Spanish Phrases For Travel

…just enough to get you started…

Spanish is a difficult language. Just ask anyone who is trying to learn it.

I have been living in Mexico for a number of years; I still can’t speak Spanish to save my life!

I know three words: cervezas, tacos, and mamasitas. These three words can get you just about anywhere in Mexico –  and they’re all best in the plural! (NOTE: Switch out “mamasita” and replace it with “papasito” if you are a girl.)

However, if you want to be really Hollywood with your conversations (and converse in style), make sure you memorize some of the following Spanish phrases for travel.

Here are a few tips to accelerate the learning process:

  • Drink lots of cocktails and beer while you are practicing! Confidence is 50% of everything – not just when learning Spanish, but with life in general. A little “liquid courage”  will exponentially improve your Spanish speaking skills.
  • Practice a LOT!  Anything that you are good at, you were once bad at.  Think about walking.  You couldn’t do it when you were born,  but now it’s easy for you!  It was practice that made you better. It is the same with learning another language. Practice will make you better.
  • Work with native speakers. If you learn from a native, you can hear the subtle differences that you might otherwise miss.  Anything else would be like asking a dolphin to teach you how to run! Huh?
  • And a special thanks to my neighbor Candy for helping me with these translations – who is also a native speaker!

Good luck with the following travel phrases, and please let me know how you do during your vacation here!

Included Sections:

Riviera Maya Names and Nearby Attractions

If there is one area of pronunciation that I see badly butchered and battered by tourists, it is the names of the areas and attractions surrounding Playa Del Carmen. Moreover, even the name “Playa Del Carmen” gets killed in most conversations I hear.

In the following list, I am going to give you the name of all the major cities in the area. I’ve also included a few of the major attractions that are most often mispronounced. Believe me when I say that you will stand out like an expert if you can pronounce all of these places correctly. Moreover, the scammers here will be much less likely to try to take advantage of you – they will think you are not a tourist!

So, here it goes. If you remember one section of this entire page, try memorizing this section first.

Playa Del CarmenPlaya Del CarmenPLY a dale CAR men
PlayacarPlayacarply a CAR
Mayan RivieraRiviera MayaRIV ee air a Meye a
Quintana RooQuintana Rookin TAHN ah Roo
CenoteCenotesay NO tay
CancunCancunkahn KOON
Isla MujeresIsla MujeresIS la moo HAIR es
CozumelCozumelKAH zoo mel
TulumTulumtoo LOOM
AkumalAkumalah koo MAHL
Puerto MorelosPuerto MorelosPWEAR toe moe REH loas
Puerto AventurasPuerto AventurasPWEAR toe ah ben TOO rus
HolboxHolboxHOLE bosh
CobaCobaCOE ba
Chichen ItzaChichen ItzaCHEE chen EE tsa
Ek BalamEk Balamek ba LAHM
XcaretXcaretssh kah RET
XplorXplorex PLORE
Xel-HaXel-HaSSHELL hah
Rio SecretoRio SecretoREE oh seh CREH toe
StreetCalleKAH yay
12th StreetCalle DoceKAH yay DOE say
AvenueAvenidaah beh NEE duh
5th AvenueQuinta AvenidaKIN ta ah beh NEE duh


Being Polite / Starting a Conversation In Spanish

Politeness is a universally attractive quality that some of us have – and (unfortunately) some of us don’t.

Because of the slow pace of life here, and the fact that you are a tourist in a foreign country, a little bit of politeness goes a long way.

Please make sure that you are not shy about using the following travel phrases in Spanish!

Please🔈 Por favorpoar fa VOAR
HelloHolaOH la
Excuse mePerdonpear DOAN
GoodbyeAdiosah dee OAS
Good morningBuenos diasBWOY ness DEE us
Good afternoonBuenas tardesBWOY ness TAR days
Good nightBuenas noches (NOTE: DOES NOT MEAN "GOODBYE" LIKE IN ENGLISHBWOY ness NO chase
Thank youGraciasGRAH see iss
No thank youNo, graciasno, GRAH see iss
I like _____Me gusta _____mee GOO stuh _________
I don't like ______No me gusta ___no, mee GOO stuh _________
I'm readyEstoy listoeh STOY LIS toe
You are welcomeDe nadaday NAH duh
I understandYo entiendoyoe en tee EN doe
I don't understandYo no entiendoyoe no en tee EN doe
Do you understand?Tu entiendes?too en tee EN days
How are youComo estas?COE moe eh STAHS?
What is your name?Cuál es tu nombre?coe ALL es tu NOME bray?
My name is ___________Mi nombre es ______.MEE NOME bray es ______.
Do you speak english?Hablas ingles?HOB lus ing GLES?
It is nice to meet youMucho gustoMOO choe GOO stoe
Have a nice dayQue tengas buen día.kay tang gus bwoyn DEE a
See you next timeNos vemos después.noas BAY moas deh SPWAYS
See you tomorrowNos vemos mañana.noas BAY moas mon YAH na
See you laterNos vemos más tarde.noas BAY moas mahs TAR day


