Luckily, it’s pretty damn easy to dress well in Latin America. You really don’t need much. This isn’t New York City or Los Angeles. A little effort goes a long way here.
The custom suit might even be too much. For most gringos, your goal should simply be to NOT look like this:
I’ve rocked the goofy gringo look before, too.
This is the quintessential gringo look while traveling around Latin America. You’ve got the cargo shots, the flip-flops, and a soccer jersey or tank top.
If you’ve spent enough time in the region, you’ll come to recognize this look from a mile away. You know it when you’ve seen it. The goofy gringo travels all over Latin America – often in herds.
Now, rocking this attire while enjoying some time at the beach or even doing a little tourism in a warm city is perfectly fine.
The problem is gringos have taken this relaxed attire a little too far. Nowadays, you’ll see dudes rolling around major cities like Bogota, Colombia or Lima, Peru looking like scrubs.
Whereas locals are in pants and a button-down, some even in a suit, the gringo is strolling around like he’s at the beach in cities of 10+ million people. Cities that are the capital of said counties filled with business people and hard workers.
It’s not a good look. Unsurprisingly, many Latinos think gringos are complete and utter slobs.
Think about it. If people from different countries came to your city by the thousands and every single time you see one of them on the streets they look like they’re hungover and headed to the beach, you wouldn’t hold a high opinion of them, either.
Instead of rolling around looking like a slob, follow a few of these rules and you’ll soon be seen as the best-dressed gringo many a Latino has ever seen:
Wear Pants: Seriously, if you wear pants in public, locals in Latin America will give you more respect. They’ve seen enough of the cargo shorts and swimming trunks from foreigners. A decent pair of jeans during the day is all you need to impress.
No Flip-Flops: First off, flip-flops are horrible for your feet and ankles. Second, they look sloppy unless you’re going to the beach. I’ll never understand why gringos walk around in flip-flops so damn much. Just don’t do it unless you’re at the beach or pool.
Normal T-Shirts: Tank tops, soccer jerseys, and those weird “hippy clothing shirt” things are typical for the traveling gringo to roll around in while traveling in Latin America. Instead, just wear a normal v-neck or henley t-shirt in a basic color during the day.
Common sighting in Peru.
Basically, you want to look like you would back home. Think about how you would dress if you went to the library while at university or the coffee shop with a friend. Think how you would dress for a first date back home.
Just dress normally. Don’t come down to Latin America and become a scrub just because you’re a few miles away from home. That type of effort and attitudes gives gringos a bad name all over the region.
A Gringo’s Guide to Dressing Better, Style, and Fashion in Latin America
Now, we’re getting to the good stuff. If you want specific style advice while traveling Latin America, here it is.
Below you’ll find what you need to know about dressing well in Latin America and standing out from the gringo crowd in a good way.
While I’m no fashion blogger, here’s a little bit of specific advice about fashion in Latin America and how the average gringo can dress better:
Shoes For Travelers
They say shoes make a man and I cannot disagree. Just by not wearing flip-flops, you separate yourself from the gringo herd.
But there’s more to it than that.
If you want to look damn good while you’re living and traveling in Latin America, here’s what shoes and footwear I recommend:
Sperry Sneakers: I’ve worn this pair of Sperry’s for years. I think I’ve had three different pairs. Latin girls love them for some reason and I regularly get compliments on them, which is odd to me – as they’re a basic pair of shoes. These are my daytime shoes. I wear them to coffee shops, co-working spaces, and more. They look good with jeans.
Thursday Boot Company: I’ve worn this pair of boots by Thursday Boot Company for the past few years. They look impressive with a pair of dark jeans or nice travel pants. Plus, they’re durable as hell. One pair will last a couple years when properly shined every couple weeks while living in Latin America. Oh, and you’ll get compliments on them. Trust me.
Jeans and Travel Pants
You should get used to wearing pants while traveling in Latin America. Even when it’s hot as Hades outside, Latinos will wear pants. Hell, even when you start sweating the minute you step outside, people in Latin America will still wear pants.
It’s the culture. Unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb, and not in a good way, you’ll want to wear jeans or pants most of the time while living in the region.
Here are a few of my favorite jeans and travel pants:
Outlier Slim Dungarees: These are the best pair of travel pants I’ve ever seen, worn, or even heard of. They’re seriously awesome. Pricey, but awesome. I found them ideal for walking around during the day in Latin America, as they’re somewhat lightweight and you don’t get overheated.
Hudson Jeans: I’m a huge fan of Hudson Men’s Jeans, especially the darker washes. They look great while on a date or partying at night and match well with t-shirts and button-down. You can even dress them up with a blazer and look pretty damn stylish.
T-Shirts, V-Neck, Henleys
It’s super easy to dress better than the average gringo in Latin America during the daytime. Just wear a normal looking t-shirt, v-neck, or short-sleeve henley. Most travelers wear tank tops or scraggly soccer jerseys all day.
So, let’s dive in. A few of my favorite travel t-shirts include:
prAna Men’s V-Neck: For those who don’t like merino wool, the prAna men’s v-neck is the best travel t-shirt I’ve found. This shirt looks damn good. After wearing my heather grey prAna v-neck for years, I can attest to the style and durability of their products. Highly recommended.
Woolly Clothing Merino Wool Short Sleeve Henley: I have three of these merino wool travel shirts. Currently, I don’t travel with any other “t-shirts” while on the road. The Woolly Clothing Merino Wool Short Sleeve Henley looks fantastic and offers numerous benefits for travelers. I can’t recommend this product enough.
Rocking that short sleeve henley in Cali, Colombia.
Generally, Latin America is a fairly warm region. You really don’t need too many long sleeve shirts unless you plan to go hiking in cooler regions often.
As such, I typically only bring one long sleeve shirt with me while traveling Latin America. I recommend you do the same. No reason to overpack. Packing light is always packing tight.
Here’s my favorite:
Woolly Clothing Merino Wool Long Sleeve Henley: I’ve been wearing this long-sleeve henley all winter and it’s been fantastic. The Woolly Clothing Merino Wool Long Sleeve Henley is warm and it looks damn good. If you’re looking for one long sleeve shirt to pack, this should be the one.
