Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
Heading south of the border soon? You might get a lot of unsolicited travel advice from friends and family. But much of this advice can often lead you down the wrong path and jeopardize your vacation.
With vacation spots becoming more popular on Instagram and restaurants succeeding with their Yelp review, it can be hard to tell what the real deal is when visiting a new place, especially when you don’t speak the language or know your way around.
Instead, review our tips and tricks for traveling in Mexico and avoid these common pitfalls that can ruin your trip!
Don’t Skip Learning Spanish
Some people might try to tell you that learning Spanish is a waste of time and that everyone in Mexico speaks English. But this could not be further from the truth!
Many locals don’t want to learn a new language, even in areas mostly visited by Americans. You might run into issues when trying to find an address or even ordering from a restaurant.
Spanish is an easy language to learn, and knowing a few phrases can help you avoid a headache when facing a language barrier. Even if you do run into many locals who speak excellent English, they often appreciate your attempt to talk to them in their native language.
The Resort Isn’t Always the Best Place to Stay
Staying at an all-inclusive resort and lounging by the pool can be an excellent way to decompress from your hectic life.
However, there are better ways to see the best of what Mexico has to offer than staying at a resort. In most towns, many locals have built unique hotels and villas to rent. By staying in town, you’re more likely to get the best food and experience the culture.
Many small villas still have pools, and the beaches allow drinking, so many have walk-up bars to purchase a slushy margarita to enjoy while sunbathing.
If you do wind up at a fabulous resort, we won’t blame you. But consider grabbing your travel companions and going into the closest town for the day to see what you’re missing out on.
Never Drink the Water
Unfortunately, the old saying is true; the water is not safe to drink in Mexico. While many people get lucky while taking a sip or using it to brush their teeth, the water system remains sub-standard in Mexico.
Luckily, most hotels, villas, and resorts will offer water coolers or bottled water for you to drink. And if you’re staying for an extended trip and plan on cooking for yourself, many locals recommend buying fruits and vegetables that can be peeled instead of washed in the sink. Thanks to the tropical climate, this means avocados, limes, watermelon, and more!
When in Doubt, Hire a Tour Guide
Mexico’s one of the most popular places in North America to visit for a relaxing vacation, so it runs on a service-based economy. You can live lavishly with private chefs, drivers, and tour guides for very reasonable prices.
As the country has many excellent activities to offer, surfing, scuba diving, and exploring ancient ruins, we always recommend paying for a tour guide.
The locals have excellent skills and knowledge to share; they’ll help you explore their country and even offer fantastic restaurant recommendations. By creating a good relationship with a seasoned explorer, boat captain, or even historian, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Taco Stands
It might seem odd to walk up to a little cart on the side of the road and pay $5 to get a plate of the best tacos you’ve ever had and a beer, but trust us; it might be the best food you’ll ever find.
While Mexico has an established culinary scene with many chefs around the country holding Michelin stars, the local cuisine is where you’re likely to find new and exciting flavors beloved by locals. The style of food and ingredients vary wildly across the country, so you’re more than likely to find something totally unique.
If you’re hesitant about the taco truck, consider asking a tour guide or a local for their favorite place, you’re almost certain to regret not trying out these local spots.
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