A trip to Mexico is almost always a fun thing to do, but there are several little things that you need to learn and remember before your trip so that you are not surprised when you get there. Most of those things are nothing that will alter your trip or cause inconveniences unless you are not ready; because when you need a bathroom but cannot use it even though you are right in front of the bathroom it can be frustrating. Here are some of the things to remember for your trip.Credit: S Friedman
Since we mentioned bathrooms in the previous paragraph it makes sense to start with that. If you need a toilet while you are outside, you will not have a problem finding one that you can use. You need to look for the W.C. signs which sometimes seem plentiful. The only problem is that they are not free (they are not expensive either). The cost of using those toilets is anywhere between three to seven pesos. It is always a good idea to have change with you (exact change when possible) because even though most will have a person charging the fee, some use machines that will take change only.
Most of the bathrooms are kept clean, but some do not even have toilet seats. The best and more comfortable public bathrooms are found at fast food restaurants, malls, supermarkets and some bus stations. The mall bathrooms are usually free and are well-kept. The fast food restaurant bathrooms are also free, but some restaurants will ask you to make a purchase and show your receipt to use them, so keep your receipt.
It is very likely that if you are in a midrange hotel or anything above that, you will have free internet access. There are several other places where you will be able to connect to the internet including most of the fast food chain restaurants in the big cities, movie theaters, airports, and even some parks. You should exercise caution when using your wireless devices at a park as you never know who is watching. The other option is to visit one of the many internet access businesses spread through the country. If you are in a tourist town you will not have to walk long to find one. Internet or cybercafes charge anywhere from seven to 12 pesos an hour for the use of a computer, but some will charge only for the time used.
You can also buy a prepaid Wi-Fi USB style device which you can use on your laptop and as long as there is cellular service in the area (most of the country has it except in very rural areas) then you will be able to connect. These services are not cheap, but if you are traveling through the country they are the way to go. Remember that if you are in a hotel or place that has internet for free to take the USB device off your laptop; that way you will save money and be able to use it for a longer time.
Mexican food is one of the most loved cuisines in the world and when you are in Mexico you will have the real deal. Once you have the Mexican food in Mexico you will never see the food served with that label in your home country the same. If you have an average, not sensitive digestive system, then do yourself a favor and try street food. A good way to tell if you are going to have a good meal is to see how many locals are eating there. If the place is full of locals then the food is likely very good.
One thing to keep in mind is that the levels of “spicy” in Mexico are very different. If you ask a Mexican person if something is spicy and they say “a little” then run for the hills because you are about to burn your mouth like never before. If you do not like spicy food, then your best bet is to ask for food without hot peppers by asking “sin picante por favor”. There are foods that you have to try even if you do not like spicy food. Mole is a sauce made of different spices and chocolate that can range from mild to spicy, but it is worth trying.
A lot of restaurants in the states will give you free refills with your drinks, but in Mexico that is not the case. If you want a refill then it will be the price of an extra soft drink unless otherwise specified. There are a few exceptions to that rule including some fast food restaurants like Burger King and Wendy’s (not every one of them has free refills). Also keep in mind that restaurants charge almost as much for water as they do for soft drinks.
Another option to think about is “comida corrida” restaurants. They include the food and drink for free, and in many cases the free drink is a whole pitcher or a very tall glass of your favorite home-made drink. These drinks come in different flavors with the most popular being horchata, tamarind, lemon, orange and Jamaica flower.
Water is one thing that gets a bad reputation in Mexico and that is especially justified in smaller towns. Fortunately bottled water is available in every small store and supermarket. Look for Oxxo stores or 7-11 which are in the big cities and tourist towns. You can find the good brands for a lower price. If you are staying for a longer time then get a bigger bottle and save money. Water is one of the few things that will save you money if you go larger. Unlike in other countries where you save money by buying the larger sized products in Mexico you are likely to pay the same price no matter how much you buy. That means that if you get a 6 pack you could pay 20 pesos while a 12 pack will cost 40 (no savings).
If you are renting a vacation home and you have access to a stove then you can also boil the water. Though tap water supposedly safe to drink most people boil it for three minutes just to make sure.