A survival guide for your first time traveling to Mexico

Things to know before traveling to Mexico

Are you planning a fun-filled vacation and dreaming of traveling to Mexico this year? Will it be your first time in Mexico? There are some things we think you should know before you step on the plane.

Mexico is a vibrant and exciting country, full of new experiences for travelers to try. Traveling anywhere for the first time can be a little daunting, so we’ve put together a helpful list of hints and tips. Keeping this advice in mind will ensure that your first time in Mexico will be an amazing experience.


Every country in the world has different customs. When traveling anywhere for the first time, it’s important to get to know at least some of the culture and etiquette before you touch down. Here’s what we recommend for your first time in Mexico.

Learn some of the language before traveling to Mexico

Learn some Spanish before traveling to Mexico

Even if you’ve never spoken a word of Spanish before, it’s a good idea to learn the basics before you travel. Learning basic greetings, phrases, and navigational terms can go a long way. You can pick up a book from a local store, or download an easy to use language app to get to grips with the basics.

Pay in Pesos

A large majority of Mexican establishments will accept US dollars. Though this might seem convenient for travelers, it’s not always in your best interests to do it. If buying something more than 100 pesos, you will likely get a bad exchange rate if you opt to use dollars.

Don’t forget to tip

Just like in the states, tipping service staff is common in Mexico. Waiting staff often rely on tips to supplement their income – in most places, 15% to 20% is expected. The same goes for hospitality staff working in your hotel. For this reason, it’s always good to have a spare stash of pesos at hand.

Know when to haggle

It's worth learning to haggle before traveling to Mexico

When it comes to shopping, you can sometimes get a good deal on souvenirs by haggling. But, this is understandably not acceptable everywhere. In most established stores, bartering won’t be accepted. If you visit a local market, however, you can often get a better price on goods if you’re prepared to haggle. Practice your negotiation skills before traveling to Mexico if you want to come home with a bargain!

Essential items

First things first, when traveling anywhere it’s often best not to go overboard. If you pack two huge cases for a week away the chances are you won’t use a good portion of it. Mexico has shops too – so if you do forget to bring anything you’ll be able to find it in a local store. With that said, there are some essentials we recommend all travelers bring along!

Bring the bug spray

A vacation can easily be disrupted (or even ruined) by pesky insect bites. That’s why we recommend all visitors stock up on repellents. They’re fairly cheap to buy, and they could save you a lot of hassle in the long run!

Sunblock is essential

Pack your sunblock before traveling to Mexico

Mexico is often blessed with glorious sunshine, so sunblock is absolutely essential if you want to avoid a nasty sunburn. It’s a good idea to keep yourself protected even on days when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

Grab a swimsuit… or two!

The chances are you’ll be spending a lot of your day in a swimsuit. We’d recommend packing at least two before traveling to Mexico. This way you can wear one, and you can hang the other out to dry in the sun ready for tomorrow!

Put together a basic first aid kit

Having a rudimentary first aid kit can be extremely helpful when traveling anywhere. You don’t need to bring your entire medicine cabinet, but a few basics can be useful if a problem should arise. The chances are you’ll be doing more walking on your vacation than you do at home. Having blister band-aids at the ready can be a big help if your shoes aren’t the best fit. You should also consider packing some basic medication, in case anyone should feel queasy or fall victim to a bad headache.

Exploring and experiencing

Be adventurous when traveling to Mexico

Mexico has so much to offer. If you want to have the best experience for you, there are some things you should bear in mind while planning and during your trip. Here’s our expert advice to get the most of out of your vacation.

Research where you’re going

Just like Texas is very different from Maine, each region of Mexico comes with its own unique culture, customs, traditions, atmosphere, and even food. The experience you have while you’re away will depend on where you’re going – Central Mexico is totally different to the North or South. So it’s important to bear this in mind, particularly if it’s your first time in Mexico.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you’re going all-inclusive it might be tempting to stick to your resort. But, if you really want a true taste of Mexico try to go out of your comfort zone. Do some exploring through the towns and cities, and consider visiting the beautiful historical sites as you won’t find these anywhere else in the world!

Know your festivals

Like any country of the world, Mexico has some annual celebrations. It’s important to know the key dates. Keep them in mind and plan accordingly depending on whether or not you’d like to experience them. Here are some of the biggest:

  • Día de la Independencia (Independence Day) – September 16th
  • Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) – October 31st to November 2nd
  • Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe – December 12th
  • Christmas Season – December 16th to January 6th
  • Lent and Easter – Ash Wednesday to Holy week

Try the food

Trying the food is one of the best parts of traveling to Mexico

Let’s face it – authentic Mexican cuisine is quite different to the food you’ll find in any other country… specially the States. We recommend trying everything once. You might find your perfect dish, and, if a certain food is not for you, at least you have the satisfaction of knowing you tried something different. However, it is important to know your limits! Traditional Mexican food has a lot more spice than your average American dish, so don’t go all out for your very first meal. Try little bits and take it easy – don’t feel you have to finish a hot meal if it’s too strong for you, no-one will be offended and you run the risk of an upset stomach.

Sit back and relax!

Remember, you’re on the trip of a lifetime to one of the world’s most beautiful countries! Soak up your surroundings, enjoy the sunshine, have a glass of your favorite drink, and just relax!

If you want to see everything Mexico has to offer, we can help! With excursions across Mexico, we can help you experience everything from ancient Mayan ruins to nights out in some of the country’s biggest and best clubs.