Travel has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Where once we depended on travel agents and guidebooks, we now use the internet for everything regarding our trip – from booking plane tickets, to checking into hotel rooms, to finding the best place for that instagrammable cappuccino.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of learning some of the local language before you go. Research from the British Council suggests that being able to speak roughly 1,000 words of a foreign language can be enough to make you feel secure and confident. Yet for most people, just knowing some key phrases offers the opportunity to get more immersed in a different culture.

These phrases will usually cover the basics: helping you get out of difficulty, or to communicate the essentials to the locals. Even with the advent of the internet, learning these phrases is incredibly useful. In fact, the internet has made it much easier to do so. We learn the phrases through our smartphones, on apps, from blogs, even from our own personal tutors. We learn them at home, in planes, on trains, on boats; whenever and wherever is most convenient.

But what phrases matter most to travelers today? We were interested to find out, so asked the question to the keenest travelers we know – the community on Tandem.

The first thing we noticed from the results is that technology has changed the way we communicate abroad. Many phrasebook ‘classics’ have been rendered totally useless by our modern travel habits; we also have many new phrases to reflect our changed requirements.

In short – no-one who goes to Spain on their holidays needs to ask where the phone box is anymore!

With this in mind, we decided to use our community’s feedback to create a new “phrasebook” that compares the new and the old – the ultimate list for any 21st century traveler…

21st century phrases…

  • What’s the Wi-Fi code?
  • I have an online booking for a room tonight
  • Do you accept contactless?
  • Can I charge my phone here?
  • Are selfie sticks allowed here?
    Where can I top up my phone?
  • Do you sell USB cables?
  • Do you offer online discount?
  • I read your reviews online, and…

And the phrases that are best kept in the 90s…

  • Do you have any rooms available?
  • Do you accept traveler’s cheques?
  • Can I use the landline here?
  • I’d like to send a fax
  • Where can I get my photos developed?
  • Can you tell me the way to…?
  • Do you sell maps?
  • Could you take a photo of us?

There’s no doubt that today’s travelers have far greater access to technology – and it’s enhancing their experience abroad. Easy access to the local language can make all the difference between a good trip and a great trip.

And we look forward to finding out which phrases the next generation of travelers will be learning. 🙂

Which phrases do you learn before you travel? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.


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