I’ve met more than a few gringos who didn’t have a single button down in their backpack while traveling around Latin America. Only t-shirts and tank-tops. That’s fine and dandy, but not exactly ideal when trying to look stylish.
Plus, in many cities throughout the region, you’re not getting into a decent nightclub without at least a button down shirt on. T-shirts and sneakers aren’t flying at Lima Bar in Miraflores or Hotel V in Zona T.
Now, the style of button down you wear is a little more varied than other clothing items. The type of dress shirts you wear will be determined by your age, physique, hair color, skin color, and more.
So, it’s a bit difficult to give specific examples of dress shirts. But I’ll do my best.
Generally, one-color shirts or pattern shirts fair well in Latin America. Think sharp business attire or full-on Cuban drug dealer swag.
I often just rock a slim-fit white dress shirt when partying in Latin America. Just something basic like this:
It’s essential to unbutton as many buttons as possible.
Upper-class Latinos often like to rock one-color dress shirts that have a business or professional vibe. Mimicking that style tends to work damn well and looks great, especially in nightclubs.
The Cuban drug dealer look is also popular in Latin America. What do I mean by the Cuban drug dealer look? Well, it’s generally chino pants and a printed button-down shirt. Occasionally, they’ll rock a blazer.
Think about what Pitbull would wear during a Miami winter. In my mind, it’s something like this:
Cuban Drug Dealer 101.
Printer dress shirts like the one above fair well in Latin America, especially when mixed with a clashing color of paints. For example, you wouldn’t wear that shirt with jeans. You’d rock chino pants with it.
Here are a few other buttons downs that would look good in Latin America:
In many Latin American locales, you won’t have any need for jackets, blazers, or suits. In other places like Bogota, Colombia, some nicer clothing really comes in handy from time to time.
While I won’t give any specific blazer recommendations, as that’s too specific to the individual, I will say that military-style jackets seem to get a great reception here. I rarely bring a jacket, but when I do it usually looks like this:
Hard to see it.
I don’t see a ton of leather jackets in Latin America. Honestly, they just don’t seem to popular here. I can’t say I’d recommend leather down here.
You can definitely rock necklaces and earrings down here, too. Although, I’d say the watch and bracelet combo is by far the best way to go.
Oh, and sunglasses are a must. I usually just buy a knock-off pair of aviators from a street vendor for $5-6 USD when I arrive. No reason to spend big bucks on them, as they’ll probably get lost while you travel.
I’ve gotten more hate for wearing basketball shorts to the gym than any other fashion faux pas in Latin America. Seriously, I’ve found Latinos absolutely hate baggy basketball shorts with a passion.
I even had a girl offer to take me shopping for proper gym clothing, as she was so turned off by my Jordan shorts and high-top Nike shoes.
Many people in gyms throughout Latin America dress pretty well. Stylish track pants are common and name brands are always found. This is especially true in nice gyms, like Smart Fit or Body Tech.
Personally, I can’t be bothered to overpack on fancy gym clothes, but I did ditch the baggy basketball shorts and cutoff t-shirts.
In Cali, Colombia. Boardshorts still a little too baggy, but I’ll live.
These days I travel light, so a pair of trainers, one merino wool tank top, and a few pairs of board shorts is all I rock these days.
Here are a few gym attire recommendations for Latin America:
Chuck Taylors: These are ideal gym shoes while traveling because they don’t take up a lot of space in your luggage. Plus, Chuck Taylor shoes are stylish in the gym. Couldn’t recommend these enough.
Boardshorts: While boardshorts are not as stylish as track pants in the gym and look a little gringo beach bum, the benefits far outweigh the downsides. Boardshorts from brands like O’Neill look great and can be worn in the gym, to swim, and more.
Merino Wool Tank Top: I’m wearing a merino wool tank top in the photo above. It looks great in the gym and holds up during a good sweat. I love the Woolly Clothing tank-top and highly recommend it.
Going the Extra Mile: Getting Custom Clothes Made in Latin America
Last, but not least – I want to talk about one simple way to truly take your style to the next level in Latin America and back home.
What’s that? Getting custom clothing made while traveling.
Now, this may be above your pay grade or interest level, but it’s still worth talking about. In Latin America, you can get custom dress shirts, blazers, and suits made for rock bottom prices.
You just have to know where to look and how to find the high-quality craftsmanship.
I’m certainly no expert in this regard, but many of my buddies have gotten custom suits, blazers, and shirts made for pennies on the dollar compared to back home.
The quality is impeccable and the fit unbeatable. You can get fully customized suits created for $200-400 USD in places like Bogota, Colombia.
A custom cut dress shirt, made from a material you selected out of hundreds, only costs anywhere from $40-80 USD.
Stunning blazers handcrafted to your specific size often only cost $120-150.
If you’re into style and fashion, consider getting custom clothing made in Latin America. You’ll find prices 50-80% cheaper than back home and the quality is comparable.
Just make sure you search for custom clothing in big cities known as financial capitals of their country. Things Bogota, Colombia or Mexico City.
Also, remember that a good tailor isn’t going to turn around your suit or shirts in one weeks time. You’ll usually need to give them 2-3 weeks to finish your clothing, although a little bribery goes a long way here.
A Gringo’s Guide to Fashion in Latin America
Whew, that was a long one. But I wanted this post to be thorough. I wanted to give you an idea of exactly how to dress while traveling around Latin America.
I want my fellow gringos to look damn good.
Just remember – I’m no fashion blogger. I’m just a dude traveling around who puts an effort into not looking like a slob.
It’s pretty easy.
Drop the cargo shorts, flip-flops, and tank-tops. Just wear clothing like you do when you’re trying to look presentable back home and then add in a little Cuban drug dealer swag.
It’s damn near epidemic. You can spot em’ from a mile away. The cargo shorts. The flip-flops. Spending half their vacation swiping Tinder and the other snapping Instagram tourist shots to impress ugly thots.
