Traveling in Spanish-speaking countries is a spectacular way to discover the amazing natural wonders, but let’s face it, learning another language is really hard. And since the United States is the most powerful nation in the world, shouldn’t everyone speak American already? Use these quick tips for getting around, and you’ll save yourself the hassle of learning anything new!
1. Point to things
Pointing is a great way to show you want something. Counting on your fingers demonstrates how many you want. And staring blankly indicates you’re not going to answer their question.
Pro Tip: Find restaurants with picture menus and you’ll never have to wonder what you’re eating.
2. Pay with way more money than it costs
The store owner probably said the price of that authentic tribal necklace was ‘8 pesos’ but they may have said ’80 pesos’. If you can’t calculate the conversion and relative worth, you may not be giving them enough money. The safe approach is to hand over 500 pesos. The weird denominations of coins and colorful money you’ll get back as change make great gifts for nieces and nephews.
Pro Tip: Still unsure how much to fork over? Hold out money in your hand and let them pick out how much they feel is accurate. They probably look trustworthy.
3. Learn directions by sign language
Standing on a corner with a map is international sign for “I’m on my way to a museum, but walking in the wrong direction.” In the event some well-meaning Spanish-speaker tries to help you, it’s important to know directional sign language. A tomahawk, chopping motion means continue down this street for two blocks. A sweeping motion which tales off to the left means take a left turn in one block. A closed fist with an extended middle finger indicates they want you to state your destination again in English, slower and much louder.
4. Stay motivated
Trying to buy a ticket for a bus tour requires asking questions, and using the future participle, which you probably don’t even know in English. Ugh. Also what’s so special about these Incan ruins anyway? On the other hand, when it’s your meal after your stomach got rocked by that virus from using tap water to brush your teeth or something, you’re really hungry, and you’re not going to stop speaking until they set something in front of you. Keep this level of motivation you might even snatch up a masters in Spanish Literature by the end of your trip.
Pro Tip: Snorkels are great for looking at colorful fish, but can be just as effective in the shower to prevent accidentally drinking questionable water.
5. Learn this one phrase
Common wisdom says you can go pretty far learning simple expressions like, “please”, “thank you”, and “I’m sorry”, but why learn three when this one expression supplements all three: “Tenemos dinero.” This simple phrase will get you in anywhere from fancy hotels, to colorful Sunday markets, and even to raucous sporting events called Futbol matches (probably named after the NFL).
I hope this has been informative, and on your next trip abroad be sure use all that extra memory you could have wasted on another language for remembering your new adventures!