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We can’t emphasise enough just how much it can enhance your experience in Latin America if you spend a short while before your trip swatting up on a few Spanish phrases. The locals you will encounter are some of the warmest and most hospitable people you could wish to meet, so why not return the favour with a small token of respect by impressing them with a Spanish phrase or two? We’ve been specialising in travel to Central and South America for over 30 years and can tell you that knowing just a little can go a long way!

Here are 15 very simple yet essential phrases you can learn to use on your trip:

1) Hola - Hi

2) Por favor / Gracias - Please / Thankyou

3) Buenos días / Buenas tardes / Buenas noches - Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening

4) ¿Cómo estás? - How are you?

5) Mucho gusto - Nice to meet you

6) Me gustaría - I would like

7) Yo necesito - I need

8) ¿Tiene? - Do you have?

9) ¿Dónde está? - Where is?

10) ¿Cuánto cuesta? - How much does it cost?

11) ¿Qué hora es? - What time is it?

12) A la derecha / A la izquierda  / Siga derecho - On the right / On the left / Straight ahead

13) A una cuadra / A dos, tres, cuatro cuadras- In one block / In two, three, four blocks

14) El baño - The bathroom

15) Banco / Dinero / Cambio / La cuenta - Bank / Money / Change / The bill

And finally, if all else fails:

Yo (no) entiendo - I (don’t) understand

¿Habla inglés? - Do you speak English?

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Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Millie
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Hannah
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Heloise
    Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert

    Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

  • Carrie
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Juliet
    Juliet Ellwood - Travel Expert

    After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and History and having been fascinated by Latin America since childhood by the book featuring photos of Nazca, Juliet first visited the region in 2003. Since then, Juliet has visited the majority of countries in Latin America but has particularly extensive experience with Peru, a country she loves for many reasons but not least, its incredible archaeological richness and delicious food!

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