Traveling to Mexico for the first time can raise many questions and concerns for newbies. Especially if you're planning to explore and have side street adventures. Although it can be emotionally and mentally draining to plan your stay when your not too sure what to expect in your destination. Here are a few good rules of thumb to follow to make that a possibly good experience become a great one.

Get out of the Resort

All Inclusive Resorts

Everyone loves to be pampered and relax in luxurious All Inclusive Resorts when traveling to Mexico, including me. These fantastic resorts are designed to keep you on their property and entertained by them. It’s great cash flow for the resorts!

All Resorts offer their own “Approved Guided Tours”, the problem being that these companies are not always as good as the “marketing gods” make them out to be. Many times the approved tour operators are chosen because they can afford the best kick back for the resort or concierge.

The tours pick you up from the resort, razzle-dazzle you, rush you around in an overcrowded group, many times to vendors that tip them out the best, then run you right back to the resort to spend your cash within their walls! As exciting as that can seem for many of you, you’re really missing out on a whole world of side street adventures.

Mexico is a huge oasis of culture and charm where all your senses can be fully stimulated and satisfied! Why stay within the walls of an all inclusive resort? Go Explore!

Meet the Locals

Despite North American media reports of violence and danger, Mexico is really quite a safe place if you’re not a complete idiot. The locals in most areas of Mexico are welcoming and friendly to outsiders, especially on the side streets away from the tourist traps. Many Mexicans can speak a bit of English. If they can’t I have found there is almost always a friendly soul nearby to translate or help out. The best way to find those side street treasures that are not marketed to foreigners is to chat up the locals for information. Go Explore!

In a country with such a rich cultural past, there are millions of opportunities to have fun while exploring. Cenotes, Mayan Ruins, snorkeling and nature inspired outings are just the tip of the iceberg for cheap and easy outings in Mexico.

Although you are bombarded with tour options upon arrival, I find the small private tours or self guided ones are the best. Getting to explore on your own time, not on a preset schedule makes your trip highlights that much better. Not to mention if you’re in a small group there is a better chance that your tour will be designed closer to what your expectations are rather than a generic tour for 50 people.

Large scale tour companies usually do a decent job, however, the guides can sometimes seem to be burnt out as they have been on the tour a bazillion times reciting the same commentary and stale jokes. When I go on a small private tour I always feel like the guide has gone above and beyond to meet my expectations.

Go Explore

Let your Guard Down.

The Mexican population for the most part are welcoming, happy people. Especially if treated politely! Their wonderful hospitality and warm sense of humor will make you fall in love with this charming country. When you let your guard down, you will learn this for yourselves, giving you an enriching and memorable time.

Change your Vibrations.

Unplug that laptop, put down your phone, disconnect from the web! You can do all that at home! Why spend a bunch of money to go somewhere beautiful and keep the same routine! Once you’re disconnected, your electromagnetic field dissipates as you ground yourself out enjoying the elements of nature. This reduces stress and built up adrenaline which rejuvenates your mind, body, and soul.

Play

Let loose, be foolish, have fun and play. You’re on vacation not at work! Smile and enjoy your time abroad, show your kids and friends that you can play and have fun too. For some people its really hard to unwind, playing like kids and being social is a great way to jump start your fun side. No kids?, no problem, join some people playing beach soccer or some group activity to remind you how much fun you can have being youthful and carefree.

Pay in Pesos.

While most touristy places want to charge you in USD, the national currency is pesos. Much better deals can be had when paying in pesos rather than the inflated rates charged for USD. Don’t forget to haggle like you’re shopping at a garage sale, Just be polite about it! Keep a smile on your face and be jovial like it’s a game.

Many storekeepers will play along so not to lose a sale to a nearby competitor. You would be shocked to see what kinds of stores you can haggle in, not just on the tourist strips.

Blend In

Don’t wander the streets covered in jewelry toting that $600 handbag and expensive brand name gear. Like in any country you may visit, you’re putting a target on your back for the impoverished people with low morals. I fit in with locals and expats, I wear simple cotton clothes with little to no branding and avoid looking flashy. If you don’t look like it is worth robbing you, then you will most likely be left alone.

Eat Local Specialties

Mexican food is so delightfully rich and tasty. Hit up a local food cart or restaurant on a side street away from the tourist zone. Mexicans need to eat too, and they don’t expect to pay much for local cuisine. Not only can you find awesome mouthwatering dishes in these places, you pay less, and are treated better by staff because they want to see you coming back again and again.

Learn Some Spanish

It only takes a little bit of effort to learn some handy phrases and words to make your life easier. Mexican nationals like that you’re making the effort to learn their language. Usually, there is smiles and laughter when you miss pronounce things or words (I once asked a cabbie to take me to eat donkey) If that doesn’t work for you, playing charades to get your point across or a decent translator app on your phone will help.

Accept that you are Abroad

Realise, you are not in your country anymore! Things work differently in Mexico and most times much much slower. Getting mad because your burger took ½ hr to make or you didn’t get exactly what you expected like when at home is your problem, not theirs. Being rude and ignorant is inexcusable. If you’re mad because your hosts don’t speak good English or you’re not getting your accustomed style of service then please remind yourself that you are not in your home country, you’re on an adventure, stay calm, cool, and collected!!.

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cheers…

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