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how to learn a language for travel 7 steps

How To Learn A Language For Travel: 7 Steps to Learning A Language Completely Alone

This article about how to learn a language for travel may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

Are you one of those travelers thinking about finally learning a new language for travel purposes, but you keep putting it aside? I am with you. But let’s talk. Honestly, even when you just think that you would like to learn a language for travel. You have already made the first step. You are further than those who aren’t even trying. Now you just have to cross this line and actually get round into the language learning process.

If you don’t know where to start, I would like to help you with it. This article will show you efficient ways to pick up a new language for travel in 7 simple steps



How To Learn A New Language For Travel: 7 Steps

Here is a list of 7 simple steps to learn a new language for travel:

  1. Find motivation inside you
  2. Choose a topic (situation) to learn new vocabulary
  3. Set up achievable language learning goals
  4. Write down topic specific vocabulary
  5. Learn new vocabulary using effective strategies
  6. Keep improving your language skills (listen to podcasts, learn with language apps, read books & magazines)
  7. Practice speaking 



Different Approach To Language Learning

I am going to reveal how you can approach language learning differently. You will find out that setting up specific and smaller goals, focusing on one or two topics within the language, and sticking to your plan is crucial. It’ll help you pick up a new language before traveling. It is a method I have come up with during my language learning journey. I have been following these steps and now speak 3 languages fluently. This method works if you are willing to dedicate some time to it and mean it seriously with your language learning process.


With my language learning method, you’ll be able to pick up a new language for travel. I’ve been following these steps and now speak 3 languages fluently.


So, let’s get into it and break each step down into detail. Below, I am giving you 7 steps and tips for reaching your goal to speak a local language when you are traveling.





2.Language you want to learn spoken in the country you’ll be visiting

3.Language Travel Notebook (for new vocabulary)

4.Small budget to practice speaking online – OPTIONAL

5.Positive mindset



The 7 Steps To Learn A Language For Travel


1. Find Motivation Inside You

Once you are planning your journey in a country, traveling is a motivation itself for you. Travel itself will push you and help you to find the motivation for learning the language. Because let’s be honest. Traveling gets much easier, enjoyable, and exciting if you speak at least a few words of the language.

You have to define the reasons why you want to learn the language. Once you have them, write them down into your language travel notebook. It will help you keep up with your language learning in challenging times when you feel down or unmotivated. Being aware of your motivation and reason to learn the language is very important.

Motivation how to learn a language for travel 7 steps
How to learn a language for travel: Have motivation


2. Choose A Topic/Situation

Now you have a reason, motivation why you want to learn the language. In our case, we want to learn a language for travel. So, at the beginning of our language learning journey, let’s think about specific topics and situations when we want to use the language once we travel. It can be anything – ordering food in a restaurant, vocabulary for accommodation, traveling at the airport, etc.

Write these topics down into your language travel notebook. I go into detail about how to choose a specific topic and learn topic specific vocabulary in a separate article, so check it out.



3. Set Up Achievable Language Learning Goals

Setting up language learning goals is another crucial part of language learning. It will help you to stick to the learning process and keep you on track. When it comes to goal setting, your goals have to be specific and small.


Set Up Specific Goals

Remember that your goals need to be specific. Don’t just say I will learn how to communicate in a hotel and in a restaurant. Be more specific.

Say”Once traveling, I’ll greet the receptionist at the hotel in the foreign language, listen to him and ask relevant questions about the hotel, when the breakfast is, how to get there and there, etc.

I’ll order food in that language in a restaurant and have a small conversation with a waiter. Also, I’ll be able to ask for the bill and pay in the end, all speaking in that language.”



I think you get the point. Set up specific goals you want to achieve before traveling to the country. But think smaller so that you can stick to that plan. Making big plans can mean not learning much eventually. Another article will guide you through the process of how to set up specific language learning goals. Also, I’ll give you some hints to determine whether your goals are effective, so check it out.


Set Up Smaller Goals

Let’s say you are leaving to explore the country in a month… Don’t be too strict with yourself. Nobody is a hero, and let’s be honest, learning a language takes some time. So set smaller goals like, for example:

In a month, you’ll learn how to communicate at your accommodation and in a restaurant.’


That’s already a lot and is totally manageable. If you are too strict with yourself and want to learn a lot before traveling to the country… well, unless you have plenty of time, it will be more difficult for you to follow the plan. In the end, you might end up being disappointed that you didn’t make it. So instead, pick up one or two topics and learn words within that area.

My language learning calendar how to learn a language for travel 7 steps
How to learn a language for travel: Set up specific & smaller language learning goals


Advantage Of Smaller & Specific Goals

Another advantage is – you learn a little bit within one topic. You achieve it and will be able to communicate in that situation while traveling. Then you’ll have another excuse to go to that country again. You can make a promise to yourself that next time, you’ll learn vocabulary within another topic (e.g., sports or leisure travel). Also, once you master speaking within the topic, you’ll gain more motivation.


