Learn Spanish or Portuguese in advance
The number one tip before you travel to South America, if you’re planning to date: learn a bit of the language before you go! While you may be able to get by with no Spanish or Portuguese on a day-to-day basis during your trip, you’ll struggle with dating if you can barely communicate with the locals. Even if it’s just some introductory phrases and conversation starters, something is always better than nothing.
Most South American cultures are fairly sociable and outgoing, and you’re unlikely to meet anyone sitting around the hostel alone or staying in at night. Get out and be sociable: go to a concert, head out dancing in the evening or even sign up for a tour at your hostel. Any of those things will hugely increase your chances of meeting someone.
As sociable as many South American cultures can be, they can also be quite bad at timekeeping and turning up on time for things. Dating in South America requires a certain amount of patience (more than you might expect in your own country) – dates may well turn up half an hour late, or even cancel a few times to gauge your interest. If you really like the person, you’ll need to show some patience.
Lay off the booze
Not to suggest that people in South America don’t enjoy a drink or two, but nights out are far less focussed on alcohol consumption than in many Western countries, and you’re far less likely to strike up a conversation with someone at a bar or nightclub if you’re really drunk. By all means, enjoy a few drinks, but try and keep it in check if you are going out with a view to meeting someone.
Seek out conversation clubs and social events
The best dating connections aren’t usually made at 2am on a dark dance floor, but in a more laid-back, sociable context. With that in mind, try and seek out events that will allow you to mingle with local people in a more relaxed and natural setting. Language conversation clubs are a great way to interact with local men or women in a pressure-free environment and perhaps meet someone that you like.
Look after yourself
When travelling, it can be all too easy to lapse into bad habits of diet, exercise and even hygiene. Yes, you’re trying to pack light, and only have a few T-shirts and trousers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do laundry regularly. Also, try and resist the temptation to lapse into an easy diet of street burgers and fatty foods. How can you expect someone to date you if you aren’t even bothering to take care of yourself when you’re travelling?
Understand the different dating cultures
Every single country you’ll visit has a distinct dating culture, and while this can be hard to grasp initially, it’s worth taking some time to understand what that culture is before you visit. For example, in many countries, it can be common practice for the man to pay for drinks or food on the first date, so don’t be surprised if, as a man, you’re expected to pick up the cheque. This isn’t to say that you have to follow each tradition to the letter, but having some understanding of the culture in advance will certainly make things easier.
Show some respect
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s amazing how many travellers lose sight of basic dating rules when they visit a new country. While you may be seen as exotic and interesting to potential dates while you’re travelling, don’t assume that that gives you a free pass to act however you like. Treat your date with respect and don’t just assume that your foreigner status affords you special privileges.
Download the dating apps (but understand that they are often used differently)
Tinder can be a great dating tool wherever you are, so it’s definitely worth downloading it before your travels if you plan to date. However, it’s also important to be aware of how apps like these are seen in different countries. While many people in Europe see Tinder as an app that is designed purely for hook-ups, in many South American countries it’s used principally for meeting people and dating. So, by all means, get yourself a Tinder account before you travel, but understand how it’s used.
Dressing down isn’t really a thing in most South American countries, and dating is no exception to this rule. It’s seen as bad form to turn up to a date in shorts and flip-flops (unless, of course, your date is a fellow traveller or is super-relaxed), and people tend to respond better to people who have made an effort. You don’t need to pack your tux, but make sure a decent pair of jeans and a shirt find their way into your backpack (and that they get washed regularly).
Travelling is meant to be fun, and so’s dating: so have fun! Your once-in-a-lifetime South American odyssey is not the time for dating angst and game-playing, so try and relax and just enjoy meeting new people and having new experiences. The bonus of this is that your laid-back attitude is likely to be far more appealing to potential dates.
Find out more about dating around the world.