The first sentence I ever learned in Spanish was “me duele la cabeza porque he bebido demasiado.” This sentence has served lots of purpose over my life when entertainers at hotels bother me to play games or when I simply want to lay out. It’s always an accepted excuse. The meaning? “My head hurts because I drank too much!” Thanks to my cousin for teaching me that one!
Other than this helpful sentence here are some phrases that are helpful to know while traveling:
- Hola, Buenos Dias! ¿Cómo está? – Hi, good morning! How are you?
Bien – Good; Mal – Bad; Más o menos – Okay
- ¿Habla inglés? –Do you speak English?
No hablo Español – I don’t speak Spanish
Finding someone who speaks English (and there are many English speakers in these countries) will save you lots of time in trying to find what you are looking for.
- Yo quiero/ yo necesito un…. Taxi, hotel, internet/wifi etc. – I want/ I need a ….
Many of our verbs are similar or the same from English to Spanish so you can often get away with the Spanish “I want” or “I need” followed by the English verb and they will understand or “Entiende” en Espanol.
- ¿Dónde está? – Where is?
¿Dónde está el baño?” – Where is the bathroom?
Equally as important is – “No Papel de Bano” – there is no toilet paper
Much like the previous phrase, “where is?” in Spanish can often be followed by the English word. For example “where is the restaurant Senor Frogs?” – “Donde Esta el resaturante Senor Frogs?” or “where is the bank” – “Done esta un bank” works even though the translation for bank is “banco.” In most cases, they will understand what you are looking for when you use the English word.
- ¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much?
Muy caro – Too expensive
It’s important to know how to ask “how much?” before you get into a taxi, when you’re booking a hotel or when you are purchasing an item. Many Spanish speaking countries allow bartering while shopping so knowing how to say “that’s too expensive” is a key phrase to know as well. Taxis are also known for jacking up the price for tourists and may be more inclined to reduce the price if you know that it’s usually cheaper (if you’ve gone that route before), if you say that’s too expensive and if you speak in Spanish (at least in my experience).