Take advantage of your travel consultant's first-hand knowledge – every one of our staff has either lived, worked or travelled extensively throughout Latin America, so they're exceptionally well placed to advise you on all aspects of your holiday. By tapping into their expert knowledge, you'll be able to find out all the best places to eat and drink in your destination as well as when to arrive at popular attractions to beat the crowds.
English is widely spoken in hotels and popular tourist attractions in Latin America, but it will make a huge difference if you can try to learn some of the local language before you arrive. Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese phrasebooks are available in all major book shops and will help with the essentials: even the basics, such as hola or gracias, will ensure you an even warmer welcome from Latin America's famously friendly locals. If travelling with a tour leader, you may also like to ask him or her to translate for you so that you can speak with people and get an authentic insight into their way of life.
Booking your holiday with a specialist travel company often gives you access to special rates and automatic room upgrades in first-class hotels, as the tour operator may have negotiated a special contract with them. For example, if you book a 3-night stay at the Copacabana Palace – Rio's answer to the Ritz – we'll upgrade you, free of charge, to the room category above the one you're paying for. In fact, since we have close relationships with many high-end hotels across Latin America, we're almost always able to offer upgrades to clients booking first-class properties.
If you're looking for a flight upgrade, our biggest tip is to register for the airline's frequent flyer programme. Often when economy is full, the passengers that are upgraded first are those who have a loyalty card. It's free to register – just make sure you sign up at least one week before your flight departs, otherwise the airline may not be able to add your frequent flyer number to your reservation. There are no guarantees but you'll stand a better chance than most, especially when travelling during the high season.
If you have something to celebrate, don't keep it to yourself! Let your travel consultant know so we can advise the airline and hotels, particularly if it's your honeymoon: you have a good chance of a flight upgrade and you'll almost certainly enjoy some perks while you're away - perhaps a room upgrade, champagne or flowers in your room, or private dining arrangements. Special anniversaries and birthdays can have the same effect.