Mexico has always been a popular destination for international travelers! Is it your first visit to the country or just looking for a quick refresher before your travel to Mexico? Well, we got you covered! On our last trip, we made a list of both common, random, and fun tips for traveling to Mexico! From what hot sauce to watch out for to the one new document you have to keep safe, and much more.
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50 Tips To Know Before You Travel to Mexico
1. Travel Insurance: You should never travel abroad without insurance! Having travel insurance will provide peace of mind on your vacation. Personally, we’ve been using SafetyWing while working remotely for the last several years.
2. Medical Kit: While everything from Tylenol to more intense pharmaceuticals are sold everywhere over the counter, you should still bring the basics. We always have a small medical kit that has items such as Neosporin, bandaids, electrolytes, and more go-to items.
3. Shoes: When packing remembers your sneakers. Even if you’re planning a tropical beach vacation Mexico offers a range of fun activities that you’ll likely need shoes for.
4. Clothing: We know it’s a vacation and you want to look nice. Yet, if you’re hitting the beach it’s going to be HOT so plan for some loose and comfortable clothing.5. Luggage: If you plan to travel to Mexico you may want to consider ditching your rolling suitcase for a travel backpack.
6. Flights: The flights are cheap when traveling in Mexico and connect to all major hubs outside the country. We recommend using Aeromexico airlines which is a SkyTeam alliance partner and avoiding Volaris which is basically a worse Spirit or Ryan Air.
7. Visas & Requirements: Double-check before you travel to Mexico and again when booking your flight! In this world, visa and pre-travel requirements can change fast.
8. Basic Spanish: When traveling abroad it’s always important at a minimum to learn some basic words in the local language before you go. You can also use the free Duolingo app or a more intense program like Rosetta Stone!
Arriving in Mexico Travel Tips
9. Customs: Plan for slow customs especially if you are arriving on a large flight. Even though we filled out all our forms for Mexico before arriving the airline made us do completely different paperwork once we landed.
10. Mexican Pesos: Take a look at the conversion rate before arriving. We use Charles Schwab while abroad as they reimburse us for all our overseas transaction fees at ATMs.
11. Airport Transfer: When booking your accommodations, ask what is the best way to get there from your airport. After a long day of traveling, we often book a private transfer through our hotel if it’s a far distance. Nevertheless, your hotel should provide you with all options for transfers, and an estimated cost for a taxi.
12. Extended Stay: At the time of writing this US citizens are able to stay in Mexico for 180 days! Be sure to check the visa duration before your travel to Mexico. If you work remotely or want to go abroad for an extended time, the long visa makes Mexico a good option. There are also some great cities like Puerto Vallarta that cater to digital nomads!
Small Customs Paper
13. Customs Paper: Listen up! This is the MOST IMPORTANT of all our Mexico tips to remember. When arriving in Mexico you are given an immigration form to fill out. This small piece of paper is mandatory to leave the country.
So what happens if you don’t have it? Well if you check in for your flight home and can’t find it get ready for a major headache. You not only have to pay a large fine for losing it but you also may be sent to a Mexican court that is located in the airport.
Also, if you don’t do all this on time you’ll miss your flight and be forced to pay out of pocket for a new one!
Needless to say along with your passport, this is one of the most important things to keep safe when traveling to Mexico.
Random Tech Tips
14. SIM Card: See if your phone plan carriers over to Mexico or can be added for a small cost. If you’re looking for a sim card Telcel is a popular company.
15. VPN: To protect your information and data it’s best to use a VPN while in Mexico. We recommend Norton Secure VPN which costs just a few dollars a month for the annual plan.
16. Wifi: Be aware that cell service can be spotty in Mexico, especially when traveling outside the major cities. If you need wifi for work you will want to stick to the populated areas and confirm their connection speed before booking your accommodation.
Weather in Mexico
17. Seasons: Mexico has a wet season running from May to October, and a dry season from October to April. The peak travel season is typically from December to April.
18. Seaweed: There is a macro algae called sargassum that are typically seen on the Caribbean coast. This is mostly found during the rainy seasons.
19. Different Climates: Mexico is a massive country and has many different climates. From the tropical beaches of Tulum and Cancun to the higher altitude Mexico City and Oaxaca, be ready for a range of climates depending on your Mexico travel.
→ Check out our article on Planning a Trip to Mexico for more helpful tips!
Money Tips for Travel to Mexico
20. Price: If it isn’t clearly listed always ask the price before ordering a meal. If not, you may risk getting slightly ripped off when it comes time to pay.
21: Pay with Pesos: Although some places may accept dollars it is always a better rate of exchange to pay in local currency.
22. USD: It’s still good to carry some US dollars just in case you can’t find an ATM or isn’t not working for some reason. This is common in many of the small towns. The ATMs in Sayulita Mexico ran out of money so we had to exchange USD until they were fixed the next day!
23. ATM’s: ATMs are found in all major cities and beach towns. We recommend using the ones connected to actual banks if possible.
24. Tipping: Tipping is not required during your travel to Mexico. However, you will find the service often goes above and beyond your expectations and even a small tip goes a long way. Sometimes gratuity is included but only at upscale hotels and restaurants.
Traveling to Mexico Safety Tips
25. Scams: Keep an eye out for scams when traveling to Mexico. Common scams include fake taxis, faulty ATMs, and police impersonators.
26. Taxis: Always ride with an authorized taxi. One of our best Mexico tips is to hire private transfers through your accommodation. If you are going to take a taxi ask the price before you get in and agree to the ride.
