MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDE

MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDE

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BIENVENIDO A MÉXICO!

Mexico – the 14th largest country by landmass, and the 11th most populous, is home to 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza (a 7th wonder of the world). Wow! Mexico is also home to tequila (the country’s official drink), mariachis, El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), beer, the inventors of the birth control pill and color TV, Salma Hayek, chocolate, white sand beaches and beautiful coastal resorts, margaritas, professional wrestling, 59 varieties of corn, Plaza de Toros – the largest bullfighting ring in the world, telenovelas (soap operas), Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and, of course, tacos, tortas, tamales and tostadas (a.k.a. “Vitamin T”).

LANGUAGES IN MEXICO

The official language is Spanish; however, other regional majority languages include Nahuatl, Maya, and Mixtec. There are 68 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico. Additionally, English is very popular in Mexico with many Mexicans considering English their second or third language.

How's Your Spanish?

Need any easy way to brush up on your Spanish for your trip to Mexico?

MEXICAN CULTURE

83% of Mexicans are Catholic making Mexico the second-highest population of Catholics in the world (second to Brazil), which is interesting because the first birth control pill was invented by Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a Mexican.

Mexico City’s the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is considered one of the most highly visited pilgrimage sites in Mexico. Built on Mesoamerican civilizations going back 13,000 years, Catholicism was brought by the Spaniards when they colonized Mexico in the 16th century after conquering the Aztecs.

Mexico eventually became a sovereign nation with its independence from Spain in 1821. Throughout more changes and the Mexican Revolution, Mexico is now officially known as the United Mexican States, comprised of 31 states, including the capital, Mexico City.

Family is one of the most important elements in Mexican society and families are typically large.  Mexicans enjoy hosting parties at their homes. 

Mexican cuisine is widely diversified depending on the region you visit, still rice and corn are considered Mexican staples in addition to its tequila made from the agave cactus.  Soda is also widely popular in Mexico.

Mexicans are considered a warm, inviting and colorful people undoubtedly deriving from diverse indigenous and Spanish influences, which also reflect in their clothing, music and art.

POPULAR MEXICAN ACTIVITIES

Fútbol (soccer) is considered the national sport and baseball is also very popular.  Mexicans may also enjoy fishing, tennis, swimming, bicycling, track and field, jai alai and going to bullfights or rodeos.  Mexicans may observe the traditional siesta and enjoy participating in fiestas (parties) based around the family, religion, traditional cuisine, and holidays with music, dancing and even piñatas.

MEXICAN CURRENCY

Mexico uses the peso (MXN or $) – exchange rates are usually favorable for U.S. citizens at about 2 to 1. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.

MEXICO TRANSPORTATION

Mexico has all forms of transportation, including Carpoolworld, Uber, and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in your destination area). There are also taxis and rental cars, of course.

Mexico also has regional buses and a limited, regional passenger train, Chepe Express

TIPPING IN MEXICO

Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules.  That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated. 

What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc.  For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.

Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.

MEXICAN HOLIDAYS

A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays.  It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday.  It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday.  So take just a few moments to look at Mexico’s holidays.

MEXICO ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS

Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Mexico voltage is 127V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz and they use both Type A and Type B adapters, like the U.S.  Although you don’t have to bring an adapter, check your electronics – if you have one requiring a 3-prong outlet you may want to bring a Type B adapter just in case.  Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home.  If you are going to another country in addition to Mexico on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested global adapters below for your convenience.

Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK
471 Reviews
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK*
  • A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR MEXICO

From the U.S., you will need a valid passport at time of entry.  Visas are not required if your stay is less than 6 months. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Mexico.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

VACCINATIONS FOR MEXICO

Vaccinations may be advised or required for Mexico depending on your Mexican destination. Also, be aware of water quality and altitude advisories. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to  Mexico.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

MEXICO TRAVEL BOOKING

MEXICO ECOTOURISM TIPS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in Mexico. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Try to avoid flying in Mexico by taking a regional bus or the regional train, Chepe Express

When booking a rideshare in Mexico, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in Mexico.

ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Mexico Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Mexico certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!

ECO-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Mexico has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in Mexico. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel.  Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

MEXICO SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO TRAVEL MEXICO SAFELY

Yes, there may be some dangerous areas around the U.S.-Mexican border, and petty and violent crimes, including kidnapping, exist in the Mexico during the day and in tourist areas.  However, this should not deter you from visiting Mexico. 

As always, be smart and take precautions while traveling. Consult local and U.S.-based advisory boards in advance, if need be, but also do some research and link up with other tourists who have recently visited Mexico – they will offer great insights and advise!  A lot of the “Mexico is violent” hype is mostly just that – hype.  Remember, millions of people visit Mexico yearly and Mexico would like to see those tourist dollars keep coming back, especially in the high-tourist areas like the Mexican Riveria.

My number one rule for Mexico would be to not keep your ID or cash in your pocket or made easily visible.  Beyond that, my standard tips for female and solo travelers (or any traveler for that matter) are:

  • always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
  • always be “street wise”.
  • always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
  • never leave your food or drink unattended.
  • keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
  • be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
  • research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
  • if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.

MEXICO BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

BEST TIME TO VISIT MEXICO

Certainly, anyone would like to avoid the hurricane season in Mexico, which is June through November, and experience the drier season, yes? Consider this dry season – peak season – is when the costs will go up, of course, but there is still a good time to go when weather is warm and prices lower:  April and May.  Touristy areas, like Cancún, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City – are going to be pricier than the lesser known cities or regions of Mexico.  If you’re not afraid to explore and have done your safety research, Mexico can offer inexpensive travel destinations.

PERSONAL STORY

Like Canada, my country also borders Mexico and, like Canada, it’s amazing how little time I’ve spent in Mexico. I have been to Cancún and Tijuana, but I confess this is not enough considering all that Mexico has to offer. Top on my Mexico bucket list are to go scuba diving, see the Baja Peninsula coastline, whale watch, dive, and do some tequila tasting. Yum. Yes, and hit some of those amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino and the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

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CORR Travel
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