Nowadays a lot of people have to travel because of work. You can travel inside your country or overseas; it doesn’t really matter, the routine is pretty much the same: you work and you look to do some tourism if you have the time.
I have lived and worked in 3 countries in South America and had the chance to explore those countries while on vacation or any long weekend holiday (which we have a lot!, although Argentina wins the gold in that area).
But I also have traveled through Latin America because of work, looking for business opportunities, and exploring the country is not part of the deal. Does it sound familiar?
The business trip started with previous research to find out the best way to get from the airport to the hotel. In almost all Latin American countries, you will find taxi companies at the airport so you can take a safe ride to get to the hotel. In a city like Buenos Aires, you will find companies that offer private bus rides to principal places inside the city (mostly downtown); in other cities, like Bogota, you find public transportation just leaving the airport. Another option is to hire a private driver, it can be more expensive but if you need to deal with traffic jams in a crowded city, like Sao Paulo, you can save time to get wherever you need to go.
Once you are settled in Hotel, the routine starts: breakfast business meetings, office business meetings, lunch business meetings, dinner business meetings and if you still have time and energy maybe some drinks before you go to bed, to start all over again the next day.
Meetings can be done in Spanish, spanglish or English (mostly inside large companies), so you have the chance to practice your Spanish if you are still learning, but if you’re not, be aware on having someone to help you with the language.
If your trip includes a weekend, and you don’t have much work to do, go ahead and explore the city.
If language is not a barrier for you, take a break from taxis and take public transportation. In cities like Lima and Bogota public transportation can be tricky; you would need to ask someone local which bus to take to get where you want to go, but in cities like Buenos Aires, Medellin, Mexico DF or Sao Paulo, you can take the subway, this way you will have the chance to experience tourism in a different way.
My advice, if you are in Buenos Aires go to Tigre and take a boat trip through the river; if you are in Bogota go out of the hotel on Sunday morning and join thousands of people out in the street for a walk, run or bike and later that day visit the Usaquen flea market.
Santiago offers a different scenario: you can get to the beach or to the high hills to ski (during winter of course), in an hour more or less, by bus or with a private transportation. It is easy and fast to change the city view.
Last but not least, if you have a weekend in Lima and want to visit Machu Picchu (which is in Cusco), my advice is to plan your trip when you have more time than 2 days available because you will need to take a flight to Cusco, take the morning train to Machu Picchu, stay there for a few hours, take the train back and take a flight back to Lima… you will miss to visit Cusco city and other ancient attractions and be very tired to go back to work.