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18 Things We Learned From Traveling Through Mexico

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When traveling to a new country, it can be a little overwhelming. That's why we're here to help! After traveling through Mexico for two months, we sure went through a lot, and there were a ton of things that surprised us. That's why we made a list of tips for Mexico travel.

From safety to the best food, we were constantly shocked. Everything we experienced was so different than the stereotypes! That's why we wrote this article, so that you can best navigate yourself through the country, and make the most of your experience.

So without further ado, here are 18 different things we learned traveling through Mexico.

Tips for Mexico Travel #1: There's So Much More to Mexico Than Just Beaches

Did you know that it would take two days to drive from one end of Mexico to the next? And while both ends are extremely tropical and full of beaches, you can find a million other types of atmospheres in between.

Sure the beaches are stunning, but you can also find cenotes, waterfalls, valleys, forests, mountains, volcanoes, and more! Mexico is so beautiful because it is extremely diverse with it's landscapes, as well as its cities.

Cuatro Palos, tips for Mexico travel
Aguas Azules, Chiapas, Best places to visit in Mexico
cempesuchil fields, colorful spots in Mexico

Mexico has such a variety of landscapes.

Want to know about all of the different areas of Mexico to check out? Click below for some of the best places to visit in Mexico.

When many people think of the best places to visit in Mexico, they think of the Caribbean beaches. While those are amazing as well, we're here to show you that there is much more to Mexico than just turquoise waters and silky sand.Mexico is a diverse country, and from top

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Tips for Mexico Travel #2: It's Not As Dangerous As You Think

On the media Mexico is made out to be one of the most dangerous places in the world. Meanwhile, we traveled all over and met some of the nicest and most sincere people ever.

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We never felt in danger while traveling, and although we did get our car broken into, it is something that truly can happen anywhere (we left our luggage in plain sight). We do think that when in certain areas such as Michoacán and certain cities near the border of the US one should be a little extra cautious with their belongings.

However, all in all, we felt very safe in almost everywhere we went. Want to hear more about safety in Mexico? You can check out our full article here.


Tips for Mexico Travel #3: Mexico is So Much Cheaper Than You Think

When most people visit Mexico for the first time they go running off to Cabo, Cancún, or Tulum, and think that Mexico is an expensive country. This is really not the case at all! You just need to steer clear of the tourist traps.

Even in the pricey cities that we mentioned, there are areas that are extremely cheap. All you have to do is stay away from the large resorts, fancy restaurants on the beach, and bougie night clubs.

You can find tacos for 50 cents, beers and wine for $1 USD, and accommodation for just $5-10! So one of our favorite tips for Mexico travel is to take advantage of this! It's all about going to local spots to get the real Mexican prices, not to mention better food, and more authentic experiences!

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Tips for Mexico Travel #4: Street Food Is Where It's At

While we're on the subject of eating and drinking for cheap, we can't help but mention the awesome street food in Mexico. Street food can be found very easily throughout Mexico, and is quick, tasty, and cheap!

Cancun Street food, Plaza Palapas
Cancun marquesitas street food
shrimp tacos

Some of the best food in Mexico is the street food.

While most advise against street food, we give it a green light. There are so many rumors about this food getting people sick, and that is truly not the case. So take these tips for Mexico travel, and enjoy the local street food. It is much more affordable, and even tastes better than most restaurants!

Tips for Mexico Travel #5: Ditch Your Dollars

One of the big mistakes that tourists make while in Mexico is using the US dollars to pay for everything. This is one of the easiest ways to throw away you money!

Sure, everywhere will accept you dollars, but did you know that they usually mark up prices from 20-50%? I mean you can't blame them, because someone will have to exchange them at some point. But the best way to save your money is to head to the ATM and withdraw Mexican pesos.

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Tips for Mexico Travel #6: Most Places Are Cash Only

While we're on the subject of taking money out, you might want to take out more than you're expecting. Most areas of Mexico are cash only, and we really were only able to use our credit cards in malls, some restaurants, and at supermarkets.

There are so many cute shops and local bars and restaurants that will only accept cash, and even a lot of hotels! So make sure to keep plenty of cash on you at all times.

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Tips for Mexico Travel #7: It's Best to Rent a Car

We traveled through Mexico with public transportation, and with a car, and we can say that life is so much easier with a car!

They are also surprisingly affordable, as long as you don't wait until the last minute. We found that the best way is to actually call and ask for a rate, especially if you are planning on doing a long term rental.

There are a lot of tips for Mexico travel in car, so let's learn more! If you plan on renting a car, we have written a full guide on things to expect while road tripping through Mexico.

When it comes to visiting somewhere, there are many ways to get around. Traveling through a country takes a lot of research, and has plenty of uncertainties, but that's why we're here to help! In our opinion, the best way to get around Mexico is by car, Here is everything

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Tips for Mexico Travel #8: Renting Online is Sometimes More Expensive

Our biggest example here is with renting a car. We found that prices online were MUCH more expensive online! We called directly to places and didn't have to pay all the crazy booking fees and taxes like we would have if we had gone through an online booking agency.

When it comes to hotels, it really depends. We found it sometimes to be cheaper by going on directly, and some cheaper on the website.

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Tips for Mexico Travel #9: Bargaining is Everything

If it's one of the most important things that we learned while traveling through Mexico, it's that prices for almost anything can be negotiated. This is particularly relevant for the more touristy areas, as locals will try to sell tours, souvenirs, and food & drinks for up to 5 times the price they should be charging!

Unfortunately, this happens in more places as well. These tips for Mexico travel actually also apply to many places in the Caribbean and South America. When you don't look local, you are always a target to be taken advantage of. Just know that up front and make sure to play the game.

