52 Mexico Travel Tips to Know Before You Go (Your Local’s Guide)

Looking for Mexico travel tips to help you plan your Mexican adventure? Look no further. 

All of the answers to your burning questions about traveling to Mexico are covered here. These are a mixture of things you absolutely need to know, and those you never even knew you needed. 

Better still? They have been written by someone who actually lives in Mexico. 

52 Mexico Travel Tips to Know Before You Go

A 180 Day Tourist Visa is Not Guaranteed 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Citizens of most countries are permitted to stay in Mexico for up to a maximum of 180 days without a visa. This equates to just under six months.

Until recently, you could simply enter Mexico, and give the Immigration Officer a brief overview of what you planned to see and do on arrival. Then, you would be automatically given a tourist card (FMM) for 180 days. Not anymore.

Now, Mexico is cracking down on people who abuse the 180-day tourist visa. This stems from an ultimatum to Mexico from the United States that the country needs to exert better control over its borders. 

The crackdown seems to target two main groups. Firstly, it addresses the problem of Central and South Americans that enter Mexico indefinitely with the view to crossing illegally into the United States. 

Secondly, it addresses “snowbirds” and Digital Nomads staying in the country without the correct visas. Be prepared to show your itinerary, proof of accommodation, onward travel information, and proof of funds at the airport. 

You may not be asked for this, but the questions asked and the days given depend on the specific Immigration Officer that you deal with. If you are traveling to Mexico for a short 1-2 week vacation, you will be fine. 

If you are a long-term traveler or you have a history of repeatedly entering Mexico, you may be asked more questions. Remember that Mexican border staff has electronic records of when you entered and exited the country so don’t try to outsmart them. 

Be Prepared to Show Your FMM at All Times 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

As part of the crackdown on people overstaying in Mexico, it has become more common for authorities to check people’s paperwork. This happens frequently in areas that are popular among tourists like Tulum, Cancun, and other parts of Quintana Roo state.

It also happens a lot in Chiapas, and areas close to any form of land border between Mexico and another country. Theoretically, you could be asked to show your FMM card at any time and present it straight away. 

In reality, this may or may not happen to you. Ideally, you should carry your passport and FMM with you at all times. 

If you feel anxious about doing that, you can take photos of them both on your phone and show that to whoever asks. Sometimes, when driving around Mexico, you may pass through police checkpoints – especially at state borders. 

The police are looking for illegals, drugs, and guns. But you could be unfortunate enough to be stopped.

It is always good practice to take photographs of all of your important documents, bank cards, and ID documents. That way, you have the information available on your phone. Store these on your phone and upload them to the cloud/email them to yourself for safekeeping. 

Read Up on Mexico Entry Requirements 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Mexicos entry requirements could be subject to change at any time. This could happen for any manner of reasons, not specifically related to the global pandemic. 

Depending on where you are from, you may be permitted to travel in Mexico for up to 180 days visa-free or you may require a visa. Check your local government’s travel advice in advance of booking your trip. 

You will need to fill out an immigration form (FMM) before your trip to Mexico. It is possible to complete this online in advance via the Mexican government website here

However, you need to present a physical copy to Mexican Immigration. This form is handed out on all international flights to Mexico so sometimes it is just easier to fill it in on the plane. 

There are no vaccine or testing requirements to enter Mexico at the moment. You simply need to fill out a small health form which you will be handed at check-in in your own country. 

Be Careful Not to Lose Your FMM 

Once you enter Mexico with your FMM in hand, be careful not to lose it. You will need to present this when you leave the country.

Losing it isn’t the end of the word, but it is an annoyance that will cost you extra money. In the event that you do misplace your FMM card, head to the nearest immigration office and request a new one.

A replacement should cost you approximately $25. Keep in mind that bureaucracy and red tape is a huge issue in Mexico.

So, you may find yourself going back and forth to the immigration office filling in a lot of paperwork before you receive your replacement. This hassle should be a warning to make sure that you keep the card extra safe!

Yes, Mexico is Safe, with Precautions 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Mexico is a safe travel destination, provided that you use common sense and take precautions when you travel. This means not walking around alone at night, researching safe neighborhoods, being aware of your surroundings, and being wary of over-friendly strangers.

In other words, staying safe in Mexico requires the same kind of common sense that you should use when traveling anywhere else in the world. Mexico often gets an unfairly bad reputation as being a dangerous country rife with kidnapping, narcos, and organized and petty crime.