The goofy gringo has invaded Latin America.
And the trend isn’t going to change.
With the advent of dirt cheap flights, Airbnb apartment rentals, and online dating, the hordes of horny autists aren’t going anywhere.
Normally, I wouldn’t be mad. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And all that good shit. But I’ve had it up to here with these goofy chodes giving gringos a bad name.
Y’all are messing up my rep with every cargo short’d step.
Gringos wear this in the cities, too.
What Happens When Goofy Gringos Invade?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining here. Well, maybe a little.
But, y’all aren’t really messing with my lifestyle. It’s easy to separate yourself from the herd. I can combat the bad rep and stereotypes pretty easily these days. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse, but usually manageable.
This is for your own good.
What happens when goofy gringos hit a city? Well, they practically destroy it. Just look at places like Cartagena, Medellin, or Bogota.
You can’t even walk around Cartagena without being pestered. Man, you can’t even swim in the ocean without some chode driving by in a jet ski trying to sell you a ride. And you sure as hell can’t hit on a girl without wondering if she’s a hooker.
Why? Because goofy gringos put up with the incessant bullshit. Hell, some even encourage it.
Stop being a pansy. If someone’s bothering you in the third world, tell them to screw off. Sternly. Be an arse.
If every girl you’re chatting with might be a hooker, dating and mating get old pretty quick. Trust me. But some dudes just put up with it. Like it’s normal.
It’s not. It doesn’t have to be. You’re a chump. A mark.
Next, there’s one more thing to do. Just learn a little of the local language.
If you’re going to Colombia or Peru, a little Spanish ability will go a long way. You don’t have to be fluent. I’m certainly not, but being able to hold a conversation will definitely help you navigate the murky waters found in Latin America.
You’ll keep yourself a little safer, develop better connections with locals, and generally just enjoy things a little more in Latin America – if you speak Spanish.
Luckily, that’s easier than ever before. Nowadays, you can study Spanish from the comfort of your home before you hit the road.
With unlimited online personalized Spanish lessons and professional tutors, BaseLang is the only thing you need to pick up a little Español before you head down to Latin America.
I’ll never forget my first taste of violence in Latin America.
Spending some time in a city prominently featured on the world’s most dangerous cities list, I decided to head down to the park at dusk.
A brutal hangover had set in from the night before and another night of boozing was on the horizon. A little exercise was needed to get the blood flowing. I wanted to do a few pull-ups and push-ups.
Sadly, that never happened.
Before I knew it, five guys with prison-style shanks had my buddy and I surrounded in front of a soccer goal at the park. They were yelling in Spanish and I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on.
Apparently, they wanted cell phones and wallets but ended up settling for basketball shorts and sneakers.
We weren’t smart enough to stay inside at night while visiting San Salvador, but at least we knew enough to leave the smartphones back at the hotel.
Once back in the hotel, I vowed never to visit another place prominently featured on the world’s most dangerous city list.
Fake News! Why the World’s Most Dangerous Cities List is Pure Propaganda
When I first saw the list, I couldn’t help but laugh. I began scanning the 50 cities for places I’d been and recalling interesting encounters and experiences.
But my eyes kept darting back to the #1 spot…
Los Cabos, Mexico is the most dangerous city in the world.
That can’t be right. Los Cabos, Mexico is home to Cabo San Lucas, a well-known vacation spot for Americans and Canadians.
Nearly two million tourists visit Los Cabos every single year!
Why on earth would tourists frequent the most dangerous city in the world? That just doesn’t make sense to me.
I’m damn near an abject degenerate with a taste for adventure, but I’m not planning to head back to any of the top-10 most dangerous cities in the world anytime soon, especially after my experiences in San Salvador.
Why would someone knowingly bring their families to the most dangerous city in the world?
Well, some wouldn’t. And they haven’t been coming to Cabo nearly as much. Tourism has plummeted in Cabo San Lucas over the last six months.
First, the U.S. State Department issued a warning telling tourists to stay clear of the region. Overnight the city lost nearly 20% of their tourism dollars.
Nearly 35,000 hotel room nights were canceled after the warning was issued (Source).
Next thing you knew, the world’s most dangerous cities list claimed Los Cabos was the most dangerous city in the world.
It’s not hard to surmise tourism is about to plummet even further in the area. What once was expected to completely replace Mazatlan, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta – may now be replaced, too.
But, is Los Cabos actually the most dangerous city in the world? Without even visiting, I want to state this clearly…
While there’s a multitude of reasons why, they’re practically irrelevant. You only need to know one thing when assessing the actual threat of danger in Los Cabos compared to other vacation spots.
Anywhere White Women Go Isn’t That Dangerous
I said it. Not even hating, but anywhere that American white women go on vacation in droves just isn’t that dangerous. It just can’t be.
Don’t believe me. That’s fine. You don’t have to.
But do this for me…
Get on Instagram and type into “Cabo San Lucas” into the location filter. Then scroll through the photos.
Who is traveling in Los Cabos right now? White women. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them, all taking weekend or week-long trips to the beach in Los Cabos to snap Instagram selfies.
If the blonde California bombshell who can’t speak a lick of Spanish stays safe while getting “white girl wasted” all week in Cabo, then I’m forced to believe this isn’t actually the most dangerous city in the world.
Sure, it’s anecdotal, but you won’t see any “white girl wasted-ness” on Instagram in cities like Caracas, Venezuela.
Gang Violence Vs. Being a Target
The situation in Mexico seems to be getting worse with each passing year. Ever since El Chapo was taken out, the various drug cartels have been at war with one and other.
Things have spiraled out of hand and many tourists and digital nomads alike have begun avoiding the country, especially certain areas.
But is Mexico really that dangerous for the average gringo looking to enjoy a little fun in the sun?
I’d suspect not and I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I’ll be traveling Mexico’s Pacific coast for the better part of 2018.
Why? Because after spending time in a number of cities on this list, I understand there’s a difference between gang members killing each other in certain areas and criminals targeting tourists and locals throughout the whole city.