Get My Language Learning Calendar

I’ve created a language learning calendar for you to keep track of your learning and motivation. This calendar is designed for one week. Into each day, you can write down the topic & vocabulary you want to learn, how much time you’ll spend, and the method you’ll use to do so.

Either plan and write down what you’ll learn before each week starts, or you can write down what you have learned each day to keep track of your learning process. I like to write down things I learned on that day once I’ve done so. But I make sure I spend some time with the language every single day. So choose what works better for you.


Get your Language Learning Calendar

language learning calendar


4.Write Down Topic Specific Vocabulary

Once you have set up your goals, let’s start achieving them. First of all, I recommend you start learning vocabulary step by step. First, think about words in your own language you need to speak in the particular topic (situation). Then, write these words down into your language travel notebook. When you have them, translate them into the foreign language you want to learn.

Write all these translated words into your notebook. I have also explained the entire process of selecting a specific topic and topic specific vocabulary in a separate article, so check it out.


My approach to learning a language is to pick up as many words within one topic. Then, simply try memorizing these words and use them in a particular context. Use your imagination.

create sentences language learning goals


Incorporate Language App

In the meantime, I also recommend you choose a language app and learn the very basics of the language. As the next step, you’ll be creating sentences using your topic-specific vocabulary. However, it might be difficult for you as an absolute beginner in the language. This is when language apps come to play.

I always recommend LanguagePod101 to my readers and audience. I love LanguagePod101 because they teach you basic vocabulary in dialogues and everyday life conversations. You’ll automatically learn new words in a context.

This language app will also help you learn everything you need to learn in a new language in terms of basic vocabulary (greetings, introducing yourself, numbers, time, colors, etc.). You’ll also understand simple grammar with is (verbs, conjugations, nouns, adjectives, etc.)

Listen to one dialogue each day. Then, the next day, focus on the same dialogue and see if you remember the new words. If you feel comfortable, jump to the next dialogue. During the process, you can also learn your topic specific vocabulary.


Read my separate article if you’d like to get an overview of what to learn in a new language as an absolute beginner. 


Create Sentences Using New Words

After a month or two of learning basics with LanguagePod101 and learning your topic specific vocabulary, you can start creating sentences. For example, imagine sitting in that restaurant, and you want to order, let’s say, paella. Say the words (or the entire sentence) in your own language, and then translate them into your target language. This way, you’ll incorporate the words into speech and practice in a ‘real situation.’

I recommend you also write the sentences down in your language travel notebook, read them aloud, and repeat the same process again and again.


Your Language Travel Notebook

The language travel notebook will become your best friend. It’ll guide you through all 7 steps of learning a language for travel. It’s your own book, where you’ll have all vocabulary within the specific topic you want to learn. 

Take it with you once you travel to add new words as you go. I have my own language notebook. It serves me to keep track of new vocabulary and sentences and follow these 7 steps every time I learn a new language. Also, I carry it with me once traveling to the country where my chosen language is spoken. When I learn a new word, I write it down to remember it. 

Download the language travel notebook and hop on your language learning journey now. For the guidelines on how to use it, check out explanations about the language travel notebook.



My language travel notebook


5. Learn Vocabulary Using Effective Strategies

Perfect, you’ve selected situations when you want to communicate in that language and the specific topic. Now it is time to learn that vocabulary on your own. This is a step that scares many people. They think it isn’t so effective, just memorizing words.

I have to tell you that when you are at the beginning of your language learning process, it is great to start with learning vocabulary on your own. You need some base to create sentences, little conversations and start understanding the language. But how are you going to do that if you don’t have any vocabulary in your pocket? So that’s why I, first of all, encourage you to learn the vocabulary.

We’ll learn the words using effective and fun ways, try to be in constant contact with them, and learn to use them properly later.

start learning vocabulary how to learn a language for travel 7 steps
How to learn a language for travel: Learn vocabulary with effective strategies


Use Effective Strategies To Learn Vocabulary

Only memorizing words means that many people cannot really use them in a conversation after. They just learn everything by heart, and then they are stuck when somebody asks them something, and they have to reply. This isn’t going to be our case.

Once you have your vocabulary in your language travel notebook, I encourage you to use my strategies and tips on how to learn vocabulary fast. It’ll be a fun and interesting process. You only have to choose a strategy that works for you and tips that are interesting to you.

Another thing you can do is to choose one or two gifts for language learners from the list I’ve put together. It includes many interesting activities and fun games that will help you to learn vocabulary effectively.



