first time travel guide mexico

The First Time Traveler’s Guide to Mexico

I’ve been to Mexico three different times in the last 6 months (I’ll be sharing my last trip there with you next week!) and I absolutely adore it there! It’s full of culture, beautiful beaches and tons of friendly faces. Mexico in my opinion is incredibly underrated and underappreciated. I really believe everyone should visit Mexico at least once! As you’re looking for Mexico vacation rentals for your accommodations, you might be wondering what to expect. Breathe a sigh of relief because this guide is here to assist every traveler on their first trip to Mexico.

1. Have copies of your travel documents.

Whenever you go abroad, you must always ensure that you have digital and physical copies of your travel documents, identification and emergency contacts. When it comes to your passport, driver’s license, student ID, birth certificates and the like, scan them before you leave and ensure you have a copy in your email as well as in your USB. For your travel documents like your itinerary, print it and save a copy of it on your USB and email. Always have either these documents or a copy of them with you at all times. If you do plan to leave them in your accommodation, ensure they are kept in a secure place such as your lock box or security box, so that they are secure.

2. Download a converter app.

Most people these days have a smartphone and it’s pretty handy, especially since it’s pretty much an all in one device. For your stay in Mexico, there’s a 98% chance you’ll have this gadget with you since it’ll be handy when it comes to capturing those memories. On that note, since it is with you all the time, utilize it and download a converter app that can convert not just from meters to inches and Fahrenheit to Celsius, but from Mexican peso to whatever unit you are using. It’ll be handy when it comes to buying things from the store since you no longer have to use the calculator to solve for the conversion, but instead just input the amount and voila, the app automatically converts the price!

3. Ask before drinking the water.

If at home you can drink your water straight from the taps, don’t do it here in Mexico. That water flowing from the taps is not always drinkable. Despite the increase of water filtration systems around the country, it is highly recommended to drink bottled water at all times to avoid any possible waterborne illnesses. When it comes to brushing your teeth, it depends. Most big hotels already have their own filtration systems installed, making the tap water safe for swishing, but be sure to ask.

4. Pesos please.

Some countries may accept dollars as payment and Mexico is one of these countries; however, it would be best if you are to convert your money into pesos as this makes paying for things a lot less complicated than if you are to pay for them in dollars. If you’re buying something that’s an odd number, the vendor would highly appreciate it if the payment were to be in peso since this would require no conversion on their part, and giving back the change would be easier for them. I typically convert my money before leaving the United States. You can do it at your bank (which is probably the more affordable option), or you can do it at the airport before you board your flight. 

I took this right before landing in Mexico. The water is so pretty!

5. There is more to Mexico than Mexico City.

With 34 UNESCO world heritage sites, you know Mexico is a country that truly treasures its history and culture. On that note, although Mexico City may probably be the best-known place in Mexico as well as the most visited, there are a lot more places in Mexico that you should visit if you’re not on a strict budget. Yes, there are plenty of things to do and see in Mexico city alone, but if you’re staying for a week, you may want to check out the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization in Mérida or the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta was the first place I visited in Mexico- and for that reason it will always have my heart. I’m a huge Elizabeth Taylor fan and that’s where her and her favorite husband Richard Burton would spend most of their relationship.

6. Pack light.

Leave your parkas and coats at home because if one thing’s for sure, you will be sweating it in Mexico. If you do plan on bringing a jacket, make sure it’s just a light one and it’s more likely you’ll be using it on the plane rather than on your trip. Since it will be hot in Mexico, pack light and go for clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton. Don’t go for tight, confining clothing and choose loose tops, thin shirts, and shorts.  Don’t forget your sunglasses with UV protection as you’ll need to protect those pretty peepers. As for footwear, sandals would be great as well as comfortable walking shoes.

7. Learn a few words in Spanish.

Although plenty of Mexicans can speak English (especially in places with many tourists), learning a few Spanish words can earn you the favor of the locals. You might think they will laugh at your efforts and mispronunciations, but be assured that they do appreciate your attempts because there really is nothing worse than ignorant tourists that don’t try at all.  My Spanish is awful (I can’t roll my R’s to save my life), but they truly do appreciate the fact I at least try and speak their language. 

Hopefully you’ll fall in love with Mexico as much as I have! If you’ve been to Mexico before, are there any tips that you think I should add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

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