You can jump to any section of this article:
- Booking a Holiday
- Travelling to Your Destination
- Arriving at Your Destination
- Places to Visit
- Describing Places
- Asking for Help
Whether you are going on a short holiday for a few days or planning to travel around various countries for a few months, having a basic understanding of the vocabulary and phrases you might need to use for communication is quite important.
English is a widely spoken language in the majority of countries that welcome tourism, so it would be beneficial to familiarise yourself with some useful phrases before departing.
In addition, if you could find out how to say some basic phrases in the country’s native language, I’m sure the local people there would appreciate your efforts!
Basic phrases in English that you should translate and try to use in the native language of your destination:
- Thank you
- Excuse me
Booking a Holiday
Book: as opposed to the noun (reading material), this verb means to arrange and confirm a place on a flight, a room in a hotel or a ticket for an event in the future.
Depart: to go away or leave, especially on a journey.
Arrive: to reach a place, especially at the end of a journey.
Reservation: an arrangement in which something like a seat on a plane or a table in a restaurant is kept for you.
Destination: the place where someone is going, or something is being sent or taken.
Complimentary: if tickets books or any other items are complimentary, it means they are given free, especially by a business.
All-Inclusive: Including everyone or everything. In holiday terms, this would refer to a hotel deal where the price usually includes accommodation, meals and drinks (any extra activities or facilities would be charged separately).
Travel Agency: a company or shop that makes travel arrangements for people.
Ticket: a small piece of paper or card given to someone, usually to show that they have paid for an event, journey or activity.
Brochure: a type of small magazine that contains pictures and information about a product or a company.
Leaflet: a small piece of paper that gives you information or advertises something.
Last Minute Deals: these are promotions that are advertised at the latest possible time for those who are more spontaneous!
Promotion: publicising a product to increase sales or public awareness.
Package Deal: an offer or agreement involving a number of related items or the acceptance of one being dependent on acceptance of another.
Half-Board: if you request ‘half-board’ at a hotel, breakfast and dinner would be included in the hotel price (as part of the package).
Full-Board: if you request ‘full-board’ at a hotel, that would include all three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in the price of your accommodation.
Self-Catering: if you stay in self-catering accommodation, you would be in a place where you are provided with the facilities to prepare and cook your own meals.
Accommodation: a room or building in which someone may live or stay. Different types of accommodation include apartments, hotels, guesthouses and backpacking hostels.
Vacation: the American term for ‘holiday’.
Camping: the activity of spending a holiday (vacation) living in a tent or campervan.
Backpacking: to travel or hike carrying one’s belongings in a backpack.
Transfer: the act of moving someone or something from one place to another.
Budget Holiday: (adjective) meaning inexpensive. Planning a trip using a minimal amount of money. (Budget – noun) Having a limited amount of money for expenditure:
- ‘We have to keep within the household budget).
Travel Documents: all the necessary documents you would need to take with you on a holiday i.e. passport or ID card, driving license, flight/bus/ train tickets, visa confirmation etc.
Outbound: travelling away from a particular place, usually the first half of a journey.
Inbound: travelling towards a particular place, especially when returning to the original point of departure.
Two-way, Return Ticket (UK), Round Trip (US): a ticket that allows someone to travel to a place and back again.
One-way, Single Ticket: a ticket that allows a passenger to travel only to his/her destination, without returning.
Transport: (verb trans-PORT) to take or carry goods or people from one place to another. (noun TRANS-port) A system or means of conveying people or goods from place to place by means of a vehicle, aircraft or ship.
Splash out: a phrasal verb (mainly used in British English) meaning to spend money freely
Sample Conversation about Booking a Holiday:
Travel Agent = TA, Customer = C
TA: Good afternoon madam, how can I help you today?
C: Good afternoon, I would like to book a trip to Italy for 2 people and a 6 year old child please.
TA: Is there anywhere in particular you would like to go?
C: I can’t decide between Venice or Rome, whichever is cheaper as we’re on a budget this year!
TA: Okay, and when would you like to go?
C: We have two weeks of holiday between 18th June and 2nd July, and we’d like to go for at least 10 days during that period.
TA: No problem, I’ll just check to see which destination would be cheaper…. We have a special promotion on at the moment, if you book a package deal to Venice, you get free transfer to and from your hotel to the airport, plus one free meal each day. Would you be interested in that?
C: Yes, that sounds great!
TA: And would you like full-board or half-board?
C: Well, seeing as we will get one free meal each anyway, I think self-catering would be better. I’ll have a little bit of extra money to splash out in a nice restaurant somewhere!
