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Traveling to Mexico

Planning a trip to Mexico? Whether you’re planning to see the ancient Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza or relax on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, you have a lot to look forward to. If you’re traveling to the country for the first time, you may have a lot of different questions and concerns. Read on for a guide on everything you need to know about traveling to Mexico.

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What to Do Before You Leave for Mexico

Traveling to Mexico

It’s a good idea to plan ahead before leaving for Mexico. Staying on top of things can help you avoid last-minute snags. For example, if you need to renew your passport it’s best to take care of that in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you might have to pay extra to have it expedited or reschedule your trip.

Your bank may be alarmed if they see that someone’s made purchases in Mexico using your account information. To avoid this problem, it’s best to let your bank know about your travel plans. If it sells foreign currency, you may be able to order pesos before you leave – especially if your bank has a better exchange rate than another place that sells pesos. That’s one way to save money and avoid paying a foreign transaction fee (if your credit card company charges one).

Whenever you travel to a new country, it’s best to do some research. That way you’re familiar with local laws and you know what you need to do before crossing the border. For instance, if your child is travelling alone, they’ll need a notarized statement of consent from at least one parent or guardian. If you have questions, you can always contact the closest Mexican consulate.

While you can bring your pet to Mexico, leaving Fido at home might be a good idea. In order to travel with your pet, you’ll need to provide proof that he or she has been vaccinated and submit a certificate (from your vet) confirming that he or she is in good health.

Pets that are at least 3 months old will likely need to be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, leptospirosis and hepatitis. If you’re planning to fly, you’ll need to check with your airline to find out whether they have any rules about transporting pets.

Know Whether You Need a Visa

If you’re a U.S. citizen headed to Mexico, you won’t need a visa unless you plan to stay for more than 180 days. If you need a visa or you’re concerned about changes in entry requirements, you can contact the Mexican Embassy or the National Migration Institute for more information.

Getting Around Mexico

Traveling to Mexico

If you’re traveling to Mexico by car, you’ll be pleased to hear that your U.S. driver’s license is valid there as well. You may need an international driving permit, however, if you’re planning to drive at least 300 miles.

Mexican law requires that all cars be insured. So it’s best to make sure your coverage is valid and up to date before you leave the U.S. If you need car insurance, there are several different ways to get inexpensive coverage.

If you’re flying into Mexico, you’ll likely need to use public transportation. Generally, travelers can use taxis, buses and subways to get around. While you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish, being a little familiar with the language will make navigating the country a lot easier.

Life in Mexico

Before your trip, you might want to learn as much as you can about what it’s like to live in Mexico. That way, you’ll know what to expect before you get there. Dialects and greetings vary regionally and probably differ from what you’re accustomed to in the U.S.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/YangYin ©iStock.com/Aneese, ©iStock.com/DC_Columbia

Jennifer Stinnett Jennifer Stinnett writes about a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. Her expertise includes retirement, taxes and home buying. Jennifer has a degree from Florida State University in English with a focus on Editing, Writing and Media.
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