You can already taste the sweet salt water on your tongue – you don’t care that it’s in your nose.

The sun is beating down on your back.

You’re already frothing at the thought of these uncrowded, world class waves.

But while you’re itching in your seat in anticipation of this tropical getaway, just having hit the “book now” button on your computer screen, you can’t help but think of the first thing you’ll do when the day finally comes…….

“Habla usted Ingles?”

There is one simple thing that can heavily impact your experience while embarking on your next surf trip through the tropical waters of South or Central America: learning the language!

Now, I’m not saying that you need to download an extensive language course to cram into a couple of weeks, but obtaining an understanding of at least a few basic Spanish phrases could be incredibly influential to your travel experience as a whole. Not only does that help you to get to meet and talk to some of the locals in the area you’re exploring, and help you to explore it safely, but it deepens your respect and appreciation of the culture that you’ve chosen to immerse yourself in for your vacation, whether it be a family surf vacation, a solo surf tour, or just a spontaneous backpacking expedition.

To give you a head start on your next getaway, here are some bare essentials to give you some footing, from greetings to vocab to questions:

Good morning – “Buenos dias”

Good afternoon – “Buenas tardes”

Good evening – “Buenas noches”

“Como esta” offers a friendly “How are you?” to which your kind response (if asked in return) may be “Bien, gracias.” (Good, thank you).

With this small talk in mind, it is important to never, ever forget your manners! You are a guest, so to speak, traveling through another country, so it should be easy to at least remember to always add “please” and “thank you” into a conversation, or “Por favor” and “Gracias.”

Since you are traveling, it’s obviously incredibly important to know where you are and where you are going, so a basic question would be to ask: “Where is the…?” which would simply translate to “Donde esta el/la…?” This question will likely end in “banos” (bathrooms), “reastaurantes” (restaurants), or “playa” (beach), all of which are undeniably locations that you’ll be grateful to learn the whereabouts of if you are unsure yourself.

Other useful questions when out and about could be:
What time is it? – “Que hora es?”

How much does it cost? – “Cuanto Cuesta?”

Do you have..? – “Tiene…?”

These simple phrases are easy enough to memorize or even write down on an index card to keep in your pocket throughout your travels, but are all worth knowing so that your first and only phrase to leave a lasting impression isnot merely: “Habla usted Ingles?” (Do you speak English?)

You’ll get a full taste of the culture of your vacation destination if you use a few of these phrases to help you out, and it will make your trip well worth the while. And who knows, maybe a few of these locals will help you find a super secret surf spot!

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