While there is no smoke without fire, the dangerous parts of Mexico are confined to border towns and areas where you have no business going as a tourist anyway. Generally speaking, if you don’t go looking for trouble in Mexico, you will not find it. 

When you hear negative things about Mexico, remember the importance of keeping everything in perspective. Sure, bad things do happen occasionally. 

However, when you consider the fact that 41 million tourists travel to Mexico each year, it puts it all in perspective. Most trips to Mexico are trouble-free. 

Uber Exists in Parts of Mexico 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Uber exists in some parts of Mexico and the locals prefer to use apps like this, as opposed to taking street taxis. In Mexico, you will also find DiDi – an alternative ride app that is often much cheaper to use.

To download DiDi though, you will need to change the settings on your phone and your Apple/Android account (as applicable). Your location needs to be set to Mexico before you will even be able to find the app in the App Store to be able to download it. 

These ride apps come with additional security features that you simply do not have if you hail a random taxi on the street. For instance, you can share your ride info with friends and family, you have the driver’s name and number plate and with Didi, you can audio record your route.

In Mexico, Uber operates in Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Merida, Mexicali, Mexico City, Monterrey, Progreso, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende and Tijuana. It does NOT operate in Cancun, Tulum or anywhere else in the Maya Riviera/state of Quintana Roo. 

Venture Off the Beaten Path 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

A lot of people that travel to Mexico stick to the same few places, especially if they are traveling in search of the sun. Destinations like Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, PDC, Puerto Vallarta, and Sayulita constantly rank at the top of people’s Mexico bucket lists.

While these places are beautiful and popular for a reason, they have been massive victims of gentrification. In recent years, prices have risen dramatically in some parts of the Maya Riviera.

You will often find more tourists than locals and little opportunity to immerse yourself in the “real” Mexican culture and Mexican traditions. So, consider thinking outside the box. 

You can craft a Mexico itinerary that combines the popular destinations that everyone raves about (Tulum, Cancun, et al) and the lesser-known ones. For instance, remote Yucatan beaches, the sleepy  beach town of El Cuyo, the indigenous villages of Chiapas or the Pueblos Magicos of Jalisco.  

You Cannot Drink the Water 

You cannot drink the water in Mexico. At all.

Even locals do not drink it and it is imperative that you purchase bottled water. Generally, the water in Mexico is purified at the source.

So why can’t you drink it? Unfortunately, because #Mexico, the pipes and distribution systems are often old, faulty, and damaged and so, the water can sometimes become contaminated on its journey to your tap.

There have been instances of people getting very unwell from the water. You will never really know if it is going to make you sick or not until you try it and it is just not worth the risk. 

Most Airbnbs and hotels in Mexico will provide you with some bottled water when you check-in. Some upscale hotels and resorts may have potable water on site.

If they do, they will have a sign stating this – don’t just assume and drink the water! If in doubt, ask! 

It is a good idea to purchase a reusable water bottle prior to your trip to Mexico. This not only helps you to save on plastic waste but reusable bottles are made in such a way that they keep the water cool in your backpack throughout the day.

You can purchase large, multi-liter bottles of water from convenience stores and supermarkets. Then, fill up your reusable bottle each morning before heading out on a day’s sightseeing!

Check Entrance Information Before Heading to Sites 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Sometimes you will be checking for information on buses or museum/archeological site opening times and you will find that you simply cannot find much information online. Welcome to Mexico!

Occasionally, Google Maps will display a ruin or a museum as being “temporarily closed” yet there is no official information stating such on the tourism/business website. Try and check in advance of traveling to the site if you can.

Things can close suddenly for maintenance or for bizarre political reasons without warning. For instance, the Dzibilchaltun archeological site in the Yucatan and the Coba ruins in Quintana Roo are frequently closed with no notice due to ongoing arguments between the government and landowners.

You don’t want to trek all the way somewhere, get to the gates and then it’s closed. So always do a quick Google of the ruin/site you are on your way to before heading out. 

Visit Lesser Known Ruins and Maya Sites 

Visit lesser-known Maya ruins
Visit lesser-known Maya ruins

Chichen Itza and Palenque are perhaps the best-known Maya ruins in Mexico. But did you know that Mexico is actually home to more than 200 Mayan sites?

Chichen Itza and Palenque are absolutely worth visiting and should be high on your list of things to see in Mexico. Chichen Itza, in particular, is one of the “new” seven wonders of the world after all! 

But one of the best Mexico travel tips? Don’t overlook lesser-known archaeological sites which are just as worthy of your time and often without the crowds.

