It is important to learn common phrases of the languages spoken in the countries on your travel itinerary, and it is not a hard task! There are many free resources available online to help you develop foreign language skills, whether you are a total beginner or already have some proficiency. Resources range from simple dictionaries and translators to complete lessons with sound and/or video. I’ve listed links to sites focusing on French, German, Italian and Spanish, but there are many more. And my list is heavy on French, since that’s the language I’ve been focusing on, but this will give you a good sense of all that is available online… and for free!
Duolingo: One of the most popular online language learning resources, Duolingo offers a wide variety of language lessons. An account is required, but it is free to set up!
Word Reference: Online translation dictionaries (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian). This is the resource I use when I need a quick translation of just one word.
Phrasebase: A conversational foreign language learning social network, including lessons (40 languages).
Word2Word: All kinds of language resources, including links to free lessons in many languages.
BBC Languages: Online courses in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and many more, using slide shows and sounds. Great resource for practical tourist needs.
French in Action: A free video-on-demand educational program with 52 different lessons. An excellent resource!
Destinos – An Introduction to Spanish: Free online video-on-demand program with 52 different lessons.
FrenchAssistant: Free online French lessons, with sound.
French Word-a-Day: A periodic newsletter offering a daily word and other vocabulary incorporated into a story (in English) about French life. Written by an American woman living in Provence. I really enjoy these pieces.
ThoughtCo : A Website offering language lessons in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Mandarin.