On the bright side, this can be extremely helpful in some circumstances. For example, when we got our car broken into, we had to fix the glass. There was so much competition, that it was really easy (and kind of fun) to bargain with the different autobodies. We ended up paying a very cheap price, and the work was super fast!

Let’s be honest...who doesn’t want to have the best vacation in the Caribbean? The area is full of paradise beaches, crystal clear waters and a relaxing vibe. The list of places to go is huge. But while they are might be amazing, they can be super pricey if you don't

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Tips for Mexico Travel #10: The Cops Are Extremely Corrupt

Did you know that the police in Mexico are the second most corrupt in the world after Russia? The corruption of cops in this country is actually something we continuously learned while traveling through Mexico.

This is annoying because if you get pulled over or in trouble for anything, the police will do whatever they can to just get money out of you. The good news is though, that if you know how to play the game, you can get away without a ticket or the drama. We get into this a little more in our article about road tripping in Mexico.

Tips for Mexico Travel #11: You Can Drink More Than Just Tequila

While tequila is one of the national drinks of Mexico, they also specialize in Mezcal! They are similar, but made from different plants. We think this is one of the best tips for Mexico travel, as Mezcal plays an important part in the Mexican culture.

Want one of the best p[aces to experience more than just the drink? Head to Oaxaca to learn about the art of Mezcal and dive a bit deeper into the culture of this local liquor.

Matatlan Mexico

Agave fields in Matatlán, Oaxaca

Tips for Mexico Travel #12: There's More to Mexican Food Than Just Tacos

When people think Mexican food, they think of just tacos. But if it's one of the things we learned while traveling through Mexico, it's that there is so much more! The Yucatan Peninsula has a great cuisine with salbutes, huaraches, gorditas, tostadas, panuchos, marquesitas and more!

Not only that, but each region of Mexico has a different cuisine. Head over to Oaxaca and try out their giant Tlayudas, or over to Chiapas for some truly peculiar (but delicious) dishes. 

If it's one of our favorite travel tips for Mexico, it's to try all of the amazing food they have. There are surely plenty you haven't tried, or haven't even heard of! Want to know more? Check out our full article below of the best Mexican foods.

Tips for Mexico Travel #13: The Weather Is Not Hot Everywhere

This may come as a shock to many, but Mexico is not just sunshine and beaches. One of the things we learned while traveling trough Mexico is that not everywhere is hot and tropical.

In Mexico City at night it actually went down to the 40's! (about 10 degrees Celsius). Head to the mountainous areas and temperatures drop like crazy, it's cloudy, and foggy.

So make sure if you are traveling outside of the Yucatan Peninsula or Cabo that you follow these travel tips for Mexico, and bring some sweaters!

Cascadas el Tuliman, tips for Mexico travel

Tips for Mexico Travel #14: Kids Are Cute, But Don't Be Fooled

The kids are so freakin' cute in Mexico, but they are trained to work! You may have a kid come up to you looking all adorable and just chatting away, but really they are there for the sale.

Whether it's asking for money, selling things, or trying to give you information for a "tip" 9/10 times the kids were there filling in for their parents! We hate supporting this, because we don't agree in children working at such a young age, but it can be hard to say no.

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Tips for Mexico Travel #15: It's a Great Place to Treat Yourself

We love Mexico because it is so affordable, but people also work so hard. We love to treat ourselves in Mexico because we don't know to spend crazy amounts of money, and we're supporting local business at the same time.

Getting a pedicure can be as low as $10, or getting a massage for an hour can be as low as $20. Just make sure you go to a local establishment, and not a big fancy resort to do these things though.

So one of our favorite tips for Mexico travel? Save that manicure for when you arrive, and indulge while you can!

Massages Costa Maya Mexico

Massages in Costa Maya cost just 20 dollars an hour!

Tips for Mexico Travel #16: Make Sure to Check For Reservations In Advance

Another one of the things we learned while traveling through Mexico was that if there is something you want to do, make sure to call and reserve in advance.

There were several times that we missed out on doing things, because they were booked up, and we waited too long. Especially during these times, you never know what will need a reservation, so make sure to call as far in advance as possible!

Want to learn more about what it was like to travel to Mexico during Covid-19? Click Here.

Tips for Mexico Travel #17: Some of the Coolest Places are Just on the Side of the Road

One of our favorite things that we learned while traveling through Mexico is that beauty is everywhere! You never know when you will be driving and just want to pull over.

We found really amazing flower fields, corn fields, agave fields, abandoned buildings, and even caves! So one of our best tips for Mexico travel on the road, is this: Make sure to always have your camera handy while on the road, and stop to smell the flowers!

corn fields Mexico, travel tips for Mexico

Tips for Mexico Travel #18: Expect the Unexpected

This is the number one when it comes to things we learned while traveling through Mexico. Some of the things that we encountered were:

  • Driving to a lagoon and finding the road flooded, so we couldn't make it there.
  • Showing up to a canyon to find out it was closed due to Covid.
  • Traveling to a place to find out that you could only go with a reservation.
  • Going to cenotes and finding them overflowed.
  • Driving down a highway to find a storm created a lake over an entire town.
  • Going to lagoons that were once blue, to find them brown in color due to a storm.
flooded road in Mexico, Tips for Mexico travel

We were surprised everyday in Mexico! (sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad).

The best thing to take away from this is to always give yourself extra time, try to get info in advance, and have a plan b if things don't go as planned!

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Mexico is a beautiful country, and full of surprises! We hope that the things we learned while traveling through Mexico will help your travels go smoother. So take some of our tips for Mexico travel, and make the most of your trip! 

Looking to plan your trip but don't know where to start? We got you covered! We at Scratch Your Mapa are dedicated to helping you explore more while spending less. Want to hear the details? Simply click here for more info.

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  1. Oliver Goldberg

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