Travel Etiquette 101: Chile

by GuestBlogger

After taking us all over the world in his Travel Etiquette Series, Adam Barralet takes us to South America to talk about the culture and people of Chile. From initial greetings to proper table manners, Adam shares with us his travel etiquette tips when visiting this beautiful place:

Chileans may seem more like the straight Europeans than the typical, gregarious South Americans but they will soon warm. Although the initial greetings should be a firm handshake with eye contact, rapport will soon develop leading to men hugging and the women air kissing once on the right cheek. When greeting a group be sure to acknowledge the eldest first.

Like many South Americans, Chileans use both their maternal and paternal surnames. The father’s surname is listed first and is the one used in conversation. If you know of any titles always try to use them. If no title exists then simply use “Senor” (male) or “Senora” (female) followed by the surname. When addressing older people with whom you have a personal relationship, they may be referred to as “don” (male) or “dona” (female) with their first name. First names are used between close friends – wait until invited to move to a first name basis

In conversation Chileans have a couple of habits that you may not be used to.  A common parting phrase is “I’ll call you later”.  Don’t waste your time watching your phone as it’s simply a way of saying I’ll see you again. Chileans will also interrupt you mid-sentence. Whereas you may feel this is rude, this is common practice in Chile. Take it as a compliment as it is a signal they are engaged and interested in what you are saying.

At the dinner table keep your hands visible. Wrist should rest against the edge and elbows should definitely not be rested upon the table. Keep your knife and fork in each hand rather than putting down your knife down to eat as is the custom in North America. When pouring wine, use your right hand. If you are attending a home dinner party, bring a gift for the host. Flowers or candy are typical choices, just don’t choose yellow roses (symbolizing contempt) or purple or black flowers (symbolizing death). When dining out, a ten percent service charge will be added to the bill. However it is expected that an extra ten percent tip should be paid for good service.

Finally, in many South American countries bribing the police is commonplace. Don’t ever consider this in Chile as it will land you in serious hot water. Besides, with your immaculate manners and etiquette, how could you possibly get in trouble?


Looking for more information on Chile or need assistance planning your next trip? Contact a Flight Centre Travel Consultant at 1-877-967-5302