Tuesday, April 6, 2010

3 Travel Tip Tuesday: En Espanol

Spanish is one of the world's most useful languages to know. For traveling, of course, but also for understanding awesome telenovelas. 

For the last five weeks we've been enrolled in Boston Center for Adult Education's "Spanish for Travelers" class. It's been a lot of fun--Professor Carlos has run through basics like how to order food, shop, and arrange transportation. He also gave us some more obscure vocabulary, discussed linguistic differences between Spanish-speaking countries, and answered lots and lots of questions. In honor of our graduation, here are some phrases we think are most key when traveling:

The first word we learn in any language is "thank you". Gracias will endear you to your hosts and generally get you everywhere.

If you're from the States, declare your nationality by saying soy estadounidense. It's more polite to say in Latin America than soy americano, where they consider themselves American as well. It's also a really, really fun word to say. 

The average person goes to the bathroom six times a day. Donde estan los banos? is pretty important for finding out where those bathrooms are. 

Going souvenir shopping? Camisetas is the word for T-shirts. It's also the same word for football (soccer) jerseys, so if you collect them like Patrick you want to know how to ask for them.

Get the price on that by asking Cuanto es? People are way less into price tags abroad and so we find ourselves asking this a lot. It's also the intro to the inevitable negotiating game.

Deseo una cerveza fria is how you order a cold beer. Make sure to include "fria" in there so you don't get a warm brew...we Americans tend to be a lot pickier about temperature than our neighbors down south or across the pond. But if you're getting a soft drink or cocktail, ask for it sin hielo if you are unsure about the tap water quality.

Tocineta. Because everything's better with bacon.

Excuse yourself with perdone. We are constantly apologizing for our poor language skills, interrupting people to ask directions, and generally making social gaffes.

After five weeks, Carlos approved of our new language skills and wished us a buen viaje (good trip). We feel much better equipped for our next trip to one of the 21 countries for which Spanish is the official language.

Do you learn some basic vocab before traveling abroad? What words do you find most important to know how to say?


  1. Thanks for stopping by! I love magnolia trees, my grandparents have a nice one in their front yard. Great post!

  2. Ha, I couldn't believe the video of la 'novela' Dame chocolate that is too funny. It's still being broadcast here in Croatia. I agree with all of your phrases, especially gracias, we Latinos tend to say it alot and for everything.

    When I moved to Croatia, I learned 'good day' DOBAR DAN< because part of my heritage is to always salute the other person by saying good morning or good afternoon, followed by how are you, KAKO STE? the formal way, or KAKO SI, informal when talking to people your age.

    I respect the fact that you take it upon yourself to learn the language/manners of the country you plan to visit.


  3. I think it is always good to know how to say "it is delicious" in another language. I went around Japan saying "Oishii Desu" everywhere I went.


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