11 Important Mexico Travel Tips You Need To Read Before You Leave
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Making epic plans to visit Mexico? From Playa del Carmen to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is bursting with incredible cities to explore! And thanks to the country’s popularity and the many tourist-centric resorts throughout, it’s fairly easy to visit Mexico without much trouble.
However, it’s still a different country, and things work a little bit differently than they do in the States. That’s why we put together our list of top Mexico travel tips to help you navigate your vacation with ease! From the best place to find food to navigating the streets, you’ll find all the important information right here.
General Mexico Travel Tips
You need to know a lot of general information before traveling to Mexico. So we’ll start by covering the essential Mexico travel tips you need to have fun and make the most of your trip. We also cover some ways to make life a little bit easier, whether you’re headed to some Mayan ruins or just exploring the streets outside your hotel.
Eat street food
Yes, this is an essential tip for visiting Mexico. It’s pretty much a crime to visit and not try some of the delicious street food! Sure, you can follow the other tourists to the fancy new restaurants and pay lots of money for modern twists on Mexican classics (there’s nothing wrong with that). But you can’t go wrong with indulging in plenty of what the locals are having, too!
Wherever you’re staying, head to the city center and find some authentic street food at carts, trucks, or stands along the road. Here’s one of our best Mexico tips: follow the locals! They’ll probably be avoiding all the “touristy” spots in lieu of cheaper and more authentic Mexican food.
Brush up on basic Spanish
Many people learn basic Spanish in high school, but even a year away from the classroom can dull your skills. And while most touristy resorts will have staff members that speak Spanish and English, it’s never guaranteed. That’s why we highly recommend you brush up on your Spanish before heading to Mexico.
You’ll most likely need it when you’re exploring the towns and smaller villages near where you’re staying. And in the unfortunate case that you’re ever in an emergency situation, you’ll be so thankful for even basic Spanish communication.
Don’t flush toilet paper
You can ruin a day really fast by flushing your toilet paper in Mexico. The septic systems aren’t built to accommodate paper waste, so you’re asking for a backed-up toilet in your hotel room if you try. It also really messes up the plumbing, which can be a costly fix for your host.
So be considerate, and use the trash receptacles in every bathroom to throw away your toilet paper when you’re done.
Download Google Maps
Whether you plan to walk or drive around, do yourself a favor and have Google maps or Waze downloaded on your phone. The last thing you want is to get lost in a bad part of town or miss a scheduled event because you couldn’t find your way.
Purchase travel insurance
One of our most essential Mexico travel tips is to buy travel insurance. Getting travel insurance for an international trip is always a good idea. But especially with the state of the airline industry right now, we feel like it’s a must.
Travel insurance covers various issues from missed and canceled flights to missing luggage, trip delays, and even medical bills. Yeah, you can risk it like any other trip; but we’d rather be safe than sorry!
If you’re going to be in Mexico (or traveling abroad) for a month or more, consider Safety wing Logo Insurance. This is a special type of medical insurance designed for world nomads and people who frequently travel outside of the U.S. They’ll cover any medical expenses you incur while traveling abroad in 4-week increments.
Learn the ins and outs of car rentals
You can get out and explore Mexico in a couple of different ways. You can schedule shuttles and tours to take you places. You turn a blind eye to taxi rates and hire taxi drivers to take you everywhere. You can also utilize bus stations and the Metro. Or, you can get a rental car.
Because it is such a convenience, we’re a big fan of car rentals when traveling to Mexico. You’ll be free to explore when and where you like, and it’s much faster than walking.
The average rental car cost is just $30 per day with car insurance! And while most car rental companies do require you to be 25 to rent, people as young as 18 can rent a car. You will need a valid driver’s license, and car insurance is mandatory, but it’s really a simple process.
It is vital to make sure that you book with a reputable company and know what kinds of insurance you need to legally drive. Also, find out in advance what fees and taxes you’ll have to pay, so you’re not surprised when you get the bill.
Switch your USD to Mexican Pesos
A lot of popular places will take credit and debit cards for payment, but it’s always important to have Mexican pesos on hand. Less populated locations, toll roads, and some small restaurants won’t take credit cards or American cash, and it’s just more considerate to pay in local currency anyway.
Most people switch money at the airport, but that can be really costly, so here’s one of our favorite tips for Mexico. You’ll save money if you wait to exchange your pesos until you arrive and withdraw money at a local ATM instead. Especially if you don’t have transaction fees, the exchange rate tends to be much better than what you’ll get at the airport.
Important Mexico Safety Tips
Safety first! While we love traveling Mexico, not everything is easy-breezy. There are definitely situations you need to avoid and certain precautions you should take to keep yourself out of trouble. Below are our best Mexico travel tips for staying safe with your health and physical well-being.
Don’t drink the tap water
This is pretty common knowledge for most people, but we never want to assume it. Under no circumstances should you drink the tap water in Mexico! While the water is purified, it often gets contaminated on its way to the faucets because of faulty distribution.
If you drink tap water, you’re putting yourself at risk of getting very sick, which will put a quick stop to any vacation plans. And if you’re thinking about taking chances, you should know that not even the locals drink the tap water.
The easiest alternative is to buy bottled water in bulk for your trip. This is readily available everywhere, so you’ll never have to worry about running out. It’s also very affordable and will only cost 8 to 12 Mexican pesos per liter on average.
Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (aka STEP) is an amazing, free service that every traveler should sign up for. This program lets U.S. citizens and nationals inform the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate about their trip and makes it easier to contact someone in case of an emergency.
As part of your trip enrollment, you can get notifications about safety conditions in the country you’ll be visiting. And if something bad does happen, like a natural disaster or civil unrest, the Embassy will be able to contact you quickly and give you evacuation info.
Use public transportation during the day and private transportation at night
Unfortunately, tourists can be big targets for crime and theft, so one of our most important tips for Mexico is to be smart about how you travel. The Metro system is an affordable way to get around if you don’t rent a car. However, it can be very chaotic and not-so-safe, especially at night.
In our opinion, women and children should always opt for the women-only carriages (a recent installment following the high rate of sexual assault cases in Mexico).
And at night, just take a taxi. Monitor the meter to ensure your taxi drivers aren’t scamming you, and only ride with reputable drivers at the cab ranks or your hotel.
Split and hide your cash
Because petty theft is so common, it’s smart to split your cash into multiple, smaller amounts and hide it in different places. Utilize your room safe, hidden pockets, your shoes, bras, and any other creative methods to keep your money out of sight. That way, if someone demands your wallet, you’ll only lose some of your money instead of all of it.
Tips on Where to Go When Visiting Mexico
We know a lot of you already have a destination in mind. Maybe a 5-star resort or an eco-friendly jungle stay? But if you’re more in the mood for a Mexico road trip or some places to really dive into Mexican culture, we have some suggestions. Mexico is a huge country, but there are a few places we just can’t get out of our minds.
Pacific Coast Destinations
- Puerto Vallarta
- State of Guerror
- Cabo san Lucas, Baja California Sur
- La Paz
Yucatan Peninsula/ Caribbean Coast Destinations
- Riviera Maya
- Playa del Carmen
- Isla Mujeres
Central Mexico Destinations
- Mexico City
- San Miguel de Allende
We hope you found these Mexico travel tips helpful! Remember, just use common sense and be aware of your surroundings and you’ll have an amazing trip.