Numbers In Spanish

Doce?……Trece?……Catorce?” I asked myself as I nearly fell on my face trying to get out of bed this morning. “How many beers did I drink last night?

Somewhere along the line I lost track. It wasn’t a blackout – I just lost track.

Whether you are counting tequila shots, money, or the number of phone numbers that you received last night, knowing how to count numbers in Spanish will help you a lot during your trip.

Consequently, I included some numbers below. First learn how to say, “number,” and then start on the numbers 1-10. After you finish those, see if you can work your way up to 21!

NumberNumeralNEW mar uhl
OneUnoOO no
ForCuatroKWAH trow
FiveCincoSEEN koe
SevenSietesee EH tay
EightOchoOH choe
NineNuevenew AY vay
TenDiezDEE es
ElevenOnceOWN say
TwelveDoceDOE say
ThirteenTreceTRAY say
FourteenCatorcekuh TOR say
FifteenQuinceKIN say
SixteenDiecisesdee eh see SEYS
SeventeenDiesicietedee eh see see EH tay
EighteenDieciochodee eh see OH choe
NineteenDiecinuevedee eh see new AY vay
TwentyVeinteBEN tay
Twenty-oneVeinte unoBEN tay OO no


Money-related Spanish Phrases

Money is something that all of us need and appreciate. Most of the people here want to separate you from it. This next section will help you avoid getting ripped off by some of the local Mexicans. Believe me, it can happen. It’s happened to me hundreds of times since I’ve lived here! Unfortunately, for these people it’s just a game. But this section will help you avoid making the mistakes that I did when I first came here.

Don’t forget the three most important rules in dealing with money here:

  1. Try to exchange money before you arrive. If you need money after you arrive, do not exchange dollars at one of the money exchange services on Fifth Avenue. Also, never use the ATMs on Fifth Avenue. Go to one of the major banks and withdraw money from your bank account/credit card with there. Not only will you get a better rate, but you won’t have to worry about some of the ATMs  that have been found to contain “card skimmers” that can read your ATM card and PIN you enter! NOTE: These card skimmers have not been found at the ATMs found within large banks here.
  2. Never pay for anything in dollars. I know, it’s convenient to walk up to a restaurant, bar, or souvenir shop and simply pay in dollars. However, the game is rigged against you. Don’t think for a moment those people are doing you a favor by accepting your dollars. They will give you an atrocious exchange rate! It’s almost guaranteed! The only time you should be paying in dollars is a big institutions like Walmart or Mega grocery stores. Some tours may also demand payment in dollars as well. Retailers and services providing quasi-criminal exchange rates is by far the biggest and most consistent scam that runs in the city!
  3. Never tip more than 10%. I know, I know. You are a cool American/Canadian. You can do whatever you want. However, it’s important to remember that you inadvertently create institutional discrimination by tipping more than 10%. Tipping is not a part of Mexican culture – never has been. This was an idea brought to Mexico from the United States and Canada. When you tip – or more specifically “OVERtip” – you essentially contribute to an ever-growing problem where locals are completely unwelcome and grossly overlooked by the service industry workers who don’t want to serve them because they will not receive as large of a tip from them as a foreigner.

MoneyDinerodee NAIR oh
PesosPesosPAY sew / PAY sews
DollarsDoloresdoe LOAR ays
CentsCentavossen TAH bose
ChangeCambioKAHM bee oh
CoinsMonedamoe NAY duh
How much?CuantoKWAN toe?
How much is that?Cuánto es eso?KWAN toe is EH soe
Do you accept dollars?Aceptas dolares?????
Do you have change?Tienes cambio?tee EN ays KAHM bee oh
Do you accept credit cards?Aceptas tarjetas de credito?????
Signature (for credit cards)FirmaFEER ma
Do you accept travelers checks?Aceptas cheque de viajero?????
Where can i exchange money?Dónde puedo cambiar mi dinero?DUHN day PWAY doe KAHM bee are MEE dee NAIR oh?
One momentUn momentooon moe MEN toe


Hotel-related Spanish

So now that you’ve made it to your hotel, you wondering how to check in, make sure that your room is what you paid for, and take advantage of the “all-inclusive” part of your stay by ordering room service immediately.

