Traveling to a country where English is not the official language can intimidate many tourists. A language barrier can often complicate what should be a relaxing experience. That is why it is best to prepare yourself with a few common words and phrases in your destination’s language to avoid travel language anxiety. And although most tourist-centric areas in Mexico will pose no problems for travelers, it’s still helpful to know some basic phrases to better connect and communicate with locals.
25% of Americans traveling abroad go to Mexico each year. Most of those visitors are not fluent in Spanish. If it is your first time traveling to Mexico and you only speak English, you’ll find that knowing a few critical sayings in Spanish can make your vacation much more enjoyable.
Along with learning some key phrases, visitors should also familiarize themselves with other cultural elements that differ from their home country. For instance, learn the current conversion rate for the Mexican Peso, research whether your phone service will cover usage in Mexico or if you’ll need a tourist sim card. Be aware of common scams, local laws, and current travel advisories.
Visiting Mexico doesn’t mean you need to learn the entirety of the Spanish language. You can choose to learn a selection of helpful words or a few essential phrases to help you get by when you encounter a situation where there is no shared language. We’ve broken down the most useful sayings you should consider learning in Spanish before your next Mexican vacation.
Learn Your Manners
Mexican locals are well used to tourists with little or no Spanish. While most tourist areas will cater to English speakers, a little bit of Spanish politeness goes a long way. Top friendly phrases are:
- Hello – Hola
- Goodbye – Adios
- Please – Por favor
- Thank you/no thank you – Gracias/ No, gracias
- Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto
- Excuse me – disculpe
Know How To Ask For Help
Whether you need help in an emergency or with something less vital, like directions, carrying luggage, or finding something in a store, knowing how to ask for help is important. The Spanish word for help is ayuda, but it is used differently in different situations.
- Can you help me? – ¿Me puede ayudar? Use this phrase for non-vital help requests.
- Help me! – ¡Ayúdeme! Use this in a dire or emergency situation.
Find Out The Essentials
While you should familiarize yourself with how to get around your destination and the location of important places, it is helpful to know how to ask for these places as well.
- Where is…? ¿Dónde está…? Airport/aeropuerto, pharmacy/farmacia, bathroom/baño, bank/banco, hospital/hospital, hotel/hotel
Know How To Order Your Favorites
You’ll likely find yourself eating out at restaurants. While many restaurants offer an English menu, you should learn how to order your favorite items in Spanish. It is also a good idea to know how to communicate any dining restrictions or allergies in Spanish too.
- I would like to order…. – Me gustaría… (common favorites are beer/cerveza, wine/vino, water/agua, coffee/café)
- I’m allergic – Soy alergica/alergico (common allergens are: dairy/lácteos, nuts/nueces, eggs/huevos, wheat/trigo, shellfish/mariscos)
- I don’t eat meat – No como carne
Basic Cost Question
You don’t want to find yourself alarmed at how much you’ve spent on vacation once you get home. It is wise to ask the price of items before you take out your wallet. It is especially important to determine taxi fare, the cost of tourist boats, and other negotiable or unmarked prices before agreeing to pay.
- How much does this cost? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
Bonus Phrases In Spanish
Perhaps it is most important to learn how to convey that you don’t speak Spanish. Asking someone if they speak English can open up the doors to better communication in certain situations.
- Do you speak English? ¿habla Inglés?
- I don’t speak Spanish – No hablo espanol
- I don’t understand – No entiendo
Additional Spanish Language Tools
There are many tools available to help you learn a new language. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel have become popular and entertaining ways to learn the basics of a foreign language. Google Translate is also a helpful way to navigate communication barriers. Finally, if learning a few simple things in Spanish is not your thing, try visiting a country where English is the primary language.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com