Travelling to Europe? 10 handy phrases in 11 European languages especially for solo female travellers
If you’re travelling to Europe, there are at least 5 words you should learn to say before you go. If you’re a female planning to travel solo, explore alone during free time on an escorted group tour or river cruise, or you purely want to connect with the locals, you should try to learn how to say some phrases in the languages of the countries you plan to visit. I share 10 phrases in 11 European languages that may come in handy for solo female travellers.
This summer, I had the opportunity to take part in a free Italian beginners’ course provided by the Italian Tourism Board. I felt this would be a great refresher for me, as the Italian I learned at age 19-20 (a very long time ago) was a bit rusty (no, a lot rusty!). Since I’m planning a tour of Italy in the not-too-distant future, knowing a few phrases in the local lingo will not only help me ask for directions to places like the train station, bus stop or nearest tourist office, or how to ask for a coffee, tea, meal or the bill in a restaurant, but it will also help me connect and communicate with locals while exploring.
After completing the course, I was inspired to curate and share 10 handy phrases in 11 European languages, especially for solo female travellers, that you can try to learn before heading across the pond.
OK…so you probably won’t need ALL 10 phrases in ALL 11 languages, but on a trip to Switzerland, for example, you could encounter three languages, French, German and Italian (there is a fourth, Romansh, but it’s not as common). Knowing a few phrases in these three languages could come in very handy especially if you’re a female travelling solo and / or plan to do the Grand Tour.
On a river cruise, road-trip or rail journey through Europe, you could encounter several more different European languages, so knowing a few phrases in the language of each country you plan to visit could be useful. If you’re exploring alone, and particularly if you’re a female solo traveller, you never know when you may need directions back to the cruise ship, train station or where you parked your car.
Why should you learn the local lingo when travelling to Europe?
When travelling to Europe, or anywhere in the world for that matter, it’s a good idea to know a few phrases in the local lingo, especially if you’re a solo female traveller. But since many people in Europe know and speak English quite fluently, you’re probably wondering why you should bother learning the local lingo. Because, you never know when you may need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English, plus it’s a great way to connect with the locals.
When you’re visiting another country that speaks a foreign language, it’s always a good to know a bit of the local lingo. Here are four reasons why:
- Asking for directions: If you’re exploring alone, particularly if you’re female, knowing a few phrases in the local lingo will come in very handy if you get lost and need directions back to the cruise ship, train station, or your hotel. Even knowing how to ask where the nearest restaurant, café, museum or bus stop could be handy.
- Ordering Food or Drinks: If you’re touring off-the-beaten-path, you may meet people who don’t know English as well as you’d like. Knowing a few phrases to help you order a coffee/tea, a meal or ask for the bill, or even showing appreciation for the meal and/or service, will also come in handy.
- Purchasing Tickets or Seat Reservations: While English is widely spoken at large train stations, if you’re travelling on the rural routes and need to purchase a ticket or seat reservation to get where you’re going, knowing how to ask for what you need will come in very handy.
- Connecting with Locals: If you’d like a more authentic experience on your vacation in Europe, knowing a few phrases in the local lingo will help you connect and communicate with locals who in turn may share insights into their local culture and / or hidden gems for you to visit. Even if your pronunciation is not great, they’ll appreciate the effort in trying to speak in their language.
A few words you should know before you go
While it’s true many people you’re likely to meet while travelling in Europe may understand English and/or be able to answer questions you ask in English, just knowing a few words, will go a long way in showing the locals that you’ve taken the time to try and learn their language
At the very least, I believe you should know how to say “Hello“, “Excuse Me“, “Please“, “Thank You“, and “Goodbye” in the language(s) of the destination(s) you plan to visit. Even if you do not pronounce the words properly or the grammar isn’t correct, the locals will really appreciate your effort trying to learn their lingo.
A few other words that could be handy to learn to say, especially if you’re a female solo traveller, are: “Hotel“, “Station“, “Tourist Office“, “Ticket“, “Reservation“, “Coffee“, “Tea“, “Wine“, “Juice“, “Beer” and “Bill“.
Of course, it’s only my opinion, and it’s entirely up to you how many words or phrases you try to learn, but if you’re interested, under the pics below I’ve hidden the 10 handy phrases I think you should try to learn to say before travelling to Europe. In the first box you’ll see the English phrases, followed by 11 translations in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian. These are some of the languages you may encounter on a river cruise or if travelling by road or rail through Europe. These 10 phrases will definitely help you connect and communicate with locals, but they could also help you in many situations where you need to find your way, make a purchase or show your appreciation. When travelling solo, that’s definitely a plus in my book.
Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the pronunciations for most of these European languages (except maybe French, German, Spanish or Italian – but as I said they’re a bit rusty) so I recommend you visit Google Translate and paste the English phrases into the translation box and click the “sound” icon to listen.
Hover over each photo to reveal the 10 handy phrases in each European language
(Full disclaimer: Although I have learned four of the above languages, it was a long time ago, so I have used Google translate for speed. They may not be entirely correct, but they should get you by. The locals will definitely appreciate your effort!)