27. Haggling: Haggling is an art in itself and can be a tricky business in Mexico. Vendors may start at a higher price, but most are willing to negotiate.
Eating and Drinking
28. Water Warning: Don’t drink the tap water! Make sure to always buy bottled water when traveling to Mexico. Some places provide large tanks or you can ask your accommodation to help get you one.
29. Street Food: Street food is one of the best parts of Mexico travel! It’s impossible to know what could make you sick. Still, keep an eye out for meat that’s been out too long or other unsanitary conditions. We wrote a post about tips for eating street food in Asia but you might find it helpful as well!
30: Fruit Stands: There are amazing fruit stands all over Mexico. This is a great place to buy cheap fruit and also sample some of the unique and local items that you might not be used to.
31. Iodine: It is very important that you properly wash your fruit and vegetables. You can buy small iodine bottles or confirm that they come with your rental. Follow the instructions for soaking fruit and vegetables with iodine in water before consuming.
32: Beach Snacks: Don’t be surprised if you see people walking past you on the beach with delicious treats! We’ve seen everything from cold beers and ceviche to donuts and shrimp skewers. Try some unique snacks. but do so carefully and use common sense with what you order.
Mexico Tips for the Bathroom
33. M = Mujeres: In the United States when you see an M on the bathroom door at a restaurant you rightfully think MEN. Well in Spanish M actually stands for Mujeres which means women. Make sure you’re going into the right bathroom!
34. Brushing Teeth: We mentioned before that you can’t drink tap water in Mexico and that also goes for brushing your teeth. If you’re never done it before it might be strange to use a water bottle, but you’ll quickly get used to the change!
35. TP: Toilet paper goes in the trash, not the toilet. When traveling to Mexico keep in this mind! At most hotels and restaurants there will be a small wastebasket next to the toilet where you can throw away your used TP.
36. Cold Showers: In many parts of Mexico the weather is extremely hot. This means you’ll be switching from a hot morning shower to an ice-cold one, maybe even several times a day!
Heath Tips for Mexico
37. Fan Vs AC: Depending on your accommodation, many budget options don’t offer air conditioning. While this is a personal preference make sure to confirm you have what you need.
38. Electrolit: This drink is sold at every pharmacy and cornerstone and is used to increase the vitamins and electrolytes.
39. Tums & Imodium: Word of warning! Never, ever, leave home without some Tums and Imodium. From spicy sauces to hearty beans to deep-fried tacos, your stomach might need some time to get used to all the delicious food in Mexico.
40. Montezuma’s Revenge: More commonly known as travelers diarrhea, this is unfortunately extremely common when traveling to Mexico. It typically only lasts 1-2 days so make sure to drink lots of liquids and seek medical attention if you do not improve.
41. ER/Clinic: If for some reason you need to visit the ER or travel Clinic while aboard visit one that caters specifically to tourists. There you are more likely to find English-speaking doctors. If you need help locating one your accommodation should be able to help or you can contact your insurance.
42. Poisonous Animals: Mexico has its share of poisonous as well as generally dangerous animals. You could run into everything from rattlesnakes and scorpions to yellow-bellied sea snakes and box jellyfish. This shouldn’t stop you from having fun because almost every destination has its own creepy crawlers. Just more something to be aware of during your Mexico travel!
43. Check your Shoes: Word of warning… In most tropical destinations, always check your shoes or hang them out of reach. You never want to slide your foot into your sneaker only to find out too late that something has crawled inside. When traveling to Mexico we use a zip-up shoe bag or find somewhere to hang our sneakers outside.
44. Bug Nets: If your accommodation has a bug net hanging that is a good sign that you should be using it. Also, if you set it up correctly you can sleep with added peace of mind that there won’t be anything crawling into your bed at night.
45. Stray Animals: Mexico is known for having many stray animals especially dogs. Best to keep your distance as you never know if they are aggressive or may carry harmful diseases.
Random Traveling to Mexico Tips
46. Red Lights: Don’t be alarmed if in Mexico’s cities you are offered to buy something when stopped at red lights. It’s common to be offered souvenirs or pastries if your window is down.
47: Announcements: Also passing cars will make announcements about what they are selling that day on a loudspeaker. The loudspeakers are used to try to draw people from their homes down to buy their daily goods.
48. Indoor/Outdoor: If you decide to ditch your hotel for a more traditional stay it is common to find an open-air living style. That means while your bedroom might have four walls your kitchen and living area are actually located outside!
49. Staying Safe: While this is a top travel destination there are some key Mexico tips for staying safe. From rental car scams to watching our drinks during the night, and traveling in a group. Take the same precautions to stay safe as you would when traveling to any foreign country.
50. Celebrations: Mexico is known for its many unique festivals holidays! Check your dates to see if it falls on any holiday as there might be a higher demand for hotels.
Do you have any stories or advice to share from your own travel to Mexico? Let us know your tips for Mexico in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Mexico Travel Planning
Information: Explore all our Mexico articles, amazing destinations around the world, travel planning tips, street food guides, and so much more.
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we found flights from LAX to Puerto Vallarta for $80 USD!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com, Agoda, & Vrbo!
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. While renting a car in Mexico make sure to go with a well known company and have good insurance!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find thousands of activities around the world. From street food tours to skip the line entry passes!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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Another scam to be aware of is gas station attendants charging you for more than they actually pump. Check the amount on the pump before the attendant begins. Honest ones (meaning most outside of predominantly tourist areas) will actually show you that the pump is starting at “zero.” That is why.
Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for the tip!