You can easily squeeze a few additional ruins into your itinerary. Because the sites are so different and filled with history, you never have a feeling of “once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”.

Mayapan is a great place to add to your radar. The city is considered as being the last great Mayan settlement and indeed, King Kukulkan II and his people relocated here following the fall of Chichen Itza.

The Edzna ruins in Campeche state are so remote that you will often find that you are the only tourist there. Meanwhile, Calakmul, deep in the tropical forest of the Tierras Bajas is one of the largest and most important Maya sites.  

Be Careful with Street Cabs 

Nobody wants to hear negative things about the country they are planning to travel to but it is important to be realistic when planning your trip to Mexico. Generally speaking, you are better to take cabs using apps like Uber and Didi in Mexico rather than take cabs on the street.

In some places, you really have no other choice than to take a city taxi. If you do, take one from a rank rather than hailing one at random.

Alternatively, have your hotel/hostel organize one on your behalf or save the details of a reputable local firm. Negative encounters with street cabs may be rare but they do happen occasionally, particularly in more off the beaten path states.

One minor thing that could happen is that the cab driver sees that you are foreign, assumes that you do not know the going rate of things, and overcharges you. In the worst-case scenario, you could be the victim of an express kidnapping.

Express kidnappings happen when someone is driving a cab and poses as a taxi driver. When the tourist gets in the vehicle, other sketchy people enter and force the tourist to hand over their cash and valuables and withdraw the maximum amount of money from various ATMs.

Sometimes this is done at gunpoint. The main motive is money and there is generally no intent to harm the person but this is no doubt traumatic and absolutely something that you want to avoid. 

Take Time to Visit Pueblos Magicos 

Sisal Pueblos Magico
Sisal Pueblos Magico

As you travel around Mexico, you will see towns that are designated as “Pueblos Magicos”. If you see one nearby, this is definitely a place that you should research and consider visiting.

Pueblos Magicos are charming Mexican settlements that have been recognized by the Mexican government’s Secretary of Tourism for their unique appeal. They may boast unique local gastronomy, breathtaking natural beauty, quaint historic charm, or any combination of the three.

Think of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos” status as a sort of Mexican domestic UNESCO recognition if you will. There are currently 132 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico and the list is no doubt set to expand in the future.

Towns must meet certain criteria and layout an action plan on how they plan to attract and entertain tourists if they want to be considered as Pueblos Magicos. Tulum, Valladolid, and Izamal are perhaps some of the best-known towns to have this accreditation. 

Follow Your Government Travel Advisory for Information 

Your government travel advice is an invaluable source of information for anywhere you travel. The UK and USA travel advisory is particularly useful and they are updated regularly.

Some of the wording can be a little stern so take some of what you read with a pinch of salt. Do take heed of the advisory’s state-by-state warning.

The US travel advisory breaks down the various Mexican states into the three categories of “do not travel”, “reconsider travel”, “exercise increased caution” and “exercise normal caution”.

You want to pay attention to the “do not travel” states. These are generally places rife with crime and cartel activity. If you are planning to travel to them, stick to safe areas and be mindful of how you plan to get from city to city. 

Purchase Comprehensive Travel Insurance 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

It is imperative that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance before your trip to Mexico. You should always ensure that you have insurance before traveling anywhere as you never know what may happen.

As a rule of thumb, try to purchase an insurance plan that has at least a million dollars worth of medical coverage. It is a good idea to purchase a plan that comes with additional features such as repatriation, protection for loss/theft of luggage, protection for expensive electrical items, etc.

With the best will in the world, you never know what may happen when you travel and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Overseas medical bills can be expensive.

Always read the small print when purchasing an insurance plan. Sporting activities are seldom included in standard plans, not even hiking.

When you have purchased your coverage, print out the confirmation or at the very least, take a screenshot or write down your policy number. Should you be unfortunate enough to need assistance overseas, this will be the first thing they ask for before offering any help. 

Be Smart About Managing Your Money 

Be mindful about how you manage your money when you travel. It is a good idea to carry multiple bank cards and leave some in your hotel or in your luggage while you are out exploring.

That way, if you happen to lose a card or your purse/wallet, you know that you do not have to worry about not being able to access your funds. Similarly, you might want to keep an emergency fund of at least $50/$100 hidden deep in your suitcase for the worst-case scenario.

Take photos of your bank cards and back the photos up to the cloud so that you have all of your details should anything happen to the physical cards. Make sure that you have your banks mobile banking app downloaded on your phone so that you can easily manage your accounts remotely or IM your bank in an emergency, rather than having to call internationally. 

