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Crossing into Mexico: What You Need to Know

Whether traveling to Mexico for business or to enjoy a vacation, there are various aspects of the trip that travelers should keep in mind.  From necessary travel documents to car insurance, travelers to Mexico will need to know the following information when crossing into Mexico.

Necessary Identification

While it’s easy to get into Mexico, it isn’t so easy to get out of you don’t have the required identification.  That means travelers must pack their passport booklet or passport card.  A driver’s license or state ID is also handy for procuring insurance or establishing identity for rentals.  Always keep your personal information handy and well protected.  Don’t leave your passport lying around hotel rooms, restaurants, or in a beach bag.

how to get a passport
Passport for Mexico

Crossing into Mexico with Money

It’s a good idea to have access to your money in a few different ways when traveling to Mexico.  Have a combination of Mexican and U.S. currency.  Find out if anywhere you plan to visit accepts your credit cards of choice or if travelers’ checks will be helpful.  Avoid carrying around an abundance of cash if possible and certainly don’t allow onlookers to see large amounts of cash either. See this article on Cash in Mexico

Driving Permits

You will need Mexican insurance if you plan to do any driving in Mexico.  You may also need to register your vehicle and obtain a permit if you plan to drive in various states or territories of the country. See this article on the Mexican Permit Free Zone with a map!

Tijuana Border Crossing
Tijuana Border Crossing 1985

Language

If you’re not fluent in Spanish, be sure to learn some basic phrases to facilitate your travels.  While English is widely spoken in the tourist destinations of Mexico, anywhere off the beaten path could require a rudimentary knowledge of the language.  A simple phrase book or language dictionary should be included in your packing checklist.

Bring Directions with You

Since you may lose internet access from your cell phone while traveling in remote stretches, it’s a good idea to include maps in your suitcase or digital map on your device.  Mapping out your journey and itinerary beforehand is a good idea, too.  However, in the event of road closings or detours, a physical map of the intended region you plan to travel through should not be forgotten.

Come with Phone Numbers

When visiting Mexico or any foreign country, it’s important to have numbers of U.S. contacts in the event of an emergency.  Also, include the number for the U.S. consulate should you run into any trouble during your visit or lose your travel documents.  Be sure a close friend or relative also has important numbers for where you’ll be staying in case they need to contact you for any reason.

Health

The main health risk associated with travel to Mexico is water.  Drink bottled water to avoid any issues and be sure the restaurants you dine in wash their fruit and vegetables with filtered water.  In good hotels and resorts, this is not typically a problem.  If you have known health issues, be sure to include information regarding the nearest healthcare facility in the area you’ll be staying.  It can also be helpful to discuss your health with your doctor before traveling for any added advice relative to your condition.

Safety

Read about the stops on your travel itinerary.  Be sure to travel and stay in safe places.  It helps to keep a low profile when traveling; that is, try not to stand out with expensive cameras or luggage if possible.  Never look like a target and try to travel with someone or within a group if possible.  You can minimize threats of theft or worse by remaining aware of your surroundings at all times and staying on the beaten path.  Though Mexico is fascinating to explore, be sure that the area you plan to explore is designated as safe for tourists.

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