Traveling to Mexico for the first time can be overwhelming for some. I don’t blame them. After all, you’re going to a different country, probably on another continent, with a different language, a different culture, etc. It may be much different from what you are used to in your home country.

I remember the first time I traveled abroad. There was so much information out there that it was hard to digest it all. Fortunately, with the correct planning and following advice from key people, you will be able to make a better-informed decision. That’s why I came up with a list of useful tips for first-timers. Keep on reading!

Tip #1: Put Those Fears Aside

Wooden letters spelling out the word fear.

But Mexico is dangerous! Don’t you watch the news or what? The government is advising us against visiting it. They’re going to kidnap me or even worse, kill me! There are drug dealers on every corner!

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I’ve heard so many comments along the same lines. I can understand your concerns, especially if it’s your first time. All you have is the media, which isn’t 100% a reliable source of information.

So, step #1 is: “Don’t be afraid!” I wrote an article covering this subject in further detail. You can check it out here.

Tip #2: There’s More Than All-inclusive

Woman inside a pool wearing a hat seen from the back.

I recommend you be flexible regarding your lodging options. I understand some people may prefer to have everything at hand and that’s why they prefer resorts. You’re missing out on a lot. By staying somewhere else, you could view things from a different perspective. Travel is all about learning and new experiences.

You can stay at a hotel, a hostel, an Airbnb, a bungalow, a cabin… the choices are endless! Your lodging options will obviously vary depending on where you go, but as a rule of thumb, there will always be more options to choose from.

Imagine waking up in the morning to a homemade breakfast. Or picture yourself watching locals at work making handicrafts or some other form of art. I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for that.

Tip #3: Embrace the Openness of Mexican Culture

Small girl at the beach carrying a purse and holding out her other hand.

Let your guard down… just a bit. Of course, it’s advisable to always watch your surroundings. What I mean is, it’s important to understand the personality of Mexicans. We are warm people and like to make friends. Mexicans are among the most hospitable hosts you will ever meet. Many people have told me that, and you can also read that up online.

It’s common to say good morning or just smile as you pass by. I have been to many places where people are very friendly and are always willing to lend you a hand. I feel as if we were all part of the same family.

Americans and Europeans especially may find this as odd. They’re more self-conscious as opposed to Mexicans. That “personal space” thing is practically non-existent in Mexico. We are very direct, like to shake hands and make jokes, even with strangers. Many foreigners fall in love with our sense of humor.

Tip #4: Habla Español?

Green sign reading that Spanish is spoken.

Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish! Allow yourself to learn and practice. You will find many people willing to teach you or even correct you. It may be embarrassing at first, but once you get over that feeling, you will be more at ease.

You don’t need to achieve a native speaker level. Just try. Don’t be afraid. Speaking the local language is always much appreciated.

There will be plenty of opportunities for you to practice: ordering at a restaurant, shopping, checking in at the hotel or the airport…

You will certainly find people that speak English, but I think experiencing another culture involves the language. What do you think?

 

Tip #5: Try Not to Haggle

Hand holding a couple of colorful necklaces.

I’ve never been a fan of haggling, especially when it comes to artisans. I’ve talked with many artisans during my trips, and all the things they make with their hands or limited tools are beyond me. What amazes me, even more, is the amount of time it can take them to finish a single piece of wood, ceramic, or whatever material they use. They’ve told me some work can take them not only hours but days to complete.

If we don’t haggle at Walmart or another store, why should we when we shop for beautiful handicrafts abroad? I don’t think that’s fair.

Unless the artisan goes down out of his own initiative, I strongly urge you not to haggle over the price.

Tip #6: Get Out of Your Comfort ZoneTraveler carrying a large backpack and facing the horizon.

Guided tours are the preferred option by many. After all, they’re convenient and allow you to do a lot of activities in a short period. They’re also the most comfortable option.

However, you can do more when you are on your own. Rent a car and venture out. Plan a route. Visit one of the many charming Mexican towns. Allow yourself to lose track of time.

You can also ask for guidance on travel forums or ask other people in person. They will be able to give you directions and tell you what bus you can take. You can even make a new friend, who knows?

Tip #7: Try the Food!

Chile en nogada with cream and pomegranate.

Mexican cuisine is considered to be among the best in the world. We have an ample variety of dishes: tacos, gorditas, tortas, flautas, enchiladas, mole… and the list goes on and on.

Try a local dish at a restaurant, the town market, or even from a street vendor! Street vendors are very common in Mexico.

Even though you may be familiar with some dishes, I can assure you they taste nothing similar. You will love them and will even run into some unknown ones.

Thanks to Google and other online tools, we can get information on Mexican food in the blink of an eye, but you could also consider asking locals. They can give you some of the best recommendations out there!

Tip #8: Be Thankful for What You Have

Woman silhouette facing the sun and holding out both of her hands.

