Planning a trip to Spain? There’s so much to explore and see! And if you’re on a budget, you can still have an amazing experience. Learn more in this guest post by Carmichael, CA Spanish tutor Joan B...
Are you planning a trip to Spain? Whether you want to cross the must-see destinations off your bucket list, or get off the beaten path and check out some of the hidden gems in Spain, there is so much to explore. Moreover, there are tons of websites out there devoted to offering tips, hacks, and recommendations for making the most of your trip and sticking to your budget.
But outside of doing your due diligence to find the cheapest (yet still reputable) hotels, do you know the simplest travel hack of all? This one thing can help you save money in Spain, while helping you have the best experience possible.
That trick? Actually learning Spanish! While you can certainly get by finding tour guides and translators who speak English, a lot can be said for learning the language of the locals. Keep reading to learn all the ways that Spanish will enhance your experience and help you save money in Spain.
1. Impress the Locals
Spaniards are fiercely proud of their language, and showing them that you have an appreciation for the Spanish language and have worked to communicate with them in their mother tongue can make a huge difference. Whether it’s the local shopkeeper who throws in some extra goodies, the owner of a bed and breakfast who gives you a discount, or any other local merchant, you will find that simply by speaking Spanish, others are more likely to be helpful and give you a better deal.
2. Make New Friends
When you can converse socially and make someone feel comfortable speaking to you in their language, you can develop long-lasting and meaningful friendships. Building friendships with locals is one of the best travel tips for Spain, because it will allow you to experience a side of the country you might not otherwise see. They can recommend local places, set you up to stay with friends, and more. With this unparalleled cultural experience, you can save money at the same time!
3. Avoid Confusion at the Register
When you’re traveling, lots of transactions are made, big and small. Speaking Spanish is very useful in this case because not every clerk and merchant you encounter will speak English. And even if they do, confusion can still occur. Speaking Spanish will save you money because in addition to giving you the ability to read sign descriptions and prices, it will allow you to clear up potential confusion and make sure you’re paying the actual price instead of an inflated one for tourists.
A common place where this is useful is at the train station. Not every clerk speaks English, so speaking Spanish will ensure that you buy a ticket at the correct price, with the correct departure time and destination. An incorrect ticket can result in lost time and additional fees.
4. Stay on the Right Path
Another thing that happens often when traveling is that you may rely on the advice and suggestions of people in the street, whether it’s asking for directions or a suggestion for a cafe or restaurant. Whom you meet often determines where you go, and subsequently, how much you pay. Speaking Spanish ensures that locals can lead you away from overpriced tourist traps, and instead point you in the direction of cafes and restaurants that are frequented by locals. In addition, the act of conversing in Spanish instead of English means that the locals you encounter might be less likely to think of you as a typical tourist and recommend more authentic (and probably better-priced) options.
5. Bargain for a Great Price
Bargaining is another area where speaking the native language will come in handy if you’re visiting Spain on a budget. If you want to go to places like El Rastro in Madrid (a giant flea market) to pick up souvenirs and gifts, speaking Spanish will allow you to be a more compelling and effective bargainer. You will be taken more seriously and the merchants are more likely to give you the price you want!
Lodging is another point in traveling where cost matters. A common choice in Spain is a pension, a type of local and independent bed and breakfast. Because these are often run by a single person or a couple, you have a chance to interact with the owner. Speaking Spanish will quite possibly net you a lower price in addition to creating a stronger relationship with the person, which could lead to more individualized and customized recommendations for things to do and places to go.
Additional Travel Tips for Spain
Looking for more travel tips? We recommend checking out these guides:
It’s clear that there are endless ways to save money in Spain by learning Spanish. Many of the problems that come along with being a tourist, such as price inflation, occur because of a lack of savviness. Speaking Spanish will make you a more informed and capable traveler, and it will be obvious to those with whom you interact, as well. So get started today! As you plan your trip to Spain, incorporate some Spanish lessons to make sure you’ve covered all the basics!
Ready to brush up your Spanish? Find a tutor near you!
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!
Photo by Clark & Kim Kays