Here are a few words that will get you started! Heck, you can even take it a step further – if your housekeeper, bellboy, or whoever else is really cute and friendly, you can start to combine some of the words you learned earlier with some of the words below to get some extra special treatment!

BedCamaKAH ma
TowelToallaTOY ya
ShampooShampooshahm POO
Hair dryerSecadora de cabelloseh ca DOOR a ka BEYE yo
PillowAlmohadaall moe HAH da
RestaurantRestaurantres toe RAHN tay
Air conditioningAire acondicionado????
LuggageEquipajeeh kwip AH hey
I have reservationsTengo reservaciónTAYN go reh sir vay see OWN
I do not have reservationsNo tengo reservaciónno TAYN go reh sir vay see OWN
How much is the room?Cuánto cuesta el cuarto?KWAHN toe KWEH stoe el KWEAR toe?
Does it have an ocean view?Tiene vista a la playa?tee EN aye VEH sta ah la PLAY ya?
May i see the room?Puedo ver el cuarto?PWAY doe bear el QWEAR toe?
Here is my passportAquí tienes mi pasaporte.ah KEE tee EN aye mee pahs a POR tay
Come in (e.g. room service)Adelanteah del EHN tay
We need an extra bedNecesitamos una cama extra.neh say see TAH moas OO na KAH ma EX tra
This is my bagEsta es mi bolsa.EH stah es mee BOWL sa
TipPropinaproe PEE nah
Thank you. This tip is for you.Gracias, esta es tu propina.GRAH see us, eh STAH es too pro PEEN a
Where is the restaurant?Dónde esta el restaurant?DUHN day es TAH el res tah RAHN tay
Where is the pool?Dónde esta la alberca?DUHN day es TAH la el BEAR ka
I would like room serviceMe gustaría servicio al cuarto.mee goo STAH ree a date VEH see OH Al KWAR toe


Restaurant-related Spanish

That’s right! All of this traveling and humidity made you hungry! Using some of the restaurant related Spanish travel phrases below, you should have no problem at all ordering all the food you want – that includes appetizers, entrées, desserts, etc. Oh, and I should not forget the drinks! They’re included below as well.

However, if you want to get extremely familiar with the food here, you have to take a look at my Mexican food glossary. It includes several hundred food items and food-related words that will help you familiarize yourself with the cuisine in the area.

If you’re a single girl/guy, just think how cool you will look when you can order things from the menu in a foreign language! And even if you’re married, your significant other will probably be just as impressed! Score!!!

FoodComidacoe MEE duh
BreakfastDesayunodeh say OO no
LunchAlmuerzoel moo AIR zoe
DinnerCenaSAY nuh
BuffetBuffetbuh FETT (yes, unfortunately the people here don't know its a French-based word)
TableMesaMAY sa
ChairSillaSEE yuh
OpenAbiertoah bee AIR toe
ClosedCerradosir RAH doe
HotCalientekah lee EN tay
ColdFríoFREE oh
We need a table, please.Queremos una mesa, porfavorkare AY moes OO na MAY suh, pore FUH vore
We need a table for 2, please.Queremos una mesa para 2, porfavorkare AY moes OO na MAY suh PAH ruh dose, pore FUH vore
How many people?Cuántas personas?KWAN tuhs per SONE uhs?
For how many people?Para cuántas personas?PAH ra KWAHN tis per SONE uhs?
Waiter/waitressMesero / meseramay SARE oh / may SARE a
BeerCervezasir VAY sa
CoctailCocktelCOKE tell
WineVinoVEE no
What kind of beer do you have?Qué tipo de cervezas tienes?kay TEEpoe day sir VAY suhs tee EN ays?
What kind of wine do you have?Qué tipo de vinos tienes?kay TEE poe day VEE nose tee EN ays?
What is your best cocktail?Cuál es el mejor cocktailcoo ALL es el MAY whor COKE tell?
I would like __________.Me gustaría________.may gooSTAReeuh _____.
AppetizerBotanaboe TAHN a
Entrée/main courseEntrada / Plato principalen TRAH da / PLAH toe prin see PAHL
DessertPostrePOE stray
One appetizer which you recommend?????
What entrée would you recommend?Qué entrada me recomiendas?kay en TRAH duh may reh koe mee EN dahs?
What dessert would you recommend?Qué postre me recomiendas?kay POE stray may reh koe mee EN dahs?
This is too hotEsto esta muy caliente.EH stoe eh STAH MOO ee kah lee EN tay
This is too coldEsto esta muy frío.EH stoe eh STAH MOO ee FREE oh
CheckChequeCHEH kay
TipPropinapro PEEN a
Credit cardTarjeta de creditotar HET a day CREH dee toe
The check, please.La cuenta porfavorla koo EN tuh pore fa VOAR
Is the tip included?La propina esta incluida?la pro PEE nuh eh STAH en cloo EE dah?
Do you accept credit cards?Aceptas tarjeta de credito?ah SEP tas tar HEH TAH day CREH dee toe?
SignatureFirmaFEER ma
Where do i sign?Dónde firmo?DONE day FEER moe?


