Traveling to Mexico soon? Then listen up! I have seen these mistakes made over and over on the island and in Mexico in general. Here we go!
Local Tip #1:
Exchange some US dollars into pesos AFTER you arrive in Mexico. Restaurants will gladly accept your American money, but their exchange rate will be far less than you can get at the local bank or money exchange window. Why? Because, like any local with American funds, we are limited to the amount of USD that we can exchange into pesos on a monthly basis. The restaurants exchange rate will be posted somewhere in the eatery. Just come in with some pesos or plan to use a credit card (not always accepted). I have witnessed several irate tourists in restaurants, because they get a lousy exchange rate there. Be ahead of the game and get pesos. Last time I checked, France doesn’t accept USD, why should Mexico?
Local Tip #2:
Only carry the cash you need for a daily outing by taking advantage of the hotel safe. Always have a credit card and a form of ID with you. If you plan on exchanging USD (or any foreign funds) at a bank, your PASSPORT will be required. Most exchange windows will be happy to help you without a PASSPORT. And, of course, never flash your money. It won’t impress anyone.
Local Tip #3:
Mexican banks check any foreign bills very well for wear and tear. I have been denied exchanging some USD because the bill was tattered. Reason: they won’t be able to get paid for the tattered funds. So come prepared. In Texas, I always ask my bank for the newest bills they have and they are happy to oblige. I ALWAYS take at least fifty $1 bills with me for tipping and I always get brand new ones from my bank. Why? Again, you tip someone in Mexico for a job well done, but your dollar bill is wet and worn. Chances are that the person you tipped will not be able to redeem that $ for pesos at the local bank, and that was not your intent! Many of my local Mexican friends hang onto their inferior ones and when they see me, I exchange them for my new ones, because my American bank will gladly take them. Make their life easier and take new bills.
Local Tip #4:
If traveling from a northern climate to Mexico, consider the weather upon your arrival into a Mexican airport. I have seen many northern visitors arrive at the airports in their parkas and heavy pants, only to wait for a period of time in the customs line. They are sweltering, because at this point they don’t have luggage access. Leave your home a little chilly and maybe arrive in Mexico with a simple warm up jacket or be dressed in a way that you can peel off clothes, while waiting in a warm line.
Local Tip #5:
Mexican vendors make their money on commission, no surprise. If you are not interested in their product, it is so simple to say No, GRACIAS! Unfortunately, I have witnessed many visitors from all nationalities be rude to these well-meaning family bread winners. It is easy to be polite and then everyone wins and feels good. Rudeness is simply not an option. It reflects on all of us. The vendors are simply trying to make a living for their families. Simple manners go a long way in any country.
Local Tip #6:
Be alert, as you would anywhere. Enjoy the culture, climate, food and wonderful people of Mexico. They are truly glad you came!!