TA: Okay, that’s fine. We have a hotel that offers self-catering facilities and is right in the centre of Rome. They also have special facilities for children such as meal deals, extra beds, a play area in the lobby and a crèche.
C: Perfect! I won’t need to spend too much money on transport and our son will surely have fun too!
TA: Exactly. Your outbound flight will be on the 19th June, departing from London Gatwick Airport at 11:30am, and your return flight will be on the 30th June at 10:30pm. That gives you 11 and a half days in Rome, does that suit you?
C: Yes, that’s excellent, and we’ll still have a couple of days to recover before going back to work! How much will that be?
TA: Well, the promotion is £200 per adult, and your child can go for free because he is under 8 years old. That includes the return flights, accommodation for 11 nights, airport transfer and a complimentary meal each per day. Shall we go ahead and book it?
C: Wow, that is a fabulous deal! Yes please.
TA: Okay. How would you like to pay?
C: Credit card please. Here you go.
TA: Thank you. Could I also see your passports please?
C: Sure, here you go.
TA: Thank you. Here are your tickets and everything else you’ll need to know about your package holiday. Remember to keep all your travel documents safe throughout the whole trip.
C: Thank you so much for your help!
TA: You’re welcome. Enjoy the rest of your day and please contact us if you have any queries before you set off on your holiday!
Suitcase: a case with a handle and hinged lid, used for carrying clothes and other personal possessions.
Backpack (US), Rucksack (UK): a bag with shoulder straps that allow it to be carried on one’s back.
Currency: a system of money in general use in a particular country.
Appropriate Clothing: suitable or fitting for a particular purpose, person or occasion.
Seasonal: relating to a particular season of the year (Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer).
Swimwear, Bikini: clothing worn for swimming (bikinis are specifically for women).
Fanny Pack (US), Bum Bag (UK): a small bag used to safely store small valuable items when on holiday. This is usually worn around the waist and can be concealed under one’s clothing.
Sample Conversation about Packing:
A: Sarah, I’ve managed to book the flights and the train tickets for our vacation to Switzerland!
B: Wow, that’s so exciting! So, are we leaving next month on the date we wanted?
A: No, we’re leaving next week! The travel agency gave us a great package deal and we’ve saved a lot of money, but it meant changing the dates to go earlier. We don’t have to work anyway, so I thought it would be nice!
B: Oh, I see! Okay, that means we’ll have to start packing very soon. What will the weather be like?
A: Well, it’ll be spring but we’re going for 3 weeks, so I would say it’s safer to take clothing for hot and cold weather. We’ll probably go skiing too, so let’s pack our snow gear.
B: Sure. I’m going to pack a few bikinis too, just in case we find a small beach!
A: It might be easier to take our backpacks, as we can fit more into them.
B: I agree, they’re a lot bigger than the suitcases. Have you got all our travel documents together?
A: I just need to print off the flight confirmation details and the train tickets.
B: Great. I’ll get some dollars exchanged to Swiss franc for the first few days.
A: Okay, so you’re in charge of getting the currency sorted and I’ll keep all the travel documents together. Now, let’s start packing!
Travelling to Your Destination
Check-In: the act of reporting one’s presence and registering, typically at an airport or hotel.
Departure Gate: gate where passengers embark.
Airport Terminal: this is a building at an airport, where passengers transfer between ground transportation and the facilities that allow them to board or disembark from an aircraft.
Departure Lounge: a seating area in an airport where passengers wait to board an aircraft or vehicle.
Duty-Free: Items available for purchase that are free of duty or tax charges in a particular country, generally sold at airports.
Ferry: a boat or ship for conveying passengers or goods, especially over a relatively short distance and as a regular service.
Take Off: (of an aircraft or bird) becoming airborne.
Board: to get on or into (a ship, aircraft or other vehicle).
Passport Check, Security Checkpoint: a barrier or manned entrance typically at a border of a country where travellers are subject to security checks.
Overweight: baggage weighing in excess of the allowed amount.
Destination: the place to which someone or something is going or being sent.
Window Seat: a seat positioned next to a window on a large vehicle or aircraft.
Aisle Seat: a seat positioned beside the walkway on a large vehicle or aircraft.
Sample Conversation about Checking-in at the Airport:
Airport Attendant = AA, Passenger = P
AA: Next please!
P: Hi. Good Afternoon.
AA: Good Afternoon sir. May I see your passport please?
P: Yes, here you go.
AA: Thank you. Please place your luggage on the belt.
P: (Places suitcase on the conveyor belt)
AA: I’m afraid this suitcase is 7kg overweight. You are allowed a maximum of 30kg and this suitcase weighs 37kg. You will need to remove some items or pay an additional fee for the extra weight.
P: Oh no! I see. Okay, I’m happy to pay the fee.