The vast majority of crime in Mexico seems to be cartel on cartel violence. While there have been times when the crime has spilled over into tourist areas, the country generally does a good job of keeping things separated.
While we Americans hear about problems in Mexico all the time, it must be noted that nearly 35 million foreign tourists visit the country every year (Source).
That’s over five times more than any other country in Latin America! The reason we hear about all the issues in Mexico more than anywhere else is proximity and sheer numbers.
More Americans go to Mexico than anywhere else. Plus, Mexico has 12 cities on the list. So, the concerns many have are warranted.
But crime against tourists doesn’t seem to be increasing in Mexico. The vast majority of the crime is still drug war violence between the cartels.
This is different from other areas on the list. From what I’ve heard, places in Venezuela and Brazil do a far worse job of separating drug violence and normal civilian life.
Cuando somos pandilleros, no hay ninguna problemas de la criminalidad.
Peace in the Middle East and Africa?
The world’s most dangerous cities list excludes war zones, which makes it a little more difficult to compare and contrast areas.
This means the researchers do a far better job of combing through murder rates and statistics in Latin America, as their native language is Spanish.
What does this mean for intrepid travelers? Well, it basically means that violence levels in Latin America will be more accurately reported than other regions around the world, especially Africa and the Middle East.
Yeah, that’s common sense. I get it.
While Venezuela is essentially a war zone these days, most cities in Latin America are still quite livable, even if they made the list.
For example, you’re far better off living in Cali, Colombia or Mazatlan, Mexico than you would be in a number of African countries that didn’t make the list.
I’m confident many cities that made the list are safer than African countries like Somalia, Libya, Congo, and more (Source).
Furthermore, you’re far better off in Latin America than many a city in Iraq or Syria. Sure, many of these places are war zones.
But these places have been war zones for going on a decade. At a certain point, it’s no longer a war zone and just how life is in certain places.
My point? While Latin America is overwhelmingly featured on this list, hold 42 out of the top 50 spots, that doesn’t necessarily mean the region is the worst in the world.
It means the statistics are actually getting reported in many Latin American countries, like Mexico and Brazil.
Sure, there’s danger in many Latin American locales, but it’s also pretty easy to spot and stay away from in my experiences.
Interesting Tidbits For Travelers in Latin America
For Latin American traveler junkies, the list brings some interesting tidbits of information. I anxiously began scanning the interwebs after looking at the world’s most dangerous cities list for 2018.
It seems a few spots I had my eyes on may have opened up. Plus, I noticed a few other things:
Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico Dominate
And not in a good way, either! It’s clear that Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico are the three most dangerous countries in the regions – and it’s not even close elsewhere.
Brazil seems to be in a downward spiral. Home to the most cities on the world’s most dangerous cities list with 16 places, Brazil has become more and more dangerous the last few years thanks to economic problems and political scandals.
Things seem to have gotten especially bad in northern Brazil, although I’m not sure why.
Mexico comes in at the second spot here with 12 cities on the list. Nearly all of Mexico’s violence is centered around drug smuggling routes in along the Pacific coast and near the border with the U.S.A.
Venezuela only has five cities on the list, however, that’s not entirely accurate. The situation has gotten so dire in Venezuela that most places aren’t reporting murder statistics any longer.
Even the crime rates from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, should be taken with a grain of salt. Most consider Caracas to be the most dangerous and violent city in the world that’s not a war zone.
Colombia Cleaned Up Its Act
With only three cities on the list, Colombia has seemingly cleaned up its act as of late. Medellin, Colombia isn’t even on the list any longer and it used to be the most dangerous city in the world.
Cali, Colombia and it’s suburb of Palmira did make the list, but I can personally attest to improving safety levels in Cali after spending a few months there last year.
Just a gringo in the mean streets of Cali, Colombia.
Most of the crime in Cali, Colombia is restricted to certain barrios. If you stay in nicer neighborhoods like Granada or El Penon, you shouldn’t have any issues in this city. Knock on wood, but I certainly didn’t. – P.S: Read more here:
In a surpirsing turn of events, Honduras may be improving. The country used to feature two of the top-5 most dangerous cities in the world year-in and year-out, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.
Both cities have become markedly safer over the last year, as they come in at numbers 35 and 36 respectively on this list.
What’s caused the change in Honduras?
Apparently, the President invested large sums of money (much of it U.S. aid dollars) into a maximum security prison that gangs couldn’t break in and out of. He then began rounding up the worse criminals in Honduras and throwing them into this maximum security prison.
In a matter of months, the country’s murder rates were seemingly cut in half. Now, that’s second-hand knowledge on my part. Don’t judge me.
But if the stats are true, then they seem to speak for themselves. Honduras is becoming safer and safer with each passing year.
If the trend improves, I’ll be headed to Honduras sometime soon to check out some Mayan Ruins and do a little pioneering.
Caribbean Getting Worse
It’s always surprising to see Caribbean cities make the list. Cut off from drug running routes, you wouldn’t expect these small island nations to have huge violent crime problems.
But things seem to be getting worse. Kingston, Jamaica is rapidly rising on the world most dangerous cities list.
Coming in at number 16 this year, Kingston seems to one of the more dangerous cities on the list for tourists. From my perspective, this isn’t a Los Cabos situation – where the tourists are shielded from the actual violence. Kingston can get dangerous quick.
San Juan, Puerto Rico also made an appearance on the list for the first time in recent memory. The hurricane issues may have something to do with it, or the country’s economic struggles have started to take a toll on safety.
Fake News! Why the World’s Most Dangerous Cities List is Pure Propaganda
Alright, so pure propaganda might be a little strong. But there’s no denying a few things about this list just aren’t right.
Sure, Latin America is decidedly more dangerous than many places in the U.S. and Europe, but Cabo San Lucas is not the most dangerous city in the world.
Point. Blank. Period.
It’s just not. I strongly believe tourists can still visit Los Cabos without any issues in 2018.
Furthermore, I’d be willing to bet my life that you’re far safer in many Latin American countries and cities on this list than you’d be in a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Before we dive into my BaseLang review, I’ve got to be honest. I traveled at least two full years in Latin America without making any effort to learn some Spanish.