Ensure You Have a Borderless Bank Account 

Having a borderless bank account is an absolute must when you travel internationally. Fees incurred from withdrawing cash from ATMs on an international debit card, or simply using your debit card for store/restaurant purchases can quickly mount up.

In fact, when you withdraw money from a Mexican ATM, you may find that for a $250 withdrawal, you have fees as high as $20! The fees charged by the Mexican banks and your own country’s bank are substantial in themselves.

Moreover, you are likely to have to agree to an additional access fee of around 50-80 pesos before using the ATM. Add to that the poor conversion rates and the entire experience of using your debit card in Mexico is just unnecessarily expensive.

Avoid this by opening a borderless bank account that offers zero fees on international withdrawals and transactions. Wise, Revolut and Charles Schwab are all borderless bank accounts to be aware of. 

Buses Are an Excellent Way to Get Around 

Public transport in Mexico on the whole still leaves a little to be desired. You may find that you have to make multiple connections even to get to important ruins and tourist sites.

However that being said, connections between major cities are generally pretty good. ADO and Noreste buses run between major tourist cities in Mexico such as Cancun to Merida, Merida to Chichen Itza, and Cancun to Tulum.

Rome 2 Rio is a good resource to use to check the latest bus schedules, routes, and rates. ADO buses are Mexico’s premier bus network and the services are very modern, clean, and comfortable.

ADO buses boast air conditioning, complimentary wifi, and reclining seats. You can use the ADO website and app to purchase tickets.

They are both only available in Spanish but even if you have no Spanish language skills, they are pretty self-explanatory. This way, you can purchase mobile tickets. 

You will receive an email with a QR code that you can simply show the driver on your phone while boarding. This will also display your seat number. 

Use Theft Proof Bags and Luggage for Peace of Mind 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Mexico can be a safe place to travel but unfortunately, petty crime is still very common. This is often an opportunistic crime and is a particular problem in crowded marketplaces.

Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and if you can, walk with your backpack on your front if you are navigating your way through crowded mercados. A theft-proof backpack can be a good investment.

They are a little pricier than a regular backpack, sure. But they are slash-proof (to prevent someone from cutting your bag open with a knife), waterproof, and have a TSA-approved locking system.

They are both durable and stylish and most companies, like Pacsafe, offer a long multi-year warranty. You can also find theft-proof luggage and fanny packs if you prefer.  

Toilet Paper Should Not be Flushed 

The plumbing system in Mexico is not quite as robust as those in other countries. As such, you should avoid flushing paper down the toilet. 

There will always be a trashcan located next to the bin and a sign reminding you not to flush paper. It is best to heed this advice as you don’t want to deal with an unpleasant clog in your hotel room.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try the Street Food 

A lot of people make the assumption that traveling to Mexico is synonymous with getting sick. It doesn’t have to be.

For every person that experiences Montezumas Revenge, there are plenty of people that spend weeks or months traveling in Mexico and do not get sick. Mexican street food is a huge part of the local food culture.

If you avoid it, you are missing a huge part of the Mexico travel experience. Mexico boasts some of the best street food in the world.

Look out for elotes – grilled corn on the cob served slathered in mayonnaise, chili powder, and fresh lime juice. Homemade churros are not to be missed and in the Yucatan order marquesitas – crepes that are rolled up like a pita wrap and filled with Queso de Bola cheese or chocolate sauce.

Use the same common sense when choosing street food places in Mexico as you would anywhere else. If a vendor has a long queue of locals beside it, it is generally a good indication that it is a good place to eat. 

Don’t eat at places where meat or fruit has been sitting out or there are flies swarming around. Always carry hand sanitizer and clean your hands before and after eating. 

Purchase Reef-Safe Sunscreen 

If you are traveling to Mexico, you need to purchase reef-safe sunscreen. Standard store-bought sunscreens contain chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to the natural ecosystems found in coral reefs and cenotes.

Some areas around the Maya Riviera, including Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen have enforced a law to ensure that tourists use reef-safe sunscreen when traveling. In other parts of Mexico, like Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo, this is not regulated.

However, in the interests of being an ethical, mindful traveler, it is a good idea to only use reef-safe sunscreen. Some cenotes in the Yucatan will require you to shower before entry to remove any dirt and dangerous chemicals such as those from sunscreen. 

Take Walking Tours to Get Your Bearings in New Places 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

Taking a walking tour is a good way to get your bearings in a new town or city. Opt to do one soon after arriving in a new city in order to get a lay of the land.

