I am planning to travel for 3 weeks around Argentina, I plan to arrive and depart from Buenos Aires. I am not booking all my accommodation/travel ahead of time, as some of the distances are so vast, I don't know exactly where I will be ahead of time.

How practical is this considering I don't speak Spanish?

My assumption is, that learning the usual basic words, hand gestures, persistence and a bit of research ahead of time would suffice, is this unrealistic?

3 Answers 3


I spent a few months in South America, starting in Buenos Aires with limited Spanish skills. I found it hard, trying to use my broken Spanish.

I then asked my brother who had been there a few months earlier how he managed, as he had zero Spanish knowledge. "I just spoke English" was his reply.

Granted, he mainly did the big tourist spots - Buenos Aires, Iguazu etc, but it shows you don't have to have any Spanish to get by. I was merely struggling because I was trying to speak Spanish, but in many of the main tourist spots, hostels, bus stations there's always someone willing to help - if not a local, another traveller :-)

Short answer: you'll be fine, and will learn more Spanish as you go. You quickly work out what few words are really important, and a smile and politeness goes a long way.


Except for the most upscale touristy places, you cannot rely on having someone in reach who speaks English; it will often be the case, but not always.

But it sounds like you're willing to put in some effort (in addition to what you mentioned, I would of course also take a dictionary and/or phrase book along), and as long as you're polite and patient, you should be fine. People in South America generally (in my experience) are used to things not always working smoothly, and most are flexible and helpful towards tourists.


From my own experience I have found English to some degree is widely spoken, and when it isn't its very easy to get by on limited Spanish.

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