6. Keep Improving Your Language Skills

When you feel like you’ve mastered new vocabulary within the topic you chose, it’s time to work with that vocabulary. So let’s get your language learning to the next level. 

It’s time to familiarize yourself with the language even more and learn how to use the vocabulary in real life. You’ll be reading books and language magazines, listening to best language learning podcasts, doing your favorite activities using the language, and many other things.  

So as the next step, follow my 7 useful tips on how to improve your language skills.

Improve your language skills
My 7 useful tips to improve your language skills



7. Practice Speaking

So you have now learned the necessary vocabulary for the topic that you chose. That’s perfect. You are halfway through. Congratulations. You can also produce your own sentences in the foreign language within the topics (situations). You are also able to understand the language, thanks to the resources you’ve been using.

You’ve done a lot of work independently. Until now, you’ve been learning the language mainly passively. It’s time to jump to the next level of our language learning process. Let’s add up active learning.

You need to start speaking to reach fluency and confidence in that language. It’s time to start using the language actively. I highly recommend taking a few lessons with a native speaker online (it doesn’t have to be necessarily a native one).

Not only will the native speaker motivate you to speak to somebody in reality, but it will also give you much more confidence. If you just talk to yourself and memorize vocabulary, it will help you, but it won’t give you the confidence to actually speak once you are traveling.

Spanish life story
Me practicing speaking in Spanish during my exchange semester in Barcelona with Spanish girls


Real Boost In Your Language Learning

When you start talking to someone using what you have learned on your own, you’ll experience a real boost in your learning process. The tutor will also guide you, tell you how to pronounce the word, and correct you. 

Sometimes, you might learn words that native speakers wouldn’t use, or they would just express them differently. Your tutor will assure you that your sentences are right and you speak as a native does.


Find out what are the 4 best platforms to practice language with native speakers.

I recommend you start practicing speaking on iTalki. It helped me to master my Spanish speaking. iTalki is a great platform to choose your tutor and learn how to speak. Tutors are very nice and always guide you in the language.

You can now get 10$ credit after your 1. lesson on iTalki. Click below to start practicing speaking on iTalki and get your 10$ credit.


Register & Get 10$ Credit on iTalki

Practice speaking online
How to learn a language for travel: Practice speaking on iTalki


These are my basic 7 steps for you to finally learn a language for travel. I am here to help you during the process. Check out other articles in my language blog, where I explain each part step by step. In addition, it contains many tips, tricks, and strategies on how to learn the vocabulary, use it in a context, and use platforms and resources to practice the language.

Let me finish with my 2 greatest pieces of advice for you.



How To Overcome Your Fear Of Speaking

This is my biggest advice to you. So many people are afraid of speaking in a foreign language because they are afraid of making mistakes. Man, everybody makes mistakes. Nobody cares. Forget about it. Making mistakes is actually great because we learn from them.

Believe me, it’s the other way. Once you travel in the country and speak a few words to locals, they aren’t paying attention to your mistakes. Instead, they are amazed that you speak their language. They really appreciate it. And most of the time, you’ll feel that appreciation.

I have experienced that plenty of time. For example, before going to a bakery, I stood in front of it for 3 minutes practicing the sentence I would tell the shop assistant…. I was nervous that they wouldn’t understand me. Or I would forget some words and stand there, and others would be angry at me because I would delay them.


No, no, no. Nothing like that will happen to you. And even if, whatever. You have tried. Believe me, the people will understand, and they’ll be surprised that you speak at least a little bit.

Overcome your fear of speaking foreign language following my tips. Get some inspiration as this is the significant thing to start speaking.



Think Positively & Enjoy Language Learning

Lastly, I have a few words of encouragement for you. My last piece of advice to you is to think positively. Yes, this is an essential part of it. Even if you have fear inside you, you have to overcome it.

Tell yourself that you’ll make it and order something in a foreign language like a pro. You won’t make mistakes. If you go into the conversation with this mindset, believe me, it’ll work out.

You’ll speak a foreign language without problems. It really works. You’ll soon see the benefits. Don’t forget to enjoy the whole language learning process. If it makes fun, you’ll learn more easily and effectively.

how to learn a language for travel 7 steps Positive mindset


Recap For Learning A Language For Travel

So here is a small recap for how to learn a language for travel in 7 basic steps:

  1. Motivate yourself – travel and experience in the country where people speak the language are your motivation.
  2. Pick up a topic (food, accommodation, transportation, communication at the airport, etc.) to learn new vocabulary & set up specific and smaller goals.
  3. Take your language travel notebook and start writing topic specific vocabulary down that you have to learn (any words you can think of within your topic). After, create sentences using these words and try to memorize them.
  4. Start learning the vocabulary on your own.
  5. Keep improving your language skills and learn how to use the vocabulary in a context.
  6. Practice speaking with tutors online
  7. Never be afraid of speaking once you travel to that country. Practice with locals what you have learned before traveling.