Not only do walking tours provide more historic context and help you to stumble across places that you may not have found independently, but they also mean that you have a local expert on hand to ask any questions that you may need. A local guide can advise you on the best places to eat, drink and hang out in the area. 

You may want to take a tour that follows a particular theme. For instance, a street food tour may interest you if you consider yourself a foodie or a market tour with a cooking class. 

Know the Best Times to Travel 

Mexico is a pretty good year-round travel destination and the temperatures are always hot and pleasant in most parts of the country, whatever time you travel. That being said, because Mexico is so vast, the weather conditions vary significantly from one part of the country to another.

Winter in Mexico runs from December to April and is considered the dry season. In the southern parts of the country, it gets very wet, humid, and rainy from May until October with the threat of hurricanes in the late summer months.

Prices are often higher during the dry season, with popular hotels along the Riviera Maya often booked to full occupancy and crowds of tourists occupying some areas. From December to April, you can expect warm, balmy days and temperatures of around 28-30 degrees celsius.

From May onwards, it does get very hot and humid. But if you don’t mind contending with occasional rain showers, prices can be cheaper at this time and there are far fewer tourists.

Check the specific weather conditions for the particular part of Mexico you plan on traveling to. For instance, in Central Mexico and areas like San Cristobal de Las Casas, it can be downright chilly during the winter months. You will absolutely need a jacket, especially in the evenings.

Domestic Flights Are a Convenient and Affordable Way to Get Around 

Mexico is vast. While renting a car and taking buses are good ways to get around within states, if you are planning on visiting various states during your itinerary, you will need to take domestic flights. 

Fortunately, the country has a well-developed and extensive network of domestic airports and airlines. Mexican airports offer the same amenities as you would expect anywhere else in the world – restaurants and stores, wifi, air conditioning, and ATMs. 

Aero Mexico, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris are among the main Mexican airlines. Viva Aerobus is a budget airline and they are to Mexico what Ryanair or Wizz Air is to Europe, or what Spirit and Frontier airlines are to the United States. 

They often get a bad rep but they get you from A to B. Sometimes, you will find that their flights are delayed and people will often warn you against using them.

Mexican budget airlines are fine if you manage your expectations and accept that it will be a no-frills experience. You may find that sometimes Viva Aerobus is your only option for a certain route so it’s either go with them or don’t visit that destination. 

Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself As a Tourist

Your physical appearance may make it obvious that you are not from Mexico but at the same time, you don’t need to draw unnecessary attention to yourself as a tourist. In other words, don’t wear expensive jewelry, have flashy cameras around your neck, or wear designer labels.

About 44% of the population in Mexico lives below the poverty line. Most people here are very friendly, welcoming, and hospitable to tourists.

But you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself as a tourist or look like someone has money. You won’t see people flashing their brand labels in Mexico so leave these items at home. 

Purchase a Door Stopper with an Alarm

A good safety item to have in Mexico and practically anywhere is a door stopper with an alarm. If you are staying in an Airbnb, you don’t really know who has access to your accommodation beside you.

Similarly, although hotel break-ins are rare, the risk is never zero. A wedge doorstop can prevent someone from getting in your room and if they do, a loud siren will sound.

These items are portable and do not require any wiring. They will easily fit into the bottom of your suitcase. 

Be Aware of Mexico Travel Groups and Forums 

There are a lot of excellent Facebook travel groups dedicated to exploring Mexico. These can be good places to ask for advice from people that live in Mexico or have traveled in the country extensively. 

In Mexico, almost everything is done via Facebook and so you might even be able to find short, medium, and long-term accommodation options here too. Similarly, if you are traveling solo, you can easily make a post in one of these groups and find like-minded travelers to grab dinner or hang out with.

Some useful Mexico travel Facebook groups are detailed below. 

  • Backpacking Mexico

  • On the Road in Mexico

  • Female Travelers in Mexico

  • Mexico Travel Community

  • Foreigners in Mexico

  • Digital Nomads Mexico

  • Expats in Mexico 

Pack a Comprehensive Travel Medikit 

Pack a comprehensive travel medikit for your trip to Mexico as you never know what may happen. You can purchase pre-packed medikits that contain all of the essentials like gauze, bandaids, scissors, alcohol wipes, etc.

Then, you can add in your own medications as required. Mosquitos are rife in Mexico and they carry diseases like dengue and zika virus.

As such, mosquito repellent spray and soothing cream for bites are essential. You may also want to pack some antihistamine tablets for the eventuality of an adverse reaction. 