Getting a Taxi / Location / Directions in Spanish

A stomach full of Mexican/international food! Who could ask for more? It is now time to begin exploring the city. Honestly, it’s difficult to get lost here because this place is not very big. However, you do want to make sure that you can find a taxi, car, or bus as quickly as possible. Spanish travel phrases that you’re going to learn in a moment are going to help you tremendously when it comes time to getting around the city.

You have already learned about money and counting above, so nobody is going to take advantage of you very easily. That’s good because the taxi drivers here are a pernicious but necessary evil in this city. You will want to spend as little time as possible dealing with them. Luckily, if you master this section, you won’t have many problems.

Where?Dónde?DONE day?
Where is ____________?Dónde es_______?DONE day es ________?
CarCarroKAH roe
BusCamiónkah mee OWN
TaxiTaxiTAH ksee
Where is a car rental agency?Dónde hay una agencia de renta de carros?DONE day hi OO na ah HEN see a day REHN tuh day CAH rose?
Where are the transport vans to playa del carmen?Dónde tomo la van que va a Playa del Carmen?DONE day TOE moe la ban kay BAH ah Playa Del Carmen?
Where is the bus to to playa del carmen?Dónde tomo el camión a Playa del Carmen?DONE day TOE moe el kah mee OWN ah Playa Del Carmen?
Where can i get a taxi?Dónde puedo tomar un taxi?DONE day PWAY doe TOE mar oon TAH ksee?
How much?Cuánto?KWAHN toe?
How much does it cost (in a taxi) to __________?Cuánto cuesta en u taxi ir a ___________?KWAHN toe KWEH stuh en oon TAH ksee eer ah _______?
LeftIzquierdaeh SKYAIR duh
RightDerechadeh REH cha
Straight aheadSigue derechoSEE gway deh REH cha
NorthNorteNORE tay
EastEsteEH stay
WestOesteOH eh stay


Shopping Phrases In Spanish

Out of all of the cities in Mexico, Playa Del Carmen offers the best shopping. Of course, every tourist city in this country sells those ridiculous souvenirs that people bring home – gaudy sombreros that look about as ridiculous today as they did when they were actually worn 200 years ago, ugly “handmade” hammocks that usually break a day after you finally figure out how sleep in them, and Mexican tequila shot glasses with a “Made In China” sticker half-removed from the bottom. How embarrassing!

Luckily, there are many more options here. Either way, you will know exactly how to deal with both street sellers and retailers. By using some of the Spanish phrases for shopping below, you can easily find out the correct prices, negotiate with the seller, and make final “take it or leave it” offers.

StoreTiendatee EN duh
MallCentro comercialSEHN tro coe mer see ALL
DiscountDescuentodeh SKWEN toe
ExpensiveCaroKAH roe
CheapBaratobuh RAH toe
DiamondDiamantedee a MEN tay
How much is _____________?Cuánto es por _____?KWAN toe es para _______?
I will give you ___________?Te doy______.tay doy _________.
Will you take _________ for this?Tomarías _____ por esto?toe mar EE ahs _______ pore ES toe?
How much for three of these?Cuánto es por estos tres?KWAN toe es pore EHS toes trays?
Is there a discount if i buy more?Hay descuento si compro más?hi deh SKWEN toe see COMpro mahs?
How much in dollars?Cuánto es en dolares?KWAN toe es en dah LORE ays?
How much in pesos?Cuánto es en pesos?KWAN toe es en PAY soes?
That is expensiveEso es caro.EH soe es KAH roe
That is cheapEso es barato.EH soe es ba RAH toe


Telling the Time In Spanish

Honestly, while you are on vacation, time should not be very important. However, you don’t want to miss transportation too expensive tours, your reservations at an exquisite restaurant, or began keeping “Mexican-style appointments” while you are here (e.g. showing up 45 minutes late for EVERYTHING)!!!

