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Best Travel Phrasebooks

Compare prices on the best foreign phrasebooks for travel

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I'm linguistically challenged. Yup. Despite much study, I often find myself at a language loss when I'm actually on the ground elsewhere, which is where I can't function without my well-thumbed travel phrasebooks. They fit in a cargo pants pocket, and I can just hand one over to an exasperated shopkeeper when pantomime and international pictionary fail, as travel phrasebooks have reverse dictionaries. Check out the best of the best travel phrasebooks and dictionaries (scroll to see 'em all):

1. Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish

Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish Phrasebook
© Lonely Planet
How I love this one -- when in Mexico, this Mexican Spanish phrasebook is a godsend. Although I did discover once in the jungle of Chiapas that there is no Spanish phrase for, "Do you sell portable personal air conditioners?" that can be understood when uttered by a sweaty, wild eyed babbler. (Yeah, don't think they had that, anyway.)
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2. Lonely Planet Latin American Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook
© Lonely Planet
Spanish words can vary slightly from country to country where Spanish is the language, and this phrasebook lists a word or phrase and how it's said over different borders (un cafecito in Mexico or un cafe chico in Argentina will get you a small cup of coffee; la farmacia is the pharmacy in Mexico -- in Columbia, it's la drogueria). The best travel phrasebooks also provide you with snippets of valuable info about the country, and this one lists things like a brief overview of typical dishes in all Latin American countries or the difference in bullfight rules from Mexico to Costa Rica (just what you needed to know, right?).
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3. Fodor's French for Travelers

Fodor's French for Travelers
© Wiley Publishing
Fodor's French for Travelers especially suits us -- just when we need it most, kinda brings back the classroom and all that vocab we memorized ("Where is the platform for the train to Nice that leaves in two minutes?!?!").
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4. Fodor's Italian for Travelers

Fodor's Italian Phrasebook
© Wiley Publishing
"Pizza" and "vino" are not the only words you need to learn to be able to travel happily in Italy.
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5. Rough Guide German Phrasebooks

Rough Guide German Phrasebooks and Dictionaries
© Rough Guides
Compare prices on some good German phrasebooks and German dictionaries from one of our main guidebook fave publishers, Rough Guide -- though German phrasebooks don't help me to stop sounding like I'm imitating Colonel Klink, they do help me find the train station, the beer hall and the hostel.
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6. Mandarin Phrasebooks and Dictionaries

Rough Guide Mandarin Phrasebook
© Rough Guides
Mandarin, the fastest growing language in the world, is something you need to know a bit of in this century. Compare prices here on some good phrasebooks -- we especially like Rough Guide's Mandarin phrasebook.
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7. Thai Phrasebooks and Dictionaries

Rough Guide Thai Phrasebook
© Rough Guide
Believe it -- it's good to know how to say more in Thailand than asking, "Ko Phangan?" Compare prices on some travel sized Thai phrasebooks and get a little Thai language help from Thai dictionaries. Talking dictionaries, too, should you really want to go geek.
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8. Lonely Planet Western Europe Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Western Europe Phrasebook cover
© Lonely Planet
You're covered for most of the bases in the EU with a Western Europe phrasebook -- get Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and even Turkish with Lonely Planet's most excellent Western Europe phrasebook. We like this lots... it's a good one for a group tour, where one may be hitting many countries in a few days ("If this is Brussels, it must be Tuesday... oh, wait, where's the Flemish phrasebook?"... naw, seriously, you'll be fine in most of Europe, where many locals speak a smattering of other tongues, with this catch-all book).

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