A Mexican getaway can provide a variety of natural features and local customs.
But like visiting any foreign country, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Maybe you've heard stories from friends or family who have visited Mexico. Or perhaps you don't know too much aside from some rumors or anecdotes. But we'll get to the real nuts and bolts to let you know what to expect when traveling in Mexico.
And more importantly, we'll give you some advice for tackling your trip and getting the most out of it. A few simple steps ahead of time and some key reminders for while you're there will go a long way. Just remember to relax, explore or do whatever else makes the trip more fun. Because there's a lot to see and experience once you arrive. You just have to know where to start looking as you are traveling in Mexico.
Our Top Tips for Traveling in Mexico
Before you start making reservations at a resort hotel, make sure you do your research. Mexico is a large country and different regions will provide completely disparate experiences. So decide what you want out of your trip and then find the area in this country that will provide it. Much of the advice below will apply to traveling in Mexico generally. Others will indicate specific places where they might be more applicable than others. No matter what, having this information handy will help a lot as you navigate traveling in Mexico.
1. Bottled Water Only
There is filtered water in much of Mexico. And generally speaking, it's safe to drink. But to be completely safe, most folks recommend sticking to bottled water when traveling in Mexico. The unfiltered tap water, however, is notoriously susceptible to bacteria and other harmful additives. Fortunately, it's easy to locate a vendor with bottled water. Because as it turns out, local residents aren't any more likely to drink the tap water than tourists are. It might be a cliche, but it became one for a reason. So don't risk getting sick.
If you're at a luxury fine dining restaurant and the server offers a glass of water, you can accept. And most of the high end resorts and hotels also feature filtered water. But while you can brush your teeth with confidence, look out for water in other contexts. Some street vendors sell smoothies that are made with tap water. Watch out for this and other ways it might sneak into uncooked foods or beverages. Of course, these food carts do offer some of the region's simple delicacies. Just make sure whatever you order has been cooked well and avoid raw veggies or fruits.
2. Be Wary, Not Afraid
Maybe you've heard to be concerned about security or safety risks while traveling in Mexico. And we don't want to downplay the potential pitfalls of a trip. But it shouldn't prevent you from getting a fully immersive and enjoyable outing. You might want to involve a professional travel agent to set you up with a verified provider. This goes for excursions, adventures and many other day trips during your stay.
And as you're making your way around, there are some other possible fraudulent schemes to watch out for. Like in many tourist destinations, local criminals will probably be on the prowl. So don't just take them at their word. Some common scams involve taxi service. But that is actually easier than ever to combat, since Uber and other apps are in widespread use. This gives you an extra layer of protection. Alternatively, you can find cabs that are registered and in good standing. Your resort concierge should be able to help you if you want to go this route.
As for security threats, this might depend on you as a person and as a traveler. But again, these are broad travel tips for folks traveling almost anywhere. For starters, women and people traveling solo will want to be on alert. There are some who might consider you an easier target. Of course, you'll want to research the local community. There might be neighborhoods it would be best to just avoid altogether.
As for marginalized communities, Mexico is fairly progressive and welcoming of most lifestyles and groups. The country has its share of natural disasters and outbreaks of illness. Drug cartels have infamously infiltrated much of the nation's commerce. These criminals pose a possible threat along some of the nation's northern and western borders. But traveling in Mexico can be safe and fun, as plenty of fans have proven by returning time and again.
3. Bring Cash -- Or a Way to Get It
Most places around this country will accept debit cards. But the further you get outside of a major city hub, the better cash will serve you. The fact is that paper money is accepted everywhere when traveling in Mexico. You'll probably find a favorable exchange rate and you'll be able to buy more for your money. Buying an inexpensive meal from a street vendor will be easy with a cash transaction. And plenty of small businesses will only accept cash as payment.
Whether you can use your plastic or not really isn't the point. If you can securely carry cash, you'll have easy access and avoid the hassle and fees of bank transactions. And you'll also be ready in case you need to tip a service provider. It's a lot like you might find in an American tourist destination. Restaurant servers should get a gratuity and some others throughout your stay might expect a tip.
4. Immerse Yourself In History
Every visitor has a unique reason for traveling in Mexico. But we'd be remiss not to mention the deep and enriching history on display here. As you're making your travel plans, be sure to consider some of the ancient ruins and other sites. Many are Mayan monuments like Chichen Itza, Quintana Roo and others. You'll also be able to visit Aztec remnants at Teotihuacan, which is a short drive from Mexico City. But there's a lot more waiting for you to explore.
Find temples, pyramids, gathering places and so much more preserved in various stages of ruin. There are ceremonial monuments, performance areas and nearly 200 tombs. You can also find carvings in the rock walls and some interesting artifacts from ancient history. From hieroglyphs to intricate construction methods, this reveals the advancement of these early inhabitants. Then there are the natural wonders, including incredible mountains accenting many of the best destinations. And then there are the rain forests and other ecological environments on display.
5. Know When & Where to Visit
Since there is incredible coastline, steep mountain ranges and everything in between, choose your favorite before traveling in Mexico. But wherever you go, there are probably times more advantageous to an international traveler. You might just get a big plot of sand all for yourself on a beach in late summer. Of course, that's because the humidity level is likely very high, as is the temperature. In the months that follow, you'll have to keep in mind the approaching hurricane season.
On the other hand, the beginning of the year marks the peak of vacation season. It's typically filled with folks escaping the cold weather. And it is a perfect time to find out why traveling in Mexico can be a refreshing getaway. Even though you might see bigger crowds and more traffic, large cities can handle the influx of tourists. Of course, if you're a winter traveler, keep in mind the elevation shifts. If you start heading up a mountain, expect to find snow and frigid temperatures.
Beach resort destinations like Cancun offer a great experience with plenty aimed at tourists. But you might have more fun exploring a few spots not on everyone else's itinerary. The incredible architecture and beautiful views of San Miguel de Allende makes it a favorite among travelers. Then there is Mexico City, which gives visitors a taste of big city life with local culture integrated throughout. There are hidden gems all over. And as long as you keep your safety in mind, you can make a lot of great memories.
6. Learn As Much As You Can
There are a few basic things you'll probably want to familiarize yourself with before you enter the country. For starters, retain the ticket you receive upon entry to ensure an easy exit when you return. But Americans staying less than six months won't need their visas. Arriving and traveling in Mexico is fairly simple and inexpensive. Local airlines, public bus routes and much more offer you plenty of options.
You won't need to be fluent in Spanish to get along just fine during your trip. If you speak English, you'll find many of the large metropolitan areas and tourist spots oblige. Even if you know a bit of Spanish and think you're fluent, most of the locals will understand you perfectly. And you'll be free to speak as it comes naturally, enjoying the hospitality and luxury of your destination when traveling in Mexico.
Traveling in Mexico involves plenty of choices as you explore the options this nation provides.
And no matter where you choose, there is local charm ready to welcome you during your stay. Of course, some areas are more hospitable than others. So you'll need to remember the basic safeguards you'd want to employ during any trip abroad. And our guide is intended to help you set up the parameters of that preparation.
We hope we've made planning your next Mexican getaway a bit easier. If so, share this article with the world travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.