In the following section you will learn about how to tell time in Spanish. Frankly, there are 1 million+ different time combinations on a clock. You will need to combine this section with what you learned about Numbers in Spanish above. You will likely still be confused, but if you also keep in mind the first section we learned that taught you about Being Polite, you won’t have any problems.

What time is it?Que hora es?kay OR a es?
Do you have time for _________?Tienes tiempo para ____?tee EN ays tee EM poe PAH rah ________?
What time do you open?A qué hora abren?ah kay OR a ah BREN?
What time do you close?A qué hora cierran?????
How long will it take?Cuanto tiempo tarda?KWAN to tee EM poe TAR duh?
SecondsSegundosseh GOON does
MinutesMinutosmeh NOO toes
HoursHorasOR ahs
DaysDíasDEE ahs
WeeksSemanasseh MAHN us
MonthsMesesMAY says


Days of the Week In Spanish

I thought about NOT including this section. Why would I do that? Because every day is a Saturday here! The only other day that may qualify as being distinct is Sunday (the actual Sunday) because all the liquor stores close early and they stop selling alcohol at all the convenience stores, Walmart, and even the mom-and-pop liquor stores. Some people actually panic. Other than that, every day feels almost the same here.

Nonetheless, if you don’t want to show up back at the office three or four days late, you should probably learn the days of the week in Spanish! It’s taken me more than five years to learn these – and I still can’t keep them straight. However, if you put in 5-10 minutes memorizing them, you shouldn’t have a problem. And when you do, please give me a call and I will contract you to be my Spanish teacher!

MondayLunesLOO nays
TuesdayMartesMAR tays
WednesdayMiércolesMEE AIR koe liss
ThursdayJuevesWAY vays
FridayViernesbee AIR nays
SaturdaySábadoSAH bah doe
SundayDomingodoe MEEN go


Months of the Year In Spanish

You probably won’t be concerned about the months of the year in Spanish once you arrive. However, as you are planning your vacation, they will be very important. People come to Playa Del Carmen for many reasons – they have time for vacation, there is a specific event here they don’t want to miss, their children have vacation during a certain time of the year, or because they just want to save money during the low season here and plan their vacation around that, etc…

In any case, as you are investigating this city, you will find many of the restaurants/events/tours posters and websites written partially in Spanish. Understanding the months of the year in Spanish will really help you out as you explore some of the activities that are possible here. Like the days of the week in Spanish above, there are really not that many months to memorize, and many of them are very similar to their counterparts in English.

MarchMarzoMAR zoe
AprilAbrilAH breel
MayMayoMY oh
JuneJunioHOON ee oh
JulyJulioHOO lee oh
AugustAgostoah GO stoe
SeptemberSeptiembresep tee EM bray
OctoberOctubreahk TOE bray
NovemberNoviembreno vee EM bray
DecemberDiciembredee see EM bray


Miscellaneous Spanish Travel Phrases

So now you’ve learned more Spanish phrases than I learned in the first several years of living here in Mexico. If you want to know the truth, many of the words on this page I still don’t know! Sad, but true.

In any case, I have included a few extra words here that I I couldn’t quite categorize. There’s a good chance you won’t use them, but if you see one that sparks your interest, feel free to memorize it – and more importantly, use it!

Help!Ayudaeye OO duh
This is an emergency!Es una emergenciais OOna eh mair HEN SEE a
FasterRápidoRAH pee doe
SlowerDespacioeh SPAS ee oh
LessMenosMEN ose
I am AmericanSoy Americanosoy a mare ee KAHN oh
I am CanadianSoy Canadiensesoy kah nah dee EN say
HusbandEsposoeh SPOS oh
WifeEsposaeh SPOS a
BoyfriendNovioNO bee oh
GirlfriendNoviaNO bee a



So now you can speak Spanish almost perfectly. Congratulations! Well not really, but congratulations anyways. There are probably several hundred thousand words in Spanish – and several million common word combinations. Needless to say, I could not include them all.

If you do decide that you want to continue your Spanish studies, there are several places you can do so here in the city. Think of it as a vacation/education combined. (“Vaducation” sounds appropriate?!?)

I hope you have enjoyed learning some of these new words as much as I have enjoyed adding them to this page. If you see any obvious errors (sometimes I am prone to make them), or expressions/words/phrases that absolutely MUST be added to these lists, please let me know in the comments section below.

I hope to hear you speaking Spanish in this city soon!

Lots of love,


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