When backpacking in another country, you will most likely come into a situation where you are required to communicate with a local in their native tongue. This is especially true in Germany where traveling by train, biking, and the Mitfahrgelegenheit (a carpooling program) are inviting forms of transportation for any adventurous backpacker.
For the most part, Germans will understand English. But if you’re off the beaten path, 30 miles from the biggest city and find yourself in a tiny village, finding someone who speaks English is highly unlikely. Here are eight German phrases that will help out in most backpacking situations.
1.) Sprechen Sie Englisch? Can you speak English?
Naturally this is the first question in a series of questions. Even if this person can speak a little bit of English, he or she will make it known. Just like when we know another language, Germans like to show off their foreign language skills.
2.) Wo ist der Hauptbahnhof? Where is the main train station?
Finding the train station is necessary for navigating to your next destination. However, train stations in Germany are also places where you can find a map, food, public bathrooms, lockers (to stow away extra baggage) and Deutsche Bahn workers who will most likely have English skills.
3.) Können Sie das reparieren? Can you fix this?
If you have broken your bike, your bag, or anything that is required for your backpacking journey, you’ll need to find someone who can fix your belongings so that you can continue your trip. If you ask anyone this question while pointing to the object that needs repair, they will understand. If they do not know how to fix it, they will most likely show you who can.
4.) Wo is die Apotheke? Where is the Pharmacy?
Die Apotheke, or the Pharmacy, is the only place to purchase any type of medicine. The pharmacist will most likely understand some English, but if pharmacist does not, you can describe your ailment by pointing and saying the following words:
Ich bin krank. I am sick.
Hier habe ich Schmerzen. I have pain here.
Ich bin allergisch gegen Penizillin. I am allergic to penicillin.
Die Übelkeit. Nausea
5.) Rufen Sie bitte einen Krankenwagen! Please call an ambulance!
Use this phrase in the event of a more serious situation where you need to go to a hospital.
6.) Wo gibt es hier ein preiswertes Restaurant? Is there an inexpensive restaurant near here?
There are many good reasons why this question is important. First, while backpacking it is important to spend modestly and save wherever possible. Eating is necessary, but eating extravagantly is not. Second, Germans love deals! If you ask a local this question he or she will lead you to his or her favorite inexpensive restaurant. This insight will save you money, but also reveal to you where the locals are eating.
7.) Vielen Dank für deine Hilfe! Thank you very much for your help!
Always remember to thank anyone who has helped you along the way!
8.) Ich hatte gerne ein Bier? I would like a glass of beer
Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated through Germany while speaking in the native tongue. I’d say this calls for a celebration and a beer.