4 Words Every Traveller Should Know, No Matter Where You Go

Taj Bates

Travel is all about making connections. Connections to the past, with other cultures and, most importantly, with people living different walks of life in unique corners of the world.

Podcast: 4 Words Every Traveller Should Know, in 8 Languages

A cornerstone of human connectivity is language. Our planet is home to nearly 7,000 languages. While there's no way you can ever hope to master them all...

As you journey from place to place, you should try to master a handful of words that are hugely beneficial when you're a stranger in a foreign land.

Locals are much more friendly, helpful and inviting when you make an effort to speak their language, even if all you know is just a word or two.

For when you do so, you are demonstrating that you are a traveler, not a tourist. You are a traveler who is respectful of other languages and cultures. Someone who is curious, intelligent and humble. A.k.a., someone they wouldn't mind spending a second, an hour, or a day with.

You will be amazed how much locals will open up when you make a linguistic effort. They'll help you with directions. They'll invite you over for dinner or tea. Some may even offer to take you to a sight or an experience not found in any guidebook.

So what are some of these magical words that open hearts and hearths?

Well, the top four are:

  • hello
  • goodbye
  • thank you
  • sorry

Before or at the start of a trip, take a moment to memorize and practice the correct pronunciation of each of these words in the local tongue.

Here's a chart of the Top 4 words translated into 7 major travel languages: 

  Hello Goodbye



Bonjour (day)
Bonsoir (evening)

Au revoir Merci

Désolée (feminine)
désolé (masculine)



Adios Gracias Lo Siento 

Nǐ hǎo

Zàijiàn Xièxiè

Duì bu qǐ



Ciao Grazie Scusa
German Guten tag

Auf wiedersehen

Danke Es tut mir leid


Lā k̀xn





Güle güle Teşekkürler



Photo: Rod Waddington