A Toolkit For Traveling Around Latin America

By | 25 February, 2019

Latin America’s rich mix of diverse cultural phenomena rarely fails to disappoint newcomers. In fact, according to a recent expat survey, Mexico and Colombia are ranked as two of the most welcoming countries for foreigners in the world, including those who don’t speak Spanish! Whether you’re craving the Buenos Aires cinema scene or ecolodging on a farm in Lake Titicaca, Peru, traveling around Latin America is often easy and affordable with a bit of advanced planning. Some added structure and careful thinking about your itinerary will make it so that you genuinely get the most out of your experience, leaving you free to enjoy some of the brightest cultural destinations on the planet.

Funding Your Trip

The first step to planning a journey through Latin America is gauging a sense of what your budget is and what you can reasonably afford during your travels. Luckily, Latin American locales tend to be pretty affordable: you can eat well, drink amply, and explore landmarks within a reasonable price range, especially if you’re converting money from USD or GBP. Always start with planning flights first: flights to and around Latin America are usually the biggest expense, so once you book tickets you can form your itinerary around them. Some travelers take out additional funding for travel expenses: this is a good option if you are returning to full-time work in the States but cannot afford to front the costs of your trip.

Picking Up Spanish

Most English-speaking vacationers in Latin American get by on little to no Spanish when traveling. However, strengthening your Spanish skills will always enhance a trip to Latin America, particularly if you are aiming for remote pueblas and looking to make friends. Prior to arriving, practice your language skills by Spanish watching movies and television shows with English subtitles: this is also a good way to learn slang words and colloquial Latin American phrases you’ll likely encounter during your trip. You can also use apps on your smartphone to practice grammar and vocabulary in your spare time. ¡Buena suerte!

Aim For Less

Paradoxically, the best way to really immerse yourself in Latin American locales is to not try to see everything in one trip. Many vacationers can and do hit numerous countries during their time in Latin America, but unlike Europe, countries in Latin America tend to be spread farther out from each other, so intercontinental travel eats up more of your vacation time. Instead, be reasonable about how much you can expect to see in one journey: try to spend at least 3 days in each destination you visit to do unique, intimate places across the continent justice.

Incoming travelers can expect to be surprised by just how much Latin America has to offer them. Far from a monolith of the Spanish empire, various Afro, European, and indigenous influences mix throughout Latin America to provide an unparalleled blend of cultural diversity and innovation.

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