I was that gringo. The dude rolling up to chicks at the bar mumbling, “Hablas ingles?” to any girl that batted her big brown eyes at me.
I was the guy pointing at the menu when the waiter returned and stumbling to say, “Quiero eso.”
You know the dude I’m talking about if you’ve been in Latin America for more than a month or two. Every sentence starts with “Quiero” or “Estoy” because that’s about the extent of verbs found in his Spanish vocabulary.
Looking back on those times, it’s embarrassing. I was living in Spanish-speaking countries for years on end and hadn’t taken a minute to study Spanish since high school.
I’d gotten tired of having the same elementary school conversations about the exact same topics – time and time, again. I knew if I was going to spend a little more time in Latin America, I’d need to learn a little Spanish.
Then I heard about BaseLang from a buddy living in Colombia. His Spanish speaking ability had gone from complete garbage to conversational in a little under three months.
We were sitting at the bar catching up and he began rattling off a little Espanol with the waitress. She was damn cute, laughing, and giving him the naughtiest smile. A little jealousy began to stir inside me.
When she left, I looked at him perplexed, “When did you learn Spanish?”
He chuckled and instantly began hyping BaseLang up to epic proportions. He claimed the service was the absolute best way to learn Spanish.
Point. Blank. Period.
It didn’t take long before I was sold. I typed “BaseLang” into the notepad on my phone and made a mental note to sign up as soon as possible.
What is BaseLang?
Alright, let’s talk a little bit about what BaseLang is and how the service works.
BaseLang is a service that offers unlimited one-on-one online Spanish tutoring lessons with professional teachers – for one low monthly price.
You pay $129 USD for a month of BaseLang and you can take as many 30-minute lessons as you want from Spanish teachers, who are usually from Venezuela.
There are hundreds of BaseLang teachers working with the service right now, so you can find lessons at any time of the day. BaseLang classes are available from 6 am to midnight U.S. Eastern time.
The service offers a custom-made curriculum that’s been created to “hack” learning the romance language. BaseLang takes out all the fluff and starts teaching you how to have real Spanish conversations from the first day.
Due to the unique structure of BaseLang, the service is ideal for beginners and advanced Spanish speakers. The curriculum features 10 levels and hundreds of lessons.
To begin, the teachers test your Spanish speaking ability and then place you in the proper level. Then you’re off to the races.
You schedule classes each day and it’s as simple as turning on your Zoom application at the right time. Your BaseLang teacher will be waiting for you to begin.
Spanish speakers in Iquitos, Peru.
My Review of BaseLang
I wouldn’t be writing this BaseLang review if I didn’t have such a great experience with this company. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have ever learned much Spanish without the service.
See, some people do great with self-study programs like Rocket Spanish or Pimsleur. Programs and audio courses can work well, especially for certain types of people, especially when just starting to learn.
Sadly, that’s not me. Hell, I even tried Rosetta Stone for a bit, but just got so bored with the program. Too much vocabulary and not enough actual conversations.
Once my buddy told me about BaseLang, I was excited. Unlimited individual lessons for one low monthly price with professional teachers from Venezuela sounded like a great deal.
I went back to the United States after my trip to Colombia and instantly signed up. My Spanish was complete trash, but I had some Spanish speaking ability and was hoping I could pick things up quickly.
I wanted to study for a few months before making my triumphant return to Latin America, as a stunningly handsome gringo with great Spanish speaking abilities.
Thanks to BaseLang, at least half of my goal came true.
I started taking lessons for one hour a day my first month with BaseLang. A few teachers tested my Spanish level and I was placed in the second level on the BaseLang curriculum.
After a few weeks of studying, I found one teacher I really enjoyed taking lessons with and began booking all my lessons with him.
Wilver was a Spanish professor from a smaller city in Venezuela. I loved how he was strict with pronunciation. Anytime my accent was off or my annunciation was incorrect, he immediately corrected me.
He was fluent in English, too – which allowed him to explain difficult concepts, like por vs. para, with ease.
Plus, he was just a cool dude to chat with in English or Spanish. We chopped it up about Venezuela, Colombia, girls, beaches, traveling, and even talked a little about hunting, too.
In a month of studying with Wilver, I learned to speak more Spanish than nearly two years traveling around and having Google Translate conversations on What’s App.
After my second month of studying with BaseLang, I headed back to Colombia. I met up with some old Colombian friends in Bogota and they were baffled.
The last time they saw me I could barely mumble “Hola, como estas?” without sounding super gringo.
Now, I was having conversations in Spanish with ease.
Upon my return to Colombia, I instantly noticed how comfortable I felt talking and listening in Spanish. Conversations that used to leave me saying, “Que?” weren’t a problem any longer.
I was understanding things I never had before and holding real conversations. I was actually speaking and understanding Latin American Spanish. Soon, I started enjoying communicating in the native tongue and speaking Spanish became a lot of fun.
BaseLang Review: The Positives
Enough with my experiences, let’s get into the rice and beans of this BaseLang review. Here are just a few of the things I loved about BaseLang:
You Will Learn Spanish
The most important thing about BaseLang is…
If you study Spanish with BaseLang teachers for 20-30 hours a month for 3-4 months, you’ll be baffled by how well you speak Spanish after.
If you truly want to learn Spanish and you have time and energy to dedicate to studying, BaseLang is the first place I’d start.
I’m not trying to hype the service up or anything. I just know from personal experience that you will greatly improve your Spanish speaking abilities if you use BaseLang consistently.
My Spanish got 10X better while studying with BaseLang, and I have two other buddies who have used the service with great success, too.
One of the reasons BaseLang works so well is the teachers. Like Wilver, there are many amazing teachers on BaseLang.
While Venezuela’s economic situation is in shambles right now, some of the great people in the country have been forced to look online for work.
This has led to many university-educated, bilingual Venezuelans working for BaseLang. I’ve had teachers who have degrees from the United States and university professors teaching me Spanish with this service.