More Tips On Language Learning

This is my method for how to learn a language for travel. Remember, you don’t have to become a professional. You are just learning something from the language because you want to understand, communicate with locals, and enjoy traveling more. In the end, it will help you get closer to the culture and the community. You’ll feel empowered, and traveling will get much more exciting and fun.

If you find it difficult to stick to the learning and don’t know how to achieve your goals, read my article about how to achieve goals when learning languages

Go to my language blog for more inspiration about language learning. Also, check out the easiest European languages to learn and why you shouldn’t learn multiple languages at once.

If you want to learn Italian, check out the best Italian language app for travel and follow my strategy.


I hope these tips will help you pick up a few words and speak the language you want to enjoy your travel adventure. Let me know in the comments below if you have your own strategy to learn a language for traveling or any questions.

Happy language learning for your better travel experience.



How To Learn A Language Traveling?

If you wonder where languages will be useful for you, I also design travel itineraries, which you can take and travel to many countries on your own. These itineraries are mostly road trips, on which you’ll get the chance to practice the languages. Check out my travel itineraries, learn, and practice your language skills while traveling.

Also, learn what is the best language to learn to travel Europe. Choose your perfect language based on the European destination you want to visit.

Check out my article about the benefits of learning foreign language for travel. I’ll give you more inspiration and encouragement to get started.




This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Nina

    I love your tip on smaller goals! I often struggle to learn languages cause I feel like I need to learn it all ASAP. Having little goals like speaking to the receptionist is so smart!

    1. Nicoletta

      Thanks Nina, am I glad :). I used to have the same problem, and had the feeling that I had to learn a language so fast… but it never works :D. We have to be clear in what we want to achieve in the language, then it’s much easier.

  2. Thanks for these tips! I do try to learn a few phrases from the local language of the destination where I’m going.

    1. Nicoletta

      That’s amazing, Ivan. I am so happy that you learn languages for travel. May I ask which languages have you learned? And which of them do you plan to learn in the future? 🙂

  3. Claire

    okayyy these are really helpful tips! i haven’t practice my spanish in a very long time and this blog made me wan to get back into it – i even downloaded your language travel notebook, so i’ve very excited 🙂 🙂

    1. Nicoletta

      This is awesome Claire, I am so happy the article has been useful for you. Keep me updated about your progress, and feel free to write me if you have any more questions or feel stuck. I have some great resources you can use to learn Spanish; check them out in my Spanish Language section. Happy learning!

  4. I have great aspirations to learn a new langue or two. But I can’t seem to stick with the lessons and practice. Good to focus on specific topics to start. That would also motivate you to learn more. And great to write down your own personalized vocabulary.

    1. Nicoletta

      That’s amazing, Linda. I am so happy you want to learn languages. And also completely understand the problem. That’s where the specific topics and goals will really help you and keep you focused. Let me know which language you want to learn next and if you have any questions :).

  5. Lorry

    I love your sensible step-by-step tips to learn a language. I have always been afraid to speak a new language because of making mistakes. As soon as I find the time, I am going to try this out before our next trip.

    1. Nicoletta

      Awesome, Lorry; I am happy my article inspired you to try speaking a new language again. I see your point, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Really. Locals appreciate it so much if you talk to them in their native language. Nobody cares about the mistakes you make. You will see, just try it. It is only in your head ;). If you want, I have an article about overcoming the fear of speaking in a foreign language that will help you forget this fear. Check it out: https://voicesoftravel.com/speaking-in-a-foreign-language/

  6. This is such an informative post. Many of them struggle to learn languages because every one wants to learn faster.

    1. Nicoletta

      Thank you, Planet Hopper :). You are completely right.

  7. Jacqueline

    Awesome tips. This is something I definitely struggle with. I am so jealous of people who just seem to pick up languages so easily, but as you said, I can probably improve by changing my mindset and finding more motivation

    1. Nicoletta

      I totally understand you, Jacqueline. But believe me, it is really only about the mindset you have and the consistency. If you stick to the language learning, do it regularly, each day for 30min (or even less), it is going to work. You can do it ;).

  8. Agnes

    I am in awe of your article, great and very valuable tips. I am going to use them because I would like to learn Spanish. I know only basis. I think my goals weren’t specific enough so far.

    1. Nicoletta

      I am glad the article has been helpful for you, Agnes. Let me know once you start learning Spanish and if I can support you in any way.
      I also have additional resources for you to learn Spanish, so check them out here in the Spanish section.

  9. Aradhana

    This is a really helpful guide. I think practicing it with locals makes it all the more worthwhile.

    1. Nicoletta

      That’s right, when you know you will practice with locals, it motivates you the most :).

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