Learn the basic phrases in the local language - trust me, it goes a long way. Many people will know exactly where you come from before you’ve even opened your mouth and from my travels i’ve come to find that If you are from an English speaking country you’re already at such a disadvantage / advantage depending on how you look at it.
Someone like me who loves languages it’s such a disadvantage because if they’re going to know a second language, chances are it’s going to be English and therefore they immediately try to accommodate for you. Depending on where it is and how proficient my language skills are, normally results with me switching back to their local tongue to really push the fact that I know how to speak their language - otherwise I would never have the chance to practise.
Here’s a classic example on how to transition back to someones native tongue:
WAITER: “Bonjour Monsieur, vous allez bien?”
ME: “Ouais, je vais bien et vous?” (in my horrible English/French accent)
WAITER: “oh, are you English? What can I get for you Sir?”
ME: “Oui, je viens d’Angleterre… puis-je avoir un….”
As long as you’re trying most people will appreciate this and be more than happy to help you out
However obviously if you don’t speak a lot of their language then the fact that they speak English is a massive help. Remember to always to and say ‘Thank you’ etc in their local language - there is no excuse not to learn pleasantries!
I found this really good list of things you will benefit from knowing when travelling abroad.
Basic Phrases & Greetings
2) How are you? / What’s up?
3) I’m fine. And you?
5) Thank you. / Thank you very much.
6) You’re Welcome
7) Goodbye. / Bye. / See you soon.
9) Excuse me.
10) I’m sorry.
11) What’s your name?
12) I’m… / My name is… / I am called…
13) Nice to meet you.
14) Where are you from?
15) I’m from…
16) I’d like to introduce my friend/wife/husband.
17) How old are you?
18) I’m… years old.
19) What do you do for a living?
20) I’m a/an…
21) What do you do for fun? / What are your hobbies?
22) I (don’t) like…
Language & Communication
25) Do you speak…?
26) I (don’t) understand.
27) I speak a little…
28) I (don’t) speak…
29) Could you please speak a little slower?
30) Could you write that down?
31) Could you repeat that?
32) How do you say…?
33) What does… mean?
34) What time is it?
35) It’s (five) o’clock.
Shopping & Money
36) How much?
37) I would like…
38) Can I pay by credit card/debit card?
39) Here you go.
40) Could I see this/that one?
41) What time do you open/close?
42) Do you have this in small/large/medium?
43) Do you have anything cheaper?
44) It’s too expensive.
45) I’ll give you… for it.
46) Where can I exchange money?
47) How much for a first class/second class/economy ticket to…?
48) A one-way/return ticket to… please.
49) Here’s my passport.
50) What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry from… arrive?
51) What time does the bus/train/plane/ferry to… depart?
52) Which platform/gate/terminal?
53) Is the bus/train/plane direct?
54) Do I have to change buses/trains?
55) Do I need a seat reservation?
56) Is this seat taken?
57) When is the next train/bus/minibus/ferry to…?
58) Could you call me a taxi?
59) I’d like to go to…
60) Could you let me know when to get off?
61) Where could I rent a bike/car?
62) I’d like to rent a bike/car.
Eating & Drinking
63) Could you recommend a good restaurant?
64) What would you recommend?
65) What are some local specialties?
66) What is the special of the day?
67) Could I see the menu, please?
68) A beer/coffee/tea, please.
69) Could I get the bill, please. / The check, please.
70) I’m allergic to…
71) That was delicious!
72) This isn’t what I ordered.
73) Can I buy you a drink?
74) Let’s have another!
75) How do I get to…?
76) It’s on the left/on the right/straight ahead/at the corner.
77) How far is…?
78) Where is the closest bank/post office/exchange office?
79) Where can I find tourist information?
80) Do you have a map?
81) Can you show me that on the map?
82) Where is the (American) embassy/consulate?
83) What is the entrance fee?
84) What is that building?
85) What’s on at the cinema/theatre/opera tonight?
86) That’s a beautiful church/cathedral/building.
87) What is there to see around here?
88) I have a reservation.
89) Do you have any single/double rooms available?
90) Could I see the room?
91) I’d like to stay for… nights.
92) Is breakfast included?
93) The TV/air conditioner/lamp in my room doesn’t work.
94) Could I get a different room?
95) Is there a restaurant here?
Health & Emergencies
97) I need a doctor/dentist/police officer.
98) Is there pharmacy nearby?
99) Can I use your phone?
100) Call the police/ambulance!
101) Leave me alone!