Whether you’re a first time traveler to Mexico or a Snowbird who frequents once a year, that overwhelming feeling can still creep in when comes time to prepare for the big trip.
This is a simplified checklist to help you remember everything you need to do before you leave home & when you enter into the country.
This is your ticket out of your Country and your ticket back in. Make sure your Passport will not expire in the time you plan to travel. Also ensure you have enough passport pages left for visa stamps along the way.
Anytime you are traveling to a new country you need to know the requirements for a Visa prior to arrival by checking with the destinations Consulate General website. For Mexico, use the General Consulate of Mexico site.
Get travel insurance
The key to good travel insurance is having a company that will back you up in whatever country you’re in with whatever situation you are in. Most often your current health insurance plan will NOT cover you abroad, so be sure to do your research & bring all important documents with you.
Back Up Itinerary
Back up your itinerary, passport, travel documents & visa photos on your email so they can be easily retrieved in the event you lose your documents abroad. Give a backup copy of the files to a close friend or family member as well. Bring at least 6 extra visa sized photos; you can get these at Walmart or your local post office.
Surrounding Country Travel Options
If you think you might be traveling to another country while you’re abroad, then it would behoove you to check with the Visa requirements for those countries as well. For example, if you’re traveling to Mexico but think you might want to check out Belize while you’re in the south, be sure you know what you need to get into the country so you’re not prevented from entering at the border.
Flight hackers will tell you there are hundreds of ways to find the cheapest flight, but you can really narrow you search & save time by focusing on these top three flight hacking sites: Skyscanner, Momondo and Google Flights.
Another great way to ensure you’re getting the cheapest flights is to clear cookies & browser history each time you search, or download a safe VPN to mask you IP address from the airline website.
By using a VPN, you can choose a country that has a lower currency value than the US or Canada (like Thailand or the Philippines) & see flights displayed for people who live in those targeted locations. This way, you’ll pay the prices offered in those countries, not in yours, & you’ll still be flying in & out of the countries you choose.
Top Attractions & Activities
Of course you’re going to research all the awesome things you want to do while you’re in Mexico! You will want to know the top 12 things to do, where to eat, taking a road trip in Mexico & if its safe, & family friendly activities!
Tip: Don’t get glued to a schedule. Once you arrive in Mexico & start taking in the amazing scenery, tasting the exquisite street foods & experiencing the local entertainment, you’re going to wish your schedule was open to choose what you want to do & when you want to do it.
Airbnb vs Hotels vs Vacation Rentals
Now that the travel world is changing, you have many options for places to stay when traveling in Mexico! Each type of accommodation holds something different & it ultimately depends on what type of experience you would like to have. You have the option of short term or long term stays, so do your research & try something different!
If you're interested in knowing how to rent an apartment or condo in Mexico, click here.
Know The Currency Conversion
One of the worst feelings is arriving to a country, handing them your US/Canadian dollars & getting X amount of money in return without knowing if you just got ripped off or not. Download a World Currency Converter so you can convert your dollars into pesos with or without data on the go.
Exchange Your Dollars Beore You Leave
Your bank will usually do this for you for a fee less than you will be charged at a money exchange store in Mexico. Just give them a couple weeks’ notice before your trip so they can get the proper currency delivered at their location & exchange it for you.
Tip: Don’t exchange too much! There are ATM’s all over Mexico that dispense dollars & pesos. You really don’t need to be carrying much more than $2,000 pesos on you at any time.
Cell Phone Data & Wifi Coverage Plan
Verizon is awesome! They have a North American coverage plan that treats Mexico, USA & Canada like there are no invisible data sucking borders.
If you don’t have Verizon, talk to your phone company about traveling abroad; know how much you’re charged for using your phone, turning on roaming, hotspot, data usage while on Wi-Fi & international minutes available to you.
Always check the Travel Advisories for each country before you go. Consider the advisory but don’t assume it applies to an entire country. No country has a worse travel reputation in the USA than Mexico, yet the majority of the cities in this country are safer than any in the states. So use your best judgement, always be cautious & don’t generalize. The people in this country are fantastic & welcoming. Enjoy them!
Locate nearest US Embassy
Know where the nearest US Embassy is when traveling abroad. You can also register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program & give them your emergency contact information.
Learn Simple Spanish Phrases
Learn the basics phrases of the language before you travel to any country – it’s just polite. Plus it will help you get where you’re going much faster.
Cut Expenses – Save, Save, Save!
Do you really need that quad-shot mocha latte from Starbucks today? That $6 is the equivalent to almost 100 pesos in Mexico…so maybe prioritize a little before your vacation so you can have a little extra spending money on your trip abroad.
Estimate Travel Expenses
Sometimes it’s a little tough to gauge exactly what you’ll be spending on your vacation, but if you set a daily budget for yourself ahead of time it will help with any big surprises during that routine monthly bank account check.
Notify Your Bank
Arriving into another country & suddenly all of your cards are frozen & you can’t access your money totally sucks. So prevent that by contacting your bank & letting them know which countries you’re traveling to.
Tip: Open multiple bank accounts or prepaid Visa cards. This way if one account is lost, stolen or frozen, you have at least two others as a backup. Carry them in different places. For example, one card goes in your wallet or purse, one in your backpack & one stays in the safe at your hotel in case of emergency.
The CDC website is a great reference for knowing which vaccines are recommended for traveling into Mexico. You can also get informed on other diseases such as Malaria or Zika virus. Talk to your doctor before you go.
Tip: You can expect to get sick when you travel to new destinations so it’s better to be prepared & even bring a small first aid kit.
Schedule Pet Accommodation
If you have pets make sure to plan their care ahead of time. Often boarding facilities, Veterinarians or even pet sitters require basic vaccines or recent exams to accommodate their stay. Give yourself enough time to complete these appointments & have proper care for your pet while you are out of the country.
Make sure the sitter has all of your information where you’ll be traveling to, hotel phone numbers & personal emails, & designate a local contact in case of emergency when you cannot be reached.
If you’re traveling with your pet, check out the ultimate guide here.
Empty Refrigerator Of Perishables
Coming home to a refrigerator full of rotting food is no fun, so do your best to plan ahead with your shopping & home cooking routine, & toss anything that won’t last the time you are away from home.
Forward Your Mail
The post office will actually quit sending you mail if your mailbox gets too full, so be sure to have a forwarding service in place for long term travel, or ask the post office to hold it for you.
Write up a complete packing checklist before you go, including all camera gear, chargers, swim wear, relaxed wear, hiking shoes, etc.
Tip: Don’t over pack! Just about anything you can get in the US or Canada can be found here in Mexico!
Charge your electronics ahead of time so you can use them immediately upon landing. Don’t forget to see what type of plugs they are using in your destination to see if you need a converter. Here in Mexico, it is the same plug used in the US or Canada.
Stock up on any routine medications that you need & bring a small first aid kit of Neosporin, Band-Aids, antiseptic & Ibuprofen. In Mexico there are small pharmacies on almost every block & you don’t need prescriptions to get just about anything. But in the event of an accident it’s best to have a small kit with you so you can address the problem & move on with enjoying your vacation.
Pay Up All Bills
Don’t forget to pay your cell phone bill, electricity bill & any important bills before you go! Coming home to no power, water or a disconnected cell phone abroad can be a real pain in the….
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about any of the topics above, feel free to send us a message!