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How Can I Build Intercultural Relationships in Latin America?

December 31, 2018 Global Basecamps

Category South America

In intercultural relationship building, there are few hard and fast rules that will apply everywhere. While specifics will vary (sometimes greatly!) region by region, there are some concepts that can be very helpful in learning how to interact well with other cultures. The areas where Global Basecamps’ tours visit are often more traditional and conservative, presenting a more authentic travel experience and calling for cultural sensitivity. Read on for some tips on intercultural relationship building with a focus on Latin America, be they our trips to Costa Rica, Patagonia tours, or a Mexico vacation.


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Seek out some general resources that cover the areas you’ll be visiting before your trip. Reputable travel guidebooks can be a great place to start, as can travel websites dedicated to cultural etiquette for Latin America and beyond. As you research, consider learning about both the precolonial and colonial populations and their histories; doing so will add greatly to your experience and understanding.

Start PlanningLearn some basic language and nonverbal communication skills of your destination, including greetings and departures, thanks and other formalities. Getting your hands on some learning resources (audio or online language programs, lessons at a language school, etc.) is a must - arriving with even just foundational language skills in your destination country is miles ahead of showing up without them. Local language schools can be a great resource to both learn language skills, as well as possibly meet people from the region you’ll be visiting. Even better: if you have a friend who is from the place you’re headed for, speak with them! Making good first impressions whatever the occasion is key to making genuine connections with the local people. Learning greetings, especially formal ones that can be used no matter who you are meeting, is a great place to start! Also, learning how to make amends with “pardon me” and similar sayings is essential to keep things peaceful when misunderstandings - an inevitable part of cross-cultural interactions - arise.

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Understand that there are different dialects of Spanish that vary across regions. Learn more here about how different countries and areas in Latin American and the Caribbean have their own vocabularies of Spanish. Various travel publication companies’ travel books almost always have a section on local language basics - know before you go!

Dress for the occasion. Simple and modest clothing is best in Latin America for whatever the setting. The good news? The lightweight, versatile clothing we bring along for travel and trekking can often be dressed up or down, good for both keeping us comfortable on the trail and at the ruins, or at a cathedral and out on the town. Collared shirts and long pants are the answer, as t-shirts and shorts are reserved for children or only the most informal of settings.

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Don’t get overwhelmed! Intercultural relationship building is one of the most enriching things we can do in our lives, and is often acknowledged as one of the most meaningful parts of international travel. Challenging as it can be, lean into it with courage!We’re excited to serve you in the process of planning your trip and getting to know other parts of the world and its cultures! Get in touch with us to start planning your Latin American adventure.

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Tags: South America