Travel Etiquette for Mexico

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Traveling to Mexico soon? Don’t forget, the rule of gold when traveling, treat others as they would like to be treated, not as you would like to be treated.

Travel etiquette:

All cultures are different, and might even have customs, that might seem weird or wrong to others, but remember, they are just different. When traveling to Mexico, try to follow these recommendations whenever possible:

 

Churches:

Most of the sights in Colonial cities are Catholic churches. Regardless of your religion (or no religion), please be respectful of these places. These are worship places for the locals, not tourist attractions. Please dress properly (some churches might even forbid entrance if you have uncovered shoulders or very short shorts or skirts), remove your hat before entering, don’t use flash while taking pictures, and most importantly, don’t interrupt religious services, wait for them to finish before touring any church. Lastly, if you can, donate something to each church you visit. A five or ten Mexican pesos coin will suffice. Restoring churches is expensive, your donation will help a little bit.

 

Museums:

Try to visit museums as much as you can, especially in colonial cities, just getting inside to admire the building is usually worth the admission price and they always have clean restrooms. When you visit them, don’t touch any of the exhibitions, this might sound obvious, but you have no idea how many times I have seen a tourist being called out for grabbing a painting and even scratching a priceless table to see if its real gold plating. Also, no flash photography, just turn off the flash of your camera or smartphone as soon as you get in the city.

 

Natural reserves or parks:

Don’t cut plants, bring rocks or anything from these places back home, remember, what you are going to be able to enjoy when you visit these places, is what other tourist left undisturbed. This is the main reason some places are being closed or limited to tourist.

 

 

Tipping:

Tips are expected at table service restaurants and bars (locals tip 10%, and 15% in upscale places). For small food stands, tipping is not required/expected, just round up if you are feeling generous (if bill is 95 pesos, leave 100). A daily small tip (50 pesos or 2-3 USD) for the maid cleaning your room is always welcomed, maids in Mexico are severely underpaid and this extra income is very helpful. Tour guides also expect to be tipped, same amount as the maid (per person) is usually enough.

Travel tip: if you leave your maid a small daily tip, you will get better service during your stay that if you leave a big tip at the end.

 

Haggling:

This is considered a national sport sometimes. This can only be done with street vendors selling handicrafts or souvenirs. I’m against it, as in colonial cities in Mexico, the savings that can be achieved (10-20%) are usually only a few us dollars and are not significant for the average traveler, but its a big loss for the locals. If you see something you like and you can afford it, buy it at a price is being offered, the locals will appreciate.

 

Trash:

Please don’t litter. Usually there is a trash can nearby, if not, hold to your trash until you find a trash can.

 

Smoking:

Indoor smoking (and vaping) is banned in Mexico, and you will be fined if you smoke in your room. Smoking is allowed outdoors. If you need to smoke, please don’t do it next to a building entrance, it defeats the purpose.

 

Public drinking:

You can only drink indoors, like restaurants, bars, even your hotel room. Having an open alcoholic container in the street will get you in trouble.

 

Soft/hard drugs:

Contrary to popular belief, these are illegal in Mexico.

When traveling to a foreign country be smart, obey all the local laws, and remember to have fun!