Turns of Phrase for Travel in a Turbulent Time - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Turns of Phrase for Travel in a Turbulent Time

Turns of Phrase for Travel in a Turbulent Time

By Barbara Fletcher


Because when you travel, you’re representing America.

By Barbara Fletcher

Presidential transitions usually portend all sorts of shifts — from global policy and trade to the hurly burly of tourism. How will Americans traveling abroad will be received once they cross the border? Too early to say. But a few of these phrases could come in handy. 


It’s a place that offers a lifetime’s worth of adventures, from the colorful spires and chandelier-clad subways of Moscow to the roiling volcanoes of Kamchatka. One of the biggest adventures, however, is the country’s potential role in our recent election. Should you meet a local, you can thank them personally with this icebreaker:

“Congratulations on our new president.”

“Поздравляем нашего нового президента.” 
(Pozdravlyayem nashego novogo prezidenta.)


Americans think 100 years is a long time; Brits think 100 miles is a long distance. China laughs at both. Sure, many of its cities are smog-laden, but think of those 3,600 years of accumulated culture and the stunning variety of scenery. Show your new neighbors how we can all laugh a little at climate change with: 

“Wow, the air is so clean today! I can see at least 12 feet in front of me!”

“哇(塞), 今天的空气如此干净! 我能够看到我面前的至少12英尺!” 
(Wa (sāi), jīntiān de kōngqì rúcǐ gānjìng! Wǒ nénggòu kàn dào wǒ miànqián de zhìshǎo 12 yīngchǐ)



Forget that bad press that Mexico has been receiving from north of the border. The country can keep you well occupied until 2020 with its deserts, mountains and jungles, as well as ruins from the great Aztec civilization. Tackle the elephant in the room with this quip:  

“The wall? What wall? I am Canadian.”

“¿La pared? ¿Cual pared? Soy canadiense.”

Or profess your shared love of a certain distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant:

“This tequila is so good I can’t stop drinking it. Why can’t I feel my legs?”

“Este tequila es tan bueno que no puedo dejar de beber! ¿Por qué no puedo sentir mis piernas?”


If the intensity of the inauguration is stressing you out, spending a bit of time in the Netherlands might be the best prescription. Unwind with a bike ride through the cobbled streets of Amsterdam. If locals think you’re visiting for any other reason, feel free to set them straight:

“Don’t worry, I really am here to see the sights. If I wanted to smoke weed, I could just go to California.”

“Nee echt, ik ben hier om de stad te ontdekken. Als ik wiet had willen roken was ik gewoon naar Californië gegaan.”


The vibrant bustle of India’s colorful cities is unparalleled. Visit the bright sights in vibrant Delhi, where you can take in the Taj Mahal in nearby Agra. Show the locals what you’re made of with this icebreakers:

“I’m not worried about eating the street food. I have built up my resistance by dining at Chipotle.”

“मैं सड़क का खाना खाने के बारे में चिंतित नहीं हूँ। मैंने Chipotle में भोजन द्वारा अपने प्रतिरोध का निर्माण किया है।” 
(Main sadak ka khaana khanne ke baare mein chintit nahin hoon. Maine Chipotle mein bhojan dvaara apne pratirodh ka nirmaan kiya hai.)

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