Rehydration sachets and pills such as Immodium are a good idea in case Montezumas revenge decides to strike. Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can never go amiss.

Buy a Mexican Sim Card on Arrival 

A Mexican sim card is a good way to stay connected during your trip. Fortunately, they are very cheap and easy to pick up.

You can buy a Telcel sim card from any OXXO, 7/11, or Mexican convenience store and you do not have to complete any paperwork or show any identification. For 200 pesos ($9.75), you can get 3GB of data, unlimited social media usage, and unlimited calls and texts within the Americas for 30 days. 

Be Social Media Smart 

Be conscious of your social media use when you travel, especially if you are traveling solo and especially if your profiles are set to public. It can be tempting to share all of the exciting things that you are up to on your Instagram in real-time but the reality is that you never know who is watching what you are doing. 

People can easily find you through geotags and hashtags. Keep your friends and family informed of what you are doing but post your public updates only after you have left somewhere.

Hiring a Car is a Great Way to Get Around 

Renting a car in Mexico is not as intimidating as it may seem. Opting to do so gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility of schedule.

Public transport in Mexico can be okay if you just plan on traveling around touristy areas like the Yucatan and Quintana Roo or on taking day trips from Mexico City. However, if you have a car, you do not have to adhere to bus times.

Better yet, you can stop off at charming remote villages, haciendas, cenotes, and ruins that may have been difficult to get to otherwise. It typically costs between $15-25 a day to rent a car in Mexico depending on the season and where you are picking your car up from.

Driving here is not as chaotic as you may envisage. In fact, you could say that a lot of drivers in Mexico are extra cautious because nobody wants to have to deal with the police if they don’t have to. Penalties for speeding, not wearing seatbelts, dangerous driving, etc, are steep. 

Download Offline Maps 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

It is a good idea to download offline map apps such as Maps Me when traveling in Mexico. This is particularly true if you are planning on driving. 

Most parts of the country have 4G coverage and 5G does exist in a few limited areas around major cities. However, there are also definitely places where there is no data or phone signal whatsoever. 

You can be on a remote country road en route to a Mayan ruin and realize that you have completely lost all manner of a signal. While road signs are easy enough to follow, nothing beats having a GPS so be sure to download an offline map before your trip. 

Try to Learn a Little Spanish

Most people in Mexico speak little to no English. Along the Riviera Maya and in the Yucatan, you will find that some staff in tourist businesses speak a little English but your conversations with people will be very limited.

It may not be realistic to expect to obtain any level of fluency before your trip. However, learning a little Spanish is always appreciated.

Even just learning simple phrases like good morning (buenos dias), good afternoon (buenos tardes) and goodnight (buenos noches) is polite. Duolingo is a great free app to help you learn useful Spanish words and phrases in advance of your trip. You may also find it useful to carry a small Spanish phrasebook. 

Download Google Translate 

Google Translate can be a lifesaver in situations where you are struggling to communicate with people who do not speak English when you have limited Spanish. The translations may not be perfect, sure.

However, they help get the message across. You can simply type out the sentence that you are trying to translate, watch it get translated to Spanish, and then hold the phone up to the other person.

If you feel rude, just say “Lo siento” (I’m sorry). You can also play the translation out as audio.

Always Carry Cash 

Cash is King in Mexico. Although a lot of restaurants, stores, and businesses in large towns and cities do have POS machines, not everywhere does. 

When you get to smaller towns and villages, you will find that cash is your only payment option. Some small towns, like Rio Lagartos, do not even have an ATM. 

So, make sure that you withdraw enough money to last you a while when you leave the cities to head towards more remote areas. Road tolls, archeological site entry fees, cenote entrance fees, tour guides, parking fees, etc all need to be paid in cash.

Apply for Temporary Residency if You Want to Stay Longer 

Mexico travel tips
Mexico travel tips

If you want to spend longer than six months in Mexico, you may want to consider applying for temporary residency. This is a good idea even if you don’t see yourself staying in Mexico indefinitely.

Historically, could easily live in Mexico on a tourist visa and simply run across the border every six months. Mexico is cracking down on that now and it is better to do everything above board if you are planning on sticking around. 

It is relatively easy to obtain residency in Mexico provided that you meet the entry requirements. You need to apply at the Mexican embassy/consulate in your own country and prove economic solvency.

Specifics vary depending on where you are from. However, generally, you need to prove that your income/pension earns you more than $2100 a month after tax and that you have at least $40,000 USD in savings. 


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. She has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.