AA: Is this your bag sir?
P: Yes, of course it is.
AA: Did you pack it yourself?
AA: Were you given anything by someone else to take on the flight?
P: No, definitely not.
AA: Do you have any of the following items in your luggage? (points to images of dangerous objects)
P: No, I’m certain.
AA: Okay, that’ll be 56 euros for the overweight case please.
P: Okay, here is the right amount in cash. Also, could I please have a window seat?
AA: I’ll just see if there is one available…. Okay, you’ll be seated in 25A. Here is your passport and boarding pass, please keep all your documents safe. Enjoy your flight.
P: Thank you very much.
Arriving at Your Destination
Landing: an instance of coming or bringing something to land, either from the air or from water.
Customs: the place at a seaport, airport or frontier where officials check incoming goods, travellers or luggage.
Baggage Collection Point, Baggage Reclaim, Baggage Claim Area: an area where arriving passengers claim checked-in baggage after disembarking from an airline flight.
Nothing to Declare: exiting the airport at a gate where you state that you do not have any goods where duty is payable or that need checking whether entry into the country is permitted.
Credit Card: a small plastic card provided by a bank or company which gives you access to money that you will need to pay back within an agreed time limit.
Debit Card: a small plastic card provided by your bank which gives you access to money that you already have in your bank account.
Porter: a member of staff in a hotel who assists guests with carrying their luggage.
Alarm: something to help you wake up at an appropriate time, this could be a sound notification on your smartphone or a telephone call from staff if you are staying in a hotel.
Room Service: requesting food, drinks or other services to be delivered to your hotel room.
Sample Conversation about Checking-in at the Hotel:
Hotel Receptionist = HR, Guest = G, Porter = P
P: Good morning Sir, welcome to The Royal Pavilion Hotel. May I take your bags please?
G: Oh, that’s very kind of you! Thank you. I am quite tired after that journey.
P: Please follow me this way to the check-in desk.
HR: Good morning Sir, do you have a reservation?
G: Yes, I booked online.
HR: Which name was it booked in?
G: Mr. Graham Watts
HR: Yes, I have it here. Could I see the credit card you paid with please?
G: Yes, here you go.
HR: Thank you. Would you like an alarm call to wake you up?
G: Yes please. If you could call me around 11am, that’d be great. I would like to rest for a few hours before my meeting.
HR: No problem. The complimentary breakfast is served until 11:30 and you can call for room service at anytime.
G: I will most probably do that! Thanks.
HR: Your room is number 237 on the third floor and here’s the key. Our porter will help you with your bags and show you to your room.
G: That’s wonderful, thank you. Is there a Wi-Fi connection available in my room?
HR: Yes, you’ll find the password in you room beside the TV. We hope you enjoy your stay with us.
P: Okay Mr. Watts, if you please come this way, I’ll show you to your room…
- Rock Climbing
Places to Visit
- Amusement Park
- Art Gallery
- Water Park
- Miniature Golf, Crazy Golf
- Animal Sanctuary
- National Park
Asking for Help
Catching someone’s attention:
- Excuse me, could I ask you a quick question please?
- Excuse me, sorry to bother you but could you help me please?
- Hello sir/miss, …
- Sorry sir/miss, …
- Excuse me, do you speak English?
Asking for information:
- You wouldn’t happen to know where … is, would you?
- I’m trying to find the …
- I need to get to the …
- How can I get to the …?
- Do you know where the … is?
- Where is the nearest …?
- I’m a little lost, where is the …?
If you miss a flight, bus, transfer, train:
- It seems I have missed my … could you please book me onto the next available one?
- I’ve missed my … is there any way of getting a refund?
- I’ve missed my … could you please give me information about the next one?
- Could you please help me to rearrange my …?
When you’re feeling unwell:
- Excuse me, is there a first aid room here?
- I feel really unwell, is there someone who can help me?
- I’m suffering from … do you have medical staff here?
- Do you have a first aid kit I could use please?
- I’ve injured my … could you please help me?
If there is something wrong with your luggage:
- My suitcase has not arrived yet, where can I get it from?
- My luggage is missing, could you help me please?
- My rucksack has been damaged, what can I do about this?
- I cannot find my suitcase, where can I check please?
Asking someone to translate:
- Excuse me, do you speak English?
- Could you tell me what it says on that sign please?
- Could you translate this message for me please?
- Could you please ask this person to …?
Prepositions and giving directions:
- (Turn) Right
- (Turn) Left
- Straight On
- Opposite the …
- Next to the …
- Near the …
- The … is on your (right, left)
- Before, After the traffic lights
- Take the first, second, third exit at the roundabout