English for Travellers


Are you planning on taking a trip sometime soon? Well, it’s likely that you’ll use English during your travels. We know that it can be difficult to remember everything to get through. We’ve based this article on travelling to and English speaking country so you can seem like a natural communicator. Undoubtedly, you’ll have improved drastically through our language exchange, but maybe you still need a few prompts to douse your nerves of speaking in English.

There are a number of occurrences where you’ll need to be able to communicate what you want clearly. Here are some instances we’ve predicted for your trip and the English phrases that will get you through.

This part of the trip is always the most complicated and difficult for people who are non-natives or don’t consider themselves fluent. Of course, if you’re able to read this then you obviously have some amount of fluency to your speech and understanding so we’ve made sure that this will be of benefit.

The first thing is knowing what to ask for when you’re eating out. This is especially important if you have an intolerance or allergy to specific foods. You’ll likely know a lot about food vocabulary if you’re at an advanced enough level to read this article.

Make sure you ask the waitress or waiter “what’s in this dish?” That way you’ll get to know about the food before you order. It’s also a good idea to let your server know about any allergies (or dietary restrictions that you may have early on). The polite way to do this is to say “I just wanted to let you know that I have an allergy to lactose.” (Lactose is just an example and you should replace it with whichever is correct for you).

One of the great things about English speaking countries is that they usually have a key on menus that details allergy information for legal purposes. It looks a little something like this.

V = Vegetarian
Ve = Vegan

N = Contains Nuts
D = Contains Dairy
F = Contains Fish

Getting around a city or country can be difficult if you don’t know the language. Some cities are particularly tricky at first if you can’t make sense of the directions. It’s true that Google has made things easier with their maps and directions but there are parts of travel that you can’t find out online.

Take London for example, you can easily find your way around by using Google maps, but you won’t be able to order an oyster card or get a tram pass unless you speak to people.

You can ask the staff at the station Please, can I have an oyster card with £20 on it?” or “I’d like to buy a tram pass.”

Also, as a side note, you should know that falling ill on public transport is something taken very seriously. If you are feeling unwell and think you need urgent medical attention then say something to the nearest member of staff at a station. “I need help, I feel very ill,” is the best thing you can say to the staff at a station as it means they will take you very seriously.

  • OUT AND ABOUT When people visit other countries, they need to know very basic things that they may not know how to say politely in spite of their fluency. These can be very easy things for those of us who are native speakers but our sociological concept of “politeness” may not match the concept in the country to which we are travelling. One common example is needing to go to the bathroom. We have heard people say things like “I have to pee,” or “Bathroom, tell me!” Although these phrases might be considered normal in other countries, in English speaking countries, especially overly polite nations such as the UK or Canada, one may be given judgemental looks for using this type of vocabulary. Instead, you should say “Please, can you direct me to the nearest restroom.” Us Brits are prone to pussyfooting around sociologically “rude” or “taboo” phrases, meaning anything involving necessary bodily functions is out, unless in a medical capacity.

  • DEALING WITH PROBLEMS as much as we hope that you never need to use this section, the fact is things can, and often do, go wrong whilst travelling. This can be anything from needing medical attention, to losing a passport and even having to go to the police for assistance.“I’ve lost my passport, can you help me, please?” – We really hope that this isn’t a phrase you need to use during your travels, but if you do, then you should direct this to your nearest police station or consulate.“I need to see a doctor urgently!” – This is important for anyone who feels sick or like they need help fast. Work that word urgently in with the local doctor and you should get seen quickly.

Now you have some important phrases to help you on your travels. Make sure you stay safe and enjoy every moment of the trip. From all here at Studenz, have a wonderful time travelling.

written by Jordan Benyon: Staff Writer

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