Heck, some of these individuals used to teach Spanish lessons in Venezuela, when the country had a thriving tourism industry.
Now, you do have to search around and test out what Spanish teachers work well for you. Some are certainly better than others.
But overall, I’ve been thrilled with the level of instruction most BaseLang teachers provide.
Now, I’m no Spanish language curriculum expert here, but I was pleasantly surprised with all the materials provided by BaseLang.
Inside the program, you’ll find 10 different levels. Each level has around 20-30 different lessons inside.
Inside each lesson, you’ll find slides that detail the full lesson. Most lessons are anywhere from 5-50 slides long. It all depends on the lesson and what’s presented in the material.
In certain lessons, especially vocabulary heavy ones, you’ll find a link to online flashcards, too. The online flashcards are ideal for studying a little more once the lesson is over.
A simple interface that’s ideal for studying alone, too.
What makes BaseLang’s curriculum even better? You don’t actually have to follow it – if you don’t want to.
See, you’re in control of what you study with BaseLang. If you have some specific situations you want to cover, just let your teacher know and off you go.
You can ask your teacher to study anything you like with this service. You aren’t forced to learn certain things, like in a high school classroom or audio course.
Plus, you can also request moving forward to a certain lesson and redoing an old one from the past. The flexibility makes the curriculum ideal for Spanish learners of all levels and backgrounds.
Easy to Use Interface
BaseLang is super easy to use. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll just click the calendar tab in their online portal.
You’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:
Then you just click the “New” button on the left side of the screen and a new page will pop up.
On this page, you’ll be able to see what times and/or teachers are available for your next classes. Once you find the time or teacher you want, booking a class just takes a couple of clicks.
I try to book classes a few days out because many get filled up the day of and the day before:
It’s super easy to schedule classes with BaseLang.
This isn’t a huge deal. You just have to remember to book new classes before or after your lessons every couple of days.
Once you’re ready for the class, just log into your Zoom application and your teacher will be waiting for you to begin the lesson. It’s super easy to use and makes taking classes online easier than ever before.
No Pressure Bookings
One thing I love about BaseLang is the relaxed atmosphere and no pressure bookings. Life happens and sometimes you can’t make it to a lesson.
With BaseLang, that’s not a big deal. You’re paying for unlimited lessons, so if you have to cancel one the day of, it’s not a problem. This is especially helpful if you wake up one day feeling sick or hungover.
While I doubt BaseLang will be happy about me saying that, I love the flexibility of being able to move my schedule around when life happens.
Sometimes I have to cancel a lesson 5-6 hours before it happens. Sometimes I book a lesson an hour before it begins.
With the unlimited lessons BaseLang offers, you have this type of flexibility to learn when you have time available.
Last, but not least…
BaseLang is truly unlimited personal Spanish tutoring.
You could book 5-6 hours of lessons a day with this online Spanish tutoring service. Hell, I’ve known one guy who tried to.
His goal was to study Spanish 129 hours in one month, so he was only paying $1 USD per hour-long lesson.
I don’t think he achieved his goal, but there’s no doubt he got his money’s worth with BaseLang.
While audio courses and online programs have great value for novice learners just looking to pick up a little Spanish, BaseLang is the best for serious learners.
If you’re willing to put in 20-40 hours of Spanish study per month, you’ll find BaseLang is an incredible value.
There’s nowhere else you’ll find one-hour long Spanish lessons with a detailed curriculum for $3-6 USD an hour.
Trust me, I’ve tried! Even learning Spanish in cheap countries, like Guatemala and Nicaragua, is much more expensive than BaseLang – if you’re seriously studying.
BaseLang Review: The Downsides
Now, no Spanish language learning course or program is perfect. Hell, no product is perfect. BaseLang certainly is no different in this regard.
While I’m writing this BaseLang review because I’m a huge fan, it should be noted that there are a few downsides to the program.
A few things I don’t like about BaseLang are:
30-Minute Bookings: I wish you could book hour-long classes with teachers instead of just 30-minute lessons. The first five minutes of each lesson is pleasantries, which adds up when you switch teachers every 30 minutes. I’ve found I get way more out of a one-hour lesson with the same teacher – than with two 30-minute lessons with different teachers.
P.S: It should be noted that you can book lessons for as long as you like with BaseLang, but teachers may switch every 30-minutes. It just depends on availability. Sometimes I book two-hours straight of lessons and it’s with one teacher the whole time. Other days, I book two-hours of lessons and it’s with 2-3 different professors.
Not a One Time Fee: You pay for BaseLang every month. If you’re not studying seriously each month, you’ll end up wasting your money. That’s the benefit of courses like Rocket Spanish and Pimsleur. You pay one time for all the material.
Some Professors Better/More Popular Than Others: The best professors on BaseLang often get booked up pretty quickly. It’s frustrating to find a professor you really learn a lot from – only to find out he/she is booked up for the next week straight. Luckily, you’ll find 2-3 teachers you vibe with after a few weeks and this becomes less of a problem.
A Gringo’s BaseLang Review: Best Way to Learn Spanish or Scam Service?
Dios Mio!! That was quite the BaseLang review.
But I wanted to give you guys a full overview of what you’ll get if you decide to invest in BaseLang and learning Spanish.
While you can travel Latin America without learning Spanish, the experience changes completely once you’re able to communicate with locals in their native tongue. Travel becomes more fulfilling and life down south just becomes less stressful.
Plus, it’s always fun to be able to flirt with that sultry Latina in a manner she can actually understand 😉
Overall, I can’t recommend BaseLang enough for anyone who is serious about learning Spanish.
Whether you’re about to take a trip or already in a Lat American country, BaseLang is a surefire way to improve your Spanish over the course of a few months – not a few years!
This article about is Venezuela safe for travel was created by the only person I’ve met who actually went to the country in 2017 – Traveler100. Enjoy!
Is Venezuela safe? That was the question on my mind as I boarded a plane in Lima bound for Caracas in February 2017. Venezuela was to be my 84th country, and it was the one for which I conducted the most planning. A lot of planning. In the wake of reports of severe civil unrest and food shortages, my previous trips to Iran, Honduras, and Bangladesh seemed like package tours to Disneyland.