You weren’t probably expecting this one. I decided to include it because I think it’s important to realize we are more fortunate than others. There is poverty in Mexico, that’s a fact. You will most likely run into beggars, some of them being children. It breaks my heart to see this. It seems the current government is working hard to change this situation, and I hope they fix that soon.

I’m not going to tell you whether you should give them something or not. That’s totally up to you. Let this be a reminder of the things we should be thankful for. It’s one of the most important life lessons we could teach our children.

Bottom Line

Remember there’s always a first time for everything in life. Don’t let this deter you from visiting Mexico. With the proper planning and the right attitude, you will have the time of your life!

If you have already visited Mexico, what other tips do you consider important? I’d love to know. Also, feel free to leave any questions you have in the section below. Thank you for reading and see you soon!

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10 Replies to “Traveling to Mexico for the First Time – Some Useful Tips”

  1. I think these are all great tips for travelling to mexico and to other countries in general. The best ones out of these are to be grateful and to be nice to the locales including giving them fair prices for their goods and trying to blend in with the culture. Do you think that Mexico is one of your favorite places to visit?

    1. Thank you very much, Jon! I think being grateful is important in life. We are probably more fortunate than others but sometimes don’t give it a thought. I also think it’s important to be fair when shopping. There’s a lot of hard work behind the handicrafts we buy that we are not aware of. 

      Answering your question, of course! It’s my favorite place in the world. I can never get enough of it. That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog. 🙂

  2. Hello Enrique. Thank you for sharing these useful tips for a first time visit Mexico. Personally, I have not visited Mexico before but I’d be excited to visit and have a good time there. Traveling is one of my hobby. I’d love to meet new people and make new friends plus have a taste of Mexican hospitality and their food. The artisans are truly doing a great job and deserve the best in price tags. Not nice to haggle over their products. Courage is necessary to visit a new country especially when it has been painted dangerous before. Very useful and important tips!

    Warm regards!

    1. Hi, Biizy,

      Your comment is much appreciated. 

      I’m pretty sure you’ll fall in love with Mexico once you visit it. There is so much to see and do and, on top of all that, the people are very nice. 

      Travel is one of my passions, although I wish I could travel more often. That’s why it’s important to make the most out of it.

      You made an interesting point. It takes courage to visit a new place and to face things unknown to us. There will always be a first time, but once we get over our fears, everything is much easier.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thank you for your post. It is a timely article for me. My wife and I are planning to visit Mexico this year. I plan to do some research on Mexico, but never have time to do so.

    Here comes your article, which has all I want to know. I particularly like your tip of Put Those Fears Aside, which is the reason why we are hesitated to visit Mexico, since my wife always think that Mexico is not safe.

    Your artilce, Is it safe to visit Mexico? is a useful guide for us. I will study it in detail while planning our trip.

    It is kind of you sharing this useful information with us.

    1. Hi, Anthony,

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad I can be of assistance. 

      I don’t blame you. Many foreigners are afraid to come because of what they see on the news. That’s very unfortunate because they’re missing out on a lot.

      Please feel free to check out my other articles and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. I always thought of Mexico as a beautiful place with a vibrant culture. As you mentioned though the new often portrays Mexico and a scary hostile place and that has always made me a question which is true Mexico? By reading your article it sounds to be more like the beautiful place I’ve imagined but, as with any new place, you should stay aware of your surroundings. I hope to visit there someday. Are there any places, in particular, you’d recommend visiting?

    1. Hi, Sam,

      Mexico is a beautiful place. One of my dreams is visiting every single corner. 

      Yes, it’s very unfortunate that many people avoid visiting. I know many who fall in love with it after visiting for the first time. It’s just a matter of getting over your fears. Of course, you always have to be aware of your surroundings just like you would anywhere else.

      Answering your question, there are many options. It depends on what you want to do, the time of the year, your budget, etc. You can check out the most visited destinations here.

      Feel free to get back to me with any additional questions. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hi Enrique,

    Being a traveler, Mexico is on my list for a while. Thanks a lot for the valuable tips and I got helpful insights from your article.

    While reading I am amazed at the Mexican culture and how friendly they are. While doing some research online, I read some articles regarding Mexican people and their culture, it’s awesome.

    I love to learn Spanish (de facto) and for sure before my trip I will do some homework. Indeed, speaking the local language will be awesome and I will give it a try.

    I am bookmarking your article for future reference and you have given a lot of value here.

    1. Hi, Paul,

      Travel is a passion of mine. It’s always nice to meet other people who share that feeling.

      Some people could say I’m biased here, but Mexican people are very welcoming and our culture is simply amazing.

      Traveling opens our eyes and helps us see things from another perspective. You can also practice another language. I’m sure you will find people willing to give you a hand.

      Feel free to check out my other articles for more info and tips on Mexico. Thank you for commenting.

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