Mexico Vacation Planning

Mexico Vacation Planning
Traveling to Mexico can be a wonderful way to have a tropical vacation that's relatively close to home. The United States' neighbor to the South, Mexico is a diverse nation of 111 million inhabitants, spread out over three quarters of a million square miles. Its tremendous size is reflected in Mexico's remarkable diversity, from oceanic paradises to mountain vistas, teeming cities to desolate deserts. For those willing to do a little planning, Mexico has a lot to offer.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • GPS
  • Telephone
  • Passport
  • Tourist card
Step 1
Plan your aquatic destinations. The Sea of Cortez is a popular destination for sea-kayakers. Shallow and insulated from the Pacific, the Sea of Cortez is often used as a nursery by migratory species, including sea turtles, humpback whales, blue whales and manta rays. This makes the area a popular destination with SCUBA divers as well. Towns along the Sea of Cortez that depend upon visitors and would likely have support equipment and guides include San Felipe, Sonora, La Paz, and Mulegé. Other popular dives include Jardines Reef in Playa del Carmen and the National Marine Park in Cozumel. Mexico is also famous for its cave diving, most often in the freshwater caves of the Yucatan Peninsula, most famously Taj Ma Ha Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos.
Step 2
If there are any backwoods destinations on your itinerary, pack a GPS. Unlike in America, much of Mexico's wilderness, including backpacking trails, mountain climbing and camping, do not have comprehensive federal support. Trails are likely to be unmarked and you can't expect rangers and maps to help you out. If you intend to backpack or camp in the Mexican backwoods then you will want detailed navigational information and GPS, or enough money to hire a local guide. That said, there are many worthwhile natural sights in Mexico, including Copper Canyon of the Mexican Sierra Madres, La Ruta Puuc Trail in Yucatan and the Pinacate Reserve, which is only a short drive from the U.S. border.
Step 3
Either research outdoor guides and expedition companies in advance or pack your own technical gear. While the Mexican tourism industry is reasonably safe, you should be careful when engaging in more extreme outdoor activities. The language barrier and Mexico's poorer economy can increase the dangers in sports with expensive equipment. For example, the steep cliffs of El Potrero Chico are one of the hottest climbing destinations in the country. If you do your research you'll likely be able to find a reputable guide or expedition company that you can trust. However, if you are at all uncertain then you should bring your own climbing equipment, including cams, ropes, carabiners and harnesses.
Step 4
Contact the Mexican Foreign Ministry. Located in Washington D.C., the Mexican embassy can provide you with up-to-the-minute travel information, particularly pertaining to current entry requirements. Since they also have a vested interest in promoting tourism, they may be able to provide you with other useful information.

Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington DC 20006
(202) 7281600
Step 5
File your plans with the State Department. The State Department allows you to register your travel itinerary in advance, in order that they can assist you in case of an emergency. A link to the department's travel site has been provided below. The site also has current information about any travel warnings in effect.
Step 6
Exchange currency in advance. Sure, you'll be able to get money after you've crossed the border, but you are likely to get a better exchange rate in the United States and outside of a tourist area.
Step 7
Be prepared to carry a Mexico Tourist Card. Any visitor to Mexico who plans to spend more than 72 hours in the country, or leave the border-zone (typically anything farther than 70 miles from the border) must carry a simple visa known as a Mexico Tourist Card. These cards can be picked up at the border or at a Mexican tourism office. There's one office in Illinois, one in Texas and one in New York City. The Mexico Tourist Card costs around $23, as of 2009.
Step 8
Brush up on your metric. Sure, everyone knows to practice a few Spanish phrases before entering Mexico, but you shouldn't neglect the distance differences either. Mexico has fully converted to the metric system. Carry a laminated chart or other form of converter with you to easily figure mileage, weights and lengths.

Article Written By Louie Doverspike

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.

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