I decided I would entrust someone on the ground to design my Venezuela trip. After contacting several operators found from a sparse collection of TripAdvisor reviews, I ultimately opted for Hike-in-Venezuela.
These guys were great from start to finish. I was primarily in touch with Andreas, who addressed all of my concerns without the least bit of attitude. My ambition was to see the Angel Falls, the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. But February is usually a dry month and access to the Falls was not a certainty.
So I pitched Andreas the idea of doing a trek to Roraima, said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World.” Andreas informed me that this trip would take at least 5 days. So I had to decline. I can’t take 5 consecutive days off work in February. That’s prime hustle and grind season. So he pitched me a 3-day/2-night Orinoco Delta tour. He mentioned I would hang out with Warao and go piranha fishing. Sold!
Back to that flight to Caracas. I had snagged a business class upgrade on my Copa flight to Caracas. Not the fanciest service, to be frank, but the flight had enough champagne (or an equivalent thereof) to calm my nerves. It was warm and sunny as I arrived to Caracas airport’s international terminal.
Cuando eres un pandillero.
Andreas’s guy, Elia, was to meet me and escort me to the domestic terminal. I had heard horror stories about that 5-7 minute walk between the two terminals. Recently, however, the authorities had erected a secure, indoor tunnel linking the two, and it could not be accessed by non-passengers. Elia and I quickly spotted each other at the arrivals lobby.
But first, we had to change money. I won’t get into the specifics of Venezuela’s currency situation. But for purposes of this report, there’s an official rate (i.e., the rate applied by payment intermediaries regulated by the Venezuelan government, such as credit card processors), the black market rate (e.g, the extremely favorable rate you get when you exchange your dollars on as street corner in Caracas – strategy not recommended), and lastly the tourist rate, which can literally be anything between the first two.
If I recall correctly, Elia and I went exactly down the middle between official and black market. I furnished 20 USD, and he took out a fat wad of Bolivares as follows:
Feeling like a rap god in Venezuela!
We then set out towards the domestic terminal. But there was a problem: his car wouldn’t start. Appropriately enough, we were right in front of a “Welcome to Venezuela” sign.
So we set out upon that 7-minute “walk of doom.” It went without issue, though admittedly I showed up to the domestic terminal covered in sweat. I checked my bag as my flight was scheduled to depart in 2 hours. Except, I was in Venezuela.
Suspecting that I was in for a long wait, I headed over to the domestic terminal’s premium lounge and checked in with my Priority Pass. It looked alright, but the Wi-Fi was down and there was no coffee or alcohol.
That’s like 2/3 of my existence. Perplexed, I headed over to Subway to spend those Bolivars and make some friends before my flight to Ciudad Bolivar, a base city for Venezuela tourism.
And make some friends I did.
Rather than arrive in Ciudad Bolivar at 7 PM as scheduled, I arrived a bit past midnight. A driver took me to a rather nice traveler’s lodge and announced he return at 4:30 AM to take me to the Orinoco Delta. In the morning, the driver – José I believe was his name – had no shortage of anecdotes.
As we drove past dozens of abandoned production facilities in the vicinity of Ciudad Bolívar, José confided that he was formerly a commercial representative for an Italian mining firm. His company, like many others, was driven out by the Maduro government in a bid to cleanse Venezuela of ‘foreigner capitalist poison.’ Left without work, José was now driving me to a place where ‘work’ took on a different meaning.
At 9 AM that day, we arrived to a small port village of an Orinoco tributary, where the local indigenous peoples, the Warao, were unloading goods recently brought in from Trinidad & Tobago.
Warao literally means “the boat people,” and I had read that they were an industrious, non-confrontational minority. Most live in huts right on the shores of the Orinoco river and its tributaries. After a few positive interactions, I was taken to my new base, the Orinoco Delta Lodge.
High-quality lodging in Venezuela.
The next 24 hours or so were jam-packed with activities. I vividly recall canoeing around an Orinoco tributary and spotting pink river dolphins. Had the canoe flipped into the piranha-infested pool, Traveler100 would have probably been renamed to Traveler 3/4.
It was truly special to meet and greet with some Warao. They asked me about my life around the world, and whether I’m afraid of flying (I still am, who isn’t?). Among the family there was a non-Warao Venezuelan who had courted his Warao wife in a fish market in Maturín.
He proudly proclaimed that albeit he lived poorly among the Warao, life in the jungle was better. It was unlike life in the city, rife with armed violence and arbitrary assaults. The family elder then offered his views of modern Venezuela, but spoke of the late Hugo Chavéz as if the latter were still alive.
I arose early the next morning to go piranha fishing with a Warao guide. We hooked chicken meat onto some homemade, wooden rods and went full Rambo. He caught about 17 of those rascals before I caught my first one.
Observing the master, I placed the bait in a seemingly quiet portion of our designated fishing area. Jerking the rod a bit, I finally enticed a piranha onto my hook. “Now you can call yourself Warao!,” exclaimed the guide. But I wanted no part of the unhooking process. I like my hands how they are, thank you. I asked my Warao companion to set that particular piranha aside as my hard-earned breakfast.
Fishing in Venezuela.
Breakfast ended sharply at noon and José took me back to Ciudad Bolivar airport. A couple of nerve-wracking flight delays later, I found myself en route to Curaçao for some R&R. That’s it. No traumatic confrontations, no robberies, and yes, I left Venezuela in one piece.
Is Venezuela Safe? A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
If you are interested in travel to Venezuela, I hope you have lengthy travel experience in the Americas and/or a very high tolerance for stress and unpredictability. I further recommend a short trip of the type outlined above.
Is Venezuela safe? No, it’s not. Not even for short trips planned with a tour guide. Even for short trips, have an exit strategy. When people go from prosperous to hungry, change can happen fast. Personally, I’d like to return to see the Angel Falls and hike Roraima. In such event, I would certainly contact Andreas and his team, again.
~ Editor’s Note: Is Venezuela Safe?
