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Carry Translated Emergency Phrases Overseas


Whenever you travel to a destination where the primary language is not English, it’s a good idea to learn a few phrases and key words in the local language. This can not only help to locate the nearest bano, salle de bain, or badezimmer when nature calls, it can help save your life.

Whether you take a language class, study a phrasebook, or don’t bother with any formal preparation, you should bring an index card listing the local words and translations necessary for getting help in emergency situations. Keep the card handy in a pocket or bag separate from your wallet (in case your wallet is stolen) that you can easily access at all times.

Here are some words and phrases you should write in translation on your card:

  • Help
  • Stop
  • Leave me alone
  • Call the police
  • I need the police
  • I need a doctor
  • I need to go to the hospital
  • I had a [car, bike, moped, etc.] accident
  • I have been robbed
  • I need a taxi
  • I need someone who speaks English

Besides these phrases, you should look at your specific situation and think about other idioms that could help you. For example, if you are going sailing on vacation, you might learn some emergency terms associated with boating. Obviously it helps if you practice saying the words in advance, but the card is a good backup for when you’re stressed and not thinking straight.

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