nombre tan bonito!
And men like compliments too! Here are some things to say to a man or a woman (they are gender neutral).
- I love your eyes – Me encantan tus ojos.
- I can’t take my eyes off of you – No puedo apartar la vista de ti
- I love talking to you – Me encanta hablar contigo.
When receiving a compliment from a special someone, say ¡gracias! (thank you!).
Asking Someone Out
From the subtle approach to the direct move, there is something for everyone. In Spain and Latin America, men traditionally make the first move and ask out the women. In modern times though, it is not uncalled for if the woman asks the man out. To make your interests known, you can say any of the following:
- Do you want to go out with me? – ¿Quieres salir conmigo?
- Can you give me your phone number? – ¿Me puedes dar tu número de teléfono?
- How can I contact you? – ¿Cómo puedo contactar contigo?
- Do you mind if I sit next to you? – ¿Te molesta si me siento a tu lado?
Spanish Phrases for Travelers Who Need Help
Spain has an advanced train system that allows you to easily go from Madrid to Seville without a car or plane ticket. Other countries have a metro in the city but rely on buses and cars exclusively for greater travel. To use public transportation, some useful questions and words are:
- What is the next stop? – ¿Cuál es la próxima parada
- What time does the train leave? – ¿A qué hora saldrá el tren?
- What stop can I transfer to line 2? – ¿En qué parada puedo hacer transbordo a la línea 2?
- I want to rent a bicycle. – Quiero alquilar una bicicleta.
- I want a taxi to… – Quiero un taxi a….
- Bus – El autobús
- Metro/subway – El metro
- Train – El tren
- Ticket – El boleto
Asking for Directions
Even with today’s technology like Google Maps and having a map in the train car on public transport, you can get lost and may need to ask for help or clarification. Some questions you can ask are:
- How long does it take to arrive to… ? – ¿Cuánto tardará en llegar a …?
- How can I get here? – ¿Cómo puedo llegar aquí?
- Where is…? – ¿Dónde está…?
- Airport – el aeropuerto
- Station – la estación
- Address – la dirección
Just as important as the questions are the answers. After all, you have to understand the answer in order to get to your destination! In a response, you may hear:
- To the north – al norte
- To the south – al sur
- To the east – al este
- To the west – al oeste
- Right – la derecha
- Left – la izquierda
- Close – cerca
- Far – lejos
Spanish Phrases for Shopping
Souvenirs are the best! Family and friends love to receive trinkets and as a bonus you can help the local economy.
Countries like Ecuador have open air markets where you can buy artisanal local products. The stalls are colorful and lined with shopkeepers beckoning you over to see their wares. Even though prices are cheaper than Europe or the United States, negotiating is often expected (so study your numbers!) and cash is king. They also have malls and other stores with set prices if you want a more familiar environment.
Here are some phrases to help you buy whatever you need.
- How much is it? – ¿Cuánto es?
- I want to buy… – Quiero comprar…
- Can I pay with credit card? – ¿Se puede usar tarjeta de crédito?
- I’ll take this. – Me llevo esto.
- Is there another size? – ¿Hay otro tamaño?
- Small – pequeño
- Medium – mediano
- Large – grande
- Is there another color? – ¿Hay otro color?
- Does it fit me well? – ¿Me queda bien?
- Can I try this on? – ¿Me puedo probar este?
- Where is the fitting room? – ¿Dónde está el probador?
- Very expensive. – carísimo
- I only have five dollars. – Solo tengo cinco dólares.
- There are quality problems. – Hay problemas de calidad.
- Is there another cheaper one? – ¿Hay otro más barato?
Spanish Phrases for Eating Out
Whether it’s a nice dine-in restaurant, a taco truck, or a friend’s house, knowing a few food words is handy! In Spain and Latin America, the largest and most important meal of the day is lunch. Workers often go home for a few hours to eat with family and have a rest called la siesta. Since lunch is served late by American standards, dinner is also served late and tends to be a smaller meal.
- Table for two. – Una mesa para dos
- Menu – El menú
- Waiter – el camarero
- Waitress – la camarera
- I want… – Quiero…
- Chicken – El pollo
- Salad – La ensalada
- Beer – La cerveza
- Wine – El vino
- Check please. – La cuenta por favor.
Eating as a Guest in a Home
Here are some phrases to get on the host’s good side and impress other guests with both your manners and your Spanish. If mamá is cooking be sure to compliment the food and say thank you!
- How delicious! – ¡Qué rico!
- How tasty! – ¡Qué sabroso!
- I (male) am full – Estoy lleno.
- I (female) am full – Estoy llena.
- Bon appetit – Buen provecho
- Cheers! – ¡Salud!
- It’s been a pleasure. – Ha sido un placer.
Spanish Phrases for the Hotel
After a long day of trekking across the city or getting off of a long flight, the last thing you want is a language barrier to stop you from checking into the hotel to rest. With these words it will be smooth sailing.
- I have a reservation – Tengo una reservación.
- Is there a room available? – ¿Hay habitación disponible?
- Is breakfast included? – ¿Está incluido el desayuno?
- What is the WiFi password? – ¿Cuál es la contraseña del wifi?
- Can you change the towels and sheets? – ¿Me pueden cambiar las toallas y las sábanas?
- Reception – la recepción
- Room key – la llave de habitación
- Single room – la habitación individual
- Double room – la habitación doble
Spanish Phrases for an Emergency while traveling
Latin America unfortunately has a reputation for being more dangerous than European countries. Please do not let this hold you back from experiencing the amazing and rich cultures of Mexico, Colombia, and other places south of Texas. As long as you take normal precautions and are smart you will have a fabulous time!
Hopefully you will never have to use these phrases when abroad, however, it is better to be safe than sorry. With this vocabulary you can feel safe and prepared in the event of an emergency.
If you remember anything from this emergency section, it should be this:
- Help me! – ¡Ayúdame!
These other phrases are useful and more related to details.
- I need to see a doctor – Necesito ir al médico.
- It hurts a lot – Me duele mucho.
- Call an ambulance! – ¡Llama una ambulancia!
- Fire! – ¡Fuego!
- Everyone out. – Todo el mundo fuera.
- Assault! – ¡Asalto!
- Robbers! – ¡Ladrones!
- Call the police – Llama la policía
- Emergency exit – Salida de emergencia
- Police station – Comisaría
- I do not know him – No lo conozco
- They stole from me – Me han robado
With this list of daily Spanish words and phrases you will not only survive in a Spanish speaking country for your travels, you will thrive and navigate the world with confidence! For more travel vocabulary and to learn Spanish check out the LingoDeer app and learn on the go.