It should be noted that the author of this article about safety in Venezuela has vast travel experiences, is a good sized male (200+ lb. / 6’2″), and speaks absolute fluent Spanish.
It is not a good idea to go to Venezuela in 2018/19. The country is beyond dangerous and supplies are dwindling.
You’ve got two weeks vacation from work. Or maybe you’re taking a month or two off to travel around. A sabbatical of sorts. You want to take a trip to Latin America, but you have no idea where to go.
You started learning Spanish. You’ve read blogs and guidebooks about the region, but you’re still stuck. You have no idea where to go. There are so many amazing options and so little time.
Indecision sets in and the amount of amazing cities to visit confuses you even more.
Luckily, you came to the right place. After traveling the region for 3+ years, I found some absolutely amazing cities.
Some of these secret spots won’t be shared on this blog or online. Some of these cities are too small or dangerous for newbies. Other places are absolutely ideal for your first time in Latin America.
That’s what we’ll be talking about here. The absolute best cities for your first trip. Latin American locales that offer unique cultural experiences, while still offering modern amenities, decent English levels, and fairly safe neighborhoods.
6 Fantastic Cities For Your First Trip to Latin America
Enough with the intro, let’s dive in and take a look at the absolute best cities to check out during your first trip to Latin America.
Here are a few spots I’d recommend:
Without hyping too much, Lima, Peru is the best city for first-timers to Latin America. Seriously, if you speak little to no Spanish, have the streets smarts of a dipshit, and have never travelled before -you still won’t have any issues in Lima!
The city is home to one of the safest neighborhoods in all of Latin America, Miraflores. Miraflores offers bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, hostels, gyms, yoga studios, coworking spaces, and stunning Pacific Ocean views.
You’ll find English speakers around every corner in Miraflores and Peruvians hold gringos in high regard, even backpackers who look like they haven’t bathed in months are respected in Peru.
Come to Lima on your first trip to Latin America. Just make sure you visit from November through May.
Enjoy a little rumba, maybe meet a cute Peruvian, surf some baby waves in the Pacific Ocean, and book a flight down to Cusco for a few days. Make sure you check out Machu Pichu!
It’ll be a trip you’ll never forget. Lima is one of the safer cities in South America and caters to gringos. To learn more about Lima, Peru – check out a few of my posts from my time in the city:
Outside of a few romps in Mexico, my first solo trip to Latin America was in Panama City, Panama. Obviously, things went pretty damn well here or I wouldn’t have spent the last three years traveling around the region.
PTY is another exceptionally safe city in Latin America and boasts one of the strongest economies in the region. English levels are decent, especially in the middle and upper-classes.
The nightlife here is good fun and there’s solid tourism all around. Check out the Panama Canal, enjoy the colonial ruins in Casco Viejo, and enjoy an amazing hike up Ancon Hill. Hell, you can even hit a few beaches just a short 1-2 hours away.
While PTY can be a little expensive, it’s a great place to spend a couple weeks as an intro to Latin American culture. I’d say Panama City a lighter, safer version of what you’ll find in places like Colombia or the Dominican Republic.
Many will argue and say Bogota, Colombia isn’t a great choice for someone’s first trip to Latin America. They wouldn’t be wrong. The city features shit weather, dangerous neighborhoods, and has become less and less gringo-friendly over the last couple years.
Still, Bogota is an incredible place for the gringo with an affinity for partying. If you stay in Zona T, you’ll have a safe neighborhood filled with some of the best nightlife in Latin America. Hell, some say it’s world-class.
There are dozens of bars and clubs throughout the district, along with many restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, hostels, and more. Every amenity you’d ever need can be found in Zona T.
English levels are decent in Zona T and you’ll find a good place to party almost every night of the week. If you stay in the small district, then I’d venture that Bogota is just as good of a starter destination as any in South America.
I haven’t been, although that’s changing in a few months. After careful research and planning, I know Mexico City is one of the best introductions to Latin American culture any gringo will find.
Mexico City offers world-class neighborhoods like Condesa, Roma Norte, and Polanco. These areas are 100% safe and feature every modern amenity you’d ever desire. Yoga studios, nightclubs, speakeasy bars, and coworking spaces fill up these districts.
English levels are great in these high-end barrios, as the expat populations are high. Plus, it’s easier to get a flight to Mexico City than any other Latin American locale for most people living in the United States.
Enough with my hypothesis, here’s a little more info on Mexico City from people who have lived there:
I’m not a huge fan of Medellin, Colombia. My take is the place is overrun with gringos and the whole vibe of the city has changed. I won’t be going back anytime soon.
Still, Medellin is one of the easiest cities to get acclimated with in South America. The weather is absolutely fantastic, the people are good looking, and the prices are still damn cheap in most neighborhoods.
Safety concerns play a role while in Medellin, but most travelers have little issue staying in the Poblado. The nightlife is decent here and there’s fantastic tourism opportunities, like Guatape, just a stone’s throw away.
You’ll also find plenty of fellow gringos to hang out with in Medellin, as the city has become the digital nomad hub of South America.
I’ve almost booked 2-3 month stays in Playa del Carmen multiple times, but never pulled the trigger. I’ve spent a few weeks here and on Cozumel. Both trips, I absolutely loved it.
Playa del Carmen has a lot to offer the traveling gringo. While you won’t find as much unique Latin culture here as you would in Bogota, you’ll still meet plenty of Spanish speakers. Hell, clubs still play reggaeton from time to time, too.
There’s no doubt PDC is a bit westernized, but the good far outweighs the bad here. Playa del Carmen offers amazing beaches, unique tourism opportunities, amazing nightlife, yoga studios, and coworking spaces.
Plus, the small beach city is still incredibly cheap. There aren’t many places you can live in a furnished studio apartment within walking distance of the beach, nightlife, and more for under $500 a month.
Finding the Best City For Your First Trip to Latin America!
If you’re a gringo looking to take your first solo trip south of the border, the cities above are absolutely ideal. You won’t need fluent Spanish to get by in any of these places and safety shouldn’t be too much of a concern.