Before You Go – Your First Trip to Mexico

Before You Go – Your First Trip to Mexico

Have you finally bit the bullet and decided to check out Mexico? Congratulations and get ready for an amazing adventure in a new culture. There are some things to plan and be prepared for before you take that trip so read on to learn some basics.

Travel Documents

Before you head out the door, you need to prepare a few things. First and foremost are your travel documents. Whether you are flying in, driving by car, or coming in by boat, you must bring the required documentation. Passports are mandatory for air travel between the U.S. and Mexico but land and sea allow some alternative travel documents.  Here are your options:

  • Passport – this is the best form of identification you can have when traveling abroad.  Once you are in Mexico, don’t carry it around with you. Keep a copy of it in your wallet and lock up the passport at your place of stay.
  • Passport Card – this is a fairly new option and can be used for entry by land or sea. Note that it is only acceptable for travel to Mexico and Canada from the United States. It is not acceptable elsewhere.
  • Enhanced Drivers License – only some states do these but if your state offers an enhanced drivers license, you can use this by land or sea entry.
  • SENTRI Card – SENTRI cards are issued by the US Department of State to people who have gone through the pre-approval process and go back and forth across the US/Mexico border frequently. The big benefit to this card is you can come back to the United States through expedited commuter lanes.

Canadian citizens and citizens of other countries must have a passport and in some cases, a travel visa.

Travel Insurance

It is strongly advised that you purchase temporary travel insurance before your trip.  In the event something happens to you while you are on your trip and you require medical attention, this insurance will cover you. Some plans also include evacuation back to the United States.
If you are driving across, you also need temporary auto insurance because your US or Canadian insurance policy does not cover you in Mexico.

Have Fun, but Be Smart

This can happen anywhere, but as a tourist, you may be targeted by people trying to take advantage of your unfamiliarity with Mexico. Research where you are going and be familiar with the basics of the area. Review the US State Department website for any warnings for travelers in the area you will be visiting.  Share your basic travel itinerary with someone at home, but don’t share your exact details with someone you are unfamiliar with when traveling. When going out, take your debit or credit card and enough cash for your excursion, but don’t bring all your money out with you. You can always find an ATM to get more if you need it.  Think of being in another country like you would being in your own country in a big city. There are things you would and would not do and places you would and would not go during certain times of the day. Be smart and aware of your surroundings and use good judgment.