You are about to take a well-deserved vacation and you have decided on Mexico. You might think that traveling to Mexico is an open and shut case, but you need some preparation prior to travel. Knowing some first-time travelers tips is definitely handy.
Mexico is huge and measures close to 2 million square kilometers! It has jungles, deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers and so much more. It is possible to visit Mexico severally and not even travel a quarter of the country! The beauty of Mexico is that every region has its own unique culture, complete with food and vibe.
Here are some of the useful travel tips for first-time travelers that will help you to get most out of your Mexican vacation:
- Restroom Doors are marked differently
If you do not want the shock of your life, remember that restrooms in Mexico are marked differently than back home. The ladies restrooms are Marked with “M” while the male restrooms are marked “H” or “C”. Mujeres is the Spanish word for women, thus the “M” while for men is either “Hombres” (H) or Caballero (C). Gentlemen, do not be caught flat footed and find yourself in the ladies’ room or you will get a few screams. Not cool at all!
- Don’t lose the paper slip you get at the border
Once you are officially in Mexico, the Immigration officer will stamp your passport and hand it back. Inside the passport is a slip of paper, which you must keep carefully. As a visitor, you get to fill a tiny section at the end tail section of the immigration form. This section is breakaway and the officer will tear it out and place it inside the passport. Make sure you keep this slip safe because you will need it while leaving Mexico, else you will pay a fine!
- Hop on a Bus
Mexico is huge, and making your way around it may prove to be quite challenging. The flights in Mexico are a decent value for money, but taking a bus is the best way to sightsee. Enjoy the stunning Mexican countryside while saving some money. Mexico’s bus system is tiered and each class of service is at a corresponding price. The highest class is (Primero) and Platino (Platinum) First class buses are classy and comfortable, complete with a restroom. The Platino buses are worth every penny. The seats are as spacious as business class flight seating. How about that?
- Don’t flush tissue
Do not flush tissue paper in Mexico. This sounds ridiculous, right? As strange as this sounds, it is the norm. The drainage pipes in Mexico are not built to withstand it. The procedure is to throw the tissue in a waste bin found in the toilet. Some beach resorts and posh hotels may let you flush, but it is only proper to use the provided bin.
- Don’t worry about safety
Mexico has a pretty bad rep on safety lately. Some isolated areas in Mexico have had violence problems related to cartels. To be clear, traveling in the larger part of Mexico is safe. Mexico receives millions of tourists annually, and attacks on tourists are extremely rare. Tourism is a major source of income in Mexico, and the Mexican government invests a lot to ensure visitors are safe. Mexicans are also the most welcoming and friendly people on earth!
- Get Insurance
Just because Mexico is safe does not mean you should not get insurance. There are other risks and it is only better to be safer than sorry. Get health insurance in case you come down with something that needs medical attention. If you intend to drive while in Mexico, ensure you are covered for both rental and liability. Getting insurance is one of the best travel tips for first-time travelers that you must consider before your tour.
- Visit some cenotes
Some areas of Mexico such as the Yucatan peninsula have limestone bedrock that gives way in some areas. It forms caverns that fill with natural water from underground. These are called cenotes and they provide awesome holes you can grab a swim. Some are cakelike while some are underground. You can either snorkel, swim and dive in the cenotes. Cenote swimming is an experience that is simply Mexican and you have to experience!
- Eat some Botanas
A botana is a snack served between meals in most areas of Mexico. If you visit a cantina, you get a free botana when you buy an alcoholic drink. In addition, the more alcohol you order, the more and the better botanas you get!
- Take a colectivo!
A colectivo is a shared van or minibus and very popular in the Yucatan. Some areas of Mexico call them Peseros. They are the cheapest and fastest means of public transport. Hop on one for the ultimate Mexican experience as we recommend it in one of the most useful travel tips for first-time travelers to Mexico.
- Don’t make an assumption on weather
Mexico, by virtue of its latitude, means most of the areas are warm all year round. Interestingly, some destinations such as Oaxaca and Mexico City are on a higher altitude and temperatures can really drop, especially at night and during their winter. Do not pack only your swimsuit and shorts. Pack a jacket and some warm pants too!
Do not be ignorant. Make a point of learning a few words of Spanish to tide you over. In most places, English will suffice, but in some areas, it is wise to know the local language.
Traveling to Mexico is almost an art. You have to be resourceful and look out for unique tips you will not find anywhere. Hence staying connected at all times is quite essential. Always make sure you have enough local internet data, connect to a VPN every time you get online in Mexico to stay secured, and bring external battery sources.
You don’t want to be lost in the city without Google maps to guide you back to your hotel or have your bank credentials stolen because you were connected to an unsecure network. In any country, it is usually a good idea to find out the little things that might make your stay miserable if ignored. Follow these travel tips for first-time travelers to do your due diligence, research and go enjoy your vacation!