Carefree Tourist or Immigrant in Latin America - How To Experience the Best of Latin America

Carefree Tourist or Immigrant in Latin America - How To Experience the Best of Latin America

With only a small amount of planning, a trip to Latin America can be one of the most satisfying adventures of your life. If you don’t believe me, look at the number of expat blogs that exist for people who left their home country for a Latin American paradise. 

Reinvent Your Lifestyle 

Imagine that suddenly everything you normally do in your life costs half the time and money. That is what being in a Latin American country can feel like. The prices are about 50% less just about anywhere. They will be even lower than that in rural areas. Now consider having someone take care of just about any need you can imagine for $5USD - $15USD a day. The minimum wage in most areas of Latin America is $.50 a day. Most people will not work for that, but many will work for $5USD - $15USD a day. Once you realize that doctors, lawyers, and professors make only about $40 a day, then it is easy to see how other skills would come at an equally disproportionate price compared to the United States.

Visiting or living in a foreign country is always an adjustment. Those savings do not come without adaptations on your part. Fortunately, the more concessions you are willing to make in Latin America, the greater the savings and satisfactions.

An Insensitive Explorer

For example: if you act like there is something wrong with people who do not speak English you will find a bilingual English/Spanish speaking guide quickly. That guide will take you to all the most expensive places where the proprietors cater to English speakers. Not only will the prices you pay reflect your Anglicized expectations but your experiences will be whitewashed to accommodate your unspoken demands. 

An Inquisitive Wayfarer

However, if instead you carry a dictionary around so that you can follow some of what is going on, you show respect. Latin American’s are extremely polite and generally, highly respectful of each other. If you make every attempt to communicate with your others, you will attract a guide who finds you charming. He or she will take you to local “hot spots.” These will be places where the food is original and priced for the native residents. You will be showered with local music. The sights, sounds, smells, touch, and tastes will the authentic to the place you are visiting. The service will be outstanding and with genuine care and kindness. Your experience will be how people in the area really live and what they pay for that encounter. If your guide wants to meet the next day, say “Yes!” and you might find a tailor who will make you a 100% fine wool suit worth $1,500-$3,000USD for about $210USD or hand-woven 100% silk scarf worth $600USD for $35USD. The respectful visitor is treated like royalty – honestly. 


When in Latin America, do not be afraid to look like a tourist. There will be an abundance of people on hand to help you. Pick one that is friendly, but a little shy. Use your dictionary. Be patient and respectful. Don’t complain about the lack of toilet paper, pack napkins before leaving home. Don’t complain about the lack of A/C, sit back and breathe in the sights and sounds. Be willing to take anything – a bit of anything. Some of it can be really hot, but try it anyway. When you step into Latin America as a humble student of life, the adventure has just begun. Have fun!

Written by 2Casa Expert:  Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie, author, speaker, and social scientist, is author of Empowering Spanish Speakers and other books to help understand the Latino culture. She has a BS and MS in business and an EdS and PhD in bilingual and special education and sociocultural studies. She lives in a native village in Central Mexico where she researches the Mexican culture and remodels a campesino home.