Traveling to Mexico

Mexico City has enough tourism sites to keep you busy indefinitely! Museums, art galleries, sports teams of all sorts, great shopping, a beautiful historic downtown area, wonderful parks… there is no limit to the things you can do in Mexico City. Today, tourist guidebooks on Mexico generally explain the situation in detail. Here are some general guidelines: Carry little cash with you and be very alert to your surroundings. Stay out of places where there are few people. Don’t necessarily trust the police, as in some cases they are involved in crime too. Don’t hail a taxi on the street, as some of the roaming cab drivers are involved in robbery. Taxis at your hotel or in official cab stands are much better. While other parts of the country may have seen some increase in crime, it’s in Mexico City that it’s reached the highest levels. All in all, a hefty dose of thoughtful preparation (making photocopies of your passport, leaving your fancy jewelry at home, that sort of thing) and vigilant common sense are called for.

But do these drawbacks mean you should avoid Mexico City as a tourism destination? It all depends on what you want. Many people love the vibrancy of the city. There may be something you particularly want to do or see there. You may love big cities and want to experience the unique flavor of this one. But if you are just looking for a laid-back, relaxing vacation, you will be happier somewhere else in Mexico.

Going by air

Flying to Mexico is the most common way to go to the main resort and tourist destinations. Major U.S. airlines offer non-stop or direct flights to a wide variety of Mexican cities. You can work with a travel agent or you can book your flight over the internet. There is a tremendous variety in price, so it’s worth doing some homework. Booking way ahead sometimes gives you a bargain price — but you can also sometimes get very good prices if you have an impulse to go right away, or within a week or two. Look for U.S. or Mexican airlines.

Charter flights can offer rock bottom prices at times but do be aware that the charter operator may have the right to cancel the flight if it doesn’t fill, and they can do this up to about 10 days before the flight. However, if you want to cancel your reservation with them it may not be possible.

Vacation packages to Mexico

Combined airfare and hotel packages can offer you very good value. The hotels may not be the best known, but sometimes they are. And in this internet era, it’s easy enough to do a search on the name of the hotel and town. Especially if you are traveling to Cancun, Acapulco, Ixtapa, or any of the many other vacation type destinations in Mexico, vacation package deals are well worth exploring.

Another kind of package is the guided tour, often of several cities and typically with hotels and transportation included. This can be very good for people who haven’t explored Mexico much or who speak little or no Spanish.

Cruises to Mexico

Cruises leave from both coasts of the U.S. and vary in how long they last. The shorter cruises can be very economical. Cruises will only give you a taste of Mexico compared to other vacation choices, but that might be just the thing to whet your appetite!

Mexican buses

Mexico has an incredibly good network of buses going between cities. Most foreign travelers prefer the deluxe buses or the first-class ones, which typically offer movies, comfortable seating, rest rooms, and an easy schedule of many departures a day. Between the smaller towns you may get retired school buses from the U.S. and more rigorous conditions.

Driving

Driving conditions vary considerably from one Mexican highway to another. Some are slow, while the relatively expensive toll roads usually have light traffic due to their prices. Don’t drive between Mexican cities at night. There are tales of robberies, but more common hazards include livestock lying on the road (enjoying the warmth of the pavement) and vehicles driving without good headlights.

A Few Thoughts on Safety

If you travel in Mexico, do be aware of safety and theft issues. If you carry a purse, think about how easily it could be snatched and perhaps carry your passport and credit cards in your clothing close to your body, even in a pouch under your clothes.

There is much publicity in the U.S. about the occasional dramatic crimes that happen to tourists abroad. If you keep in mind that people are poorer and that you appear wealthy to them (even if that idea is laughable to you), you will make the best choices.

As for health concerns, Mexico is much improved from the past, but do be prudent about what you eat. Most drinking water you will be served is purified now, but it does no harm to ask. Other factors under your control are how much alcohol you drink and how long you stay out in the tropical sun.

Use common sense and be aware that common sense is different from one country to another. Don’t worry too much. Most travelers to Mexico have a safe and delightful trip.