Travel phrase books

Foreign language phrase books & travel dictionaries

Phrase books

Rick Steves' Phrase Books and Dictionary

Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary Available in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese.

[from, for the Italian version:] Buon giorno! From ordering calamari in Venice to making new friends in Tuscan hill towns, it helps to speak some of the native tongue.

Rick Steves, best-selling author of travel guides to Europe, offers well-tested phrases and key words to cover every situation a traveler is likely to encounter.

This handy guide provides key phrases for use in everyday circumstances, complete with phonetic spelling; an English-Italian and Italian-English dictionary; the latest information on European currency and rail transportation, and even a tear-out cheat sheet for continued language practice as you wait in line at the Sistine Chapel.

Informative, concise, and practical, Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary is an essential item for any traveler's zainetto (that's Italian for "day pack")...

Eyewitness Travel Phrase Books

Eyewitness Travel Phrasebook: European Languages Available in "European" (a mighty combo of Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish), plus individual phrase guides to Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Danish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, Dutch, Bulgarian, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Latin American Spanish, and Hebrew.

Computerized travel phrase books
lingo xplorer talking translatorThey're the size of a calculator and can literally speak more than 50 languages. The fanciest let you speak a phrase into the device in your own language and it translates it into any other language and speaks it out loud. Stark Trek stuff, man:

• Lingo Xplorer 52 Talking Translator(52 languages)
• Lingo Eurotalk 6-Language Translator (6 languages)
• Ectaco NTL-8C iTRAVL Talking 2-Way Multilingual Language Communicator and Electronic Dictionary (9 languages—but it's the one you can talk into)

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[from] These pocket dictionaries give business and vacation travelers everything they need for a smooth, successful trip.

Organized by subject, the traveler can quickly find the vocabulary relevant to the situation, whether transportation, hotels, meals, shopping, post offices and banks, sports, or health care, accompanied by a pronunciation guide.

At the end of each phrase book is a 2,000-word mini-dictionary. Fully updated from the original editions to reflect currency changes such as the Euro and new vocabulary such as e-tickets...

Lonely Planet Phrasebooks

Lonely Planet: Italian Phrasebook Available in lots of handy, multi-language regional versions (Europe, Southeast Asia Middle East, Mediterranean Europe, Central Europe, ) as well as just about any individual language you might want.

Also have shorter "Small Talk" series designed for just the basic useful phrases and shorter trips.

LP was the first publisher to realize that more people probably needed to know pick-up lines in the local lingo than needed help saying such traditional phrase book stalwarts as, "Pardon me, good sir, but could you please assist me in securing the services of a porter for my valise?"

Rough Guide Phrasebooks

Rough Guide Phrasebook: FrenchAvailable in about 20 popular traveler languages. [from the Publishers:] Highly practical, laid out in clear A-Z style • Detailed grammar section - Rough Guide phrase books are the only series on the market to include a grammar section. • Designed to fit snugly in your pocket and affordably priced. • Extensive menu and drinks reader, giving a run-down of food and drink terms that you’ll find indispensable whether you’re eating out or browsing a local food market. • Only phrasebook series on the market to offer FREE audio file downloads.

When words fail, point at pictures
Kwikpoint point-and-choose translator cardA laminated, foldable Kwikpoint card is covered with cartoonish pictures off all the things a traveler might need—double bed, taxi, AAAA battery, ice skates, pig, computer printer, toothpaste, cheese, gas station, can opener, policeman, etc. You just unfold it like a map, point at the thing you want, and throw on the local word for "please?"

Each Rough Guide phrasebook includes 16 pages of scenario material presented in easy-to-locate tinted boxes. These scenarios are also available online as downloadable audio files. Recorded with native speakers, the files can be downloaded for FREE online to a PC or Mac, and then to an iPod or other MP3 player. Ideal for practicing your pronunciation and polishing your accent either before you travel or while on the road.

Berlitz Phrase Books

Berlitz Italian Phrase Book The classic travel phrase books, available in dozens of languages. [from the publishers:] With the newest editions, Berlitz redefines the phrase book with its full-color best-selling collection, making communication more successful and comfortable.

Yes, they're a bit old-fashioned, but they have pretty much all of the words and phrases you'll ever need to use while traveling.

Hide This Italian BookAlso, as proof they're not entirely stodgy: dig around in the search results for Berlitz's "Hide This Italian Book" series (and other series for French and Spanish). [from] It's not the Italian you learned in high school. This uncensored language guide has everything you need to speak real Italian from cool lingo to hard-core insults. Learn the lingo on love, sex, extreme sports, fashion, gossip, partying and much more. Also exposed in "Hide This Book" are hilarious mishaps, social trends, and cool cultural features. Entertaining as well as enlightening, this is one language reference you'll enjoy reading cover to cover.

Pocket travel dictionaries

Most travel phrase books have basic two-language reference dictionaries at the back, but full pocket dictionaries typically offer five or six times as many words in translation.

Translator apps
These are the foreign language apps I have on my iPhone. Unlike the vast majority of translator apps for the iPhone—merely interfaces to the Google translate engine—those listed below work without Internet access (so you won't incur huge roaming fees). The boldface are the better choices in each price range:

World Nomads (free)
• 24/7 Tutor (free)
• Cool Gorilla (99¢)
• Word Roll (99¢)
• Odyssey ($9.99)
• Lonely Planet

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Langenscheidt Pocket Dictionaries

Langenscheidt Pocket Italian Dictionary: German-English/English-German Available in all major European and Asian languages. •  Over 45,000 references and around 65,000 translations on 672 pages • Comprehensive vocabulary with many idiomatic expressions and up-to-date words • Attractive two-color layout with all main headwords in blue for quick reference • Conjugation tables for the verbs • The ideal compact reference work for everyday use.

Berlitz Pocket Dictionaries

Berlitz Japanese/English Pocket DictionaryAvailable in just about any European language you can think of, plus major Asian ones (Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese).

[from] Compact and comprehensive, the Berlitz Pocket Dictionary is suitable for travellers, students or professionals. Blue headwords make entries accessible while its size makes the book handy and portable.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.