Top 17 Mexico Travel Tips for Digital Nomads
Want to explore Mexico’s breathtaking views while staying connected with your work life? Here are the 17 essential Mexico travel tips you need to apply.
Mexico is a digital nomad hotspot known for its affordability, diverse landscapes, thriving community, and generous visa options. The year-round weather is great too, allowing tourists like you to explore ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins without much hassle.
But before you embark on a trip to Mexico, knowing what you’ll find there beforehand is a must. And I’m here to help you with that. In this post, I’ll share the best Mexico travel tips on how to save money, stay safe, and get the most out of the land of tacos as a digital nomad.
Top 17 Travel Tips for a Great Stay in Mexico
1. Plan Your Trip in Advance
While spontaneous trips seem great, they might not be as excellent as you think they are for a digital nomad like you. Here are a few downsides to unplanned trips, especially if you’re visiting Mexico for the first time:
- Disrupted work-life balance: Unplanned detours can disrupt your carefully crafted workflow. Imagine landing in a charming village with limited Wi-Fi just as a major deadline is coming.
- Budget problems: Spontaneous travel often means pricier last-minute flights and accommodation, which can quickly eat into your nest egg. Remember, responsible budgeting is key to sustaining your nomadic ventures.
- Logistics and papers: Visa requirements, currency exchange, and local nuances can catch you off guard if you haven't done your research. Spontaneity is fun, but a little pre-planning can go a long way in unfamiliar territory.
- Paralyzing your productive process: Constant movement can be disruptive to creative flow and deep work. While a change of scenery can be inspiring, finding a rhythm and establishing a temporary workspace is crucial for staying productive.
Mexico is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads for various reasons—its diverse landscapes, vibrant coastal towns, pristine beaches, rich culture, and affordable cost of living. Make sure to get the most out of your visit by laying out what you want to do starting day zero.
2. Consider the Cost of Traveling to Mexico
Conforming to the common concept that countries in Central America offer affordable travel experiences, Mexico is one of the best destinations for budget-conscious digital nomads. However, prices can still vary from place to place. If you’re not a meticulous planner, you might find your pockets feeling empty soon enough due to extra expenses.
Here’s a basic breakdown of what you need to consider when budgeting for your trip to Mexico:
- Airfare costs: Round-trip flights from the United States typically range from $400 to $800. Of course, this can still vary depending on your departure city, airline, travel dates, and booking time.
- Accommodation: Basic hostels start at around $10 to $15, typically with no breakfast provided, and offer bare minimum services. Hotels can cost from $75 to $300 but with other amenities besides basic accommodation. If you want to experience couch surfing or house sitting, you might be in for a free stay.
- Transportation: Mexico’s bus system is an efficient and affordable way to go around the country, especially for short trips. We recommend you don’t go for car rentals since foreigners are easy picks for traffic police. If you get a ticket, settling it may cost you a pretty high amount.
- Food: Prices vary depending on the area. Generally, expect to spend more on food in tourist spots than in rural areas. Budget restaurants typically offer food for $5 to $10. Drinks range from $1 to $5.
While your preferences matter the most by the end of the day, here are some money-saving tips to try if you don’t want to overspend on your stay in the country:
- Go around using buses and colectivos. They’re cheap, convenient, and generally safer than other modes of transportation.
- Don’t rush to fulfill your itinerary. While there are many great places in Mexico, traveling slowly can help save on accommodation and transportation expenses. Plus, it lets you explore the cities in depth.
- Cash over card. Foreign transaction fees can quickly pile up when paying with your credit card. If you don’t want to bring cash around, consider getting a Mexican prepaid card.
- If you use other currencies, exchange them at a Mexican bank. This way, you can avoid losing out on fixed exchange rates and prevent receiving counterfeit bills.
- Book your accommodations online. Websites like Booking.com might offer you discounts and promotional deals that help reduce your costs.
3. Choose the Best Time to Visit Mexico
You’ll see people flocking to Mexico during the dry season, which is arguably the best time to visit the country (if you’re okay with encountering a ton of tourists). This season lasts from November to April. But, since tourists are in high numbers, you can expect the prices to be pretty elevated, too.
Here are other Mexico travel tips you’d want to keep in mind when choosing the time to visit the country:
- Rainy season lasts from May to October. It’s wetter this season, so expect and pack for a wet trip. The rain is typically intermittent. You’d not only encounter smaller crowds but also get plenty of time to admire Mexico’s lush landscapes.
- Summer goes from November to April. You’ll have a great time visiting Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and the Yucatan Peninsula.
- April to June and October to December offer some of the best deals in Mexico. These are shoulder seasons, so the prices for transport and accommodation are much more likely to fit your budget.
- Go during the rainy season if you want cheap rates. Mexico’s tourism is pretty low during the rainy days. This means fewer tourists, lower prices, and more promotional deals for you.
- Expect high traffic during the Day of the Dead, New Year, Semana Santa, and other high times. You need to book your hotel, transportation, and even tour packages way in advance to secure a slot. While it can be a hassle, it’s the best time to enjoy Mexico’s culture in parades, processions, and other celebrations.
4. Explore the Must-Visit Destinations in Mexico
Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and diverse landscape make it a fascinating destination for digital nomads. There are canyons, ruins, and grand colonial cities that you can visit. Here are some of the must-see destinations you should add to your itinerary.
As the capital city of the country, you’ll find the very best in Mexico City—from the culture to the scenery. Here, you can see where ancient Aztec temples stand alongside colonial palaces, and bustling markets overflow with handicrafts. You can also visit Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul to charge your artistic soul.
If you’re looking to visit the ancient Mayan ruins, Tulum is the destination for you. The place also offers a bohemian atmosphere dotted with yoga studios, trendy boutiques, and beachside cafes.
Oaxaca takes festivals to the next level, making it a great place to visit if you’re looking for fun. One event worth mentioning here is the Guelaguetza festival, a celebration of indigenous music, dance, and culinary heritage.
Aside from the festivals, Oaxaca offers various food specialties to tantalize your taste buds, such as tlayudas and chapulines.
Cancun is highly urbanized, which might not interest you if you’re going to Mexico for its lush landscapes. Still, it offers some of the best nightlife experiences for tourists, especially in its hidden beach bars and affordable taco stands.
Playa del Carmen
This charming town offers a relaxed escape with something for everyone. Bask in the sunshine on postcard-perfect beaches like Playa Mamitas and Xcacel, hunt for souvenirs in the bustling Quinta Avenida, or discover the underwater paradise of Cozumel, a magnet for divers.
Aside from its stunning desert landscapes, Baja California is one of Mexico’s best when it comes to marine life. If you go there from December to April, you’ll witness the fascinating annual migration of gray whales along the coast.
5. Pack Appropriately for Mexico
Mexico's vastness brings diverse climates, so packing depends heavily on your destination and season. Here’s a breakdown of what your main clothing category should be, depending on the areas that you want to visit:
- Central and northern Mexico: These places are generally warm and dry, with hot summers (30-40°C) and mild winters (15-25°C). Pack breathable clothing for summer and light layers for cooler evenings.
- Coastal areas: Expect them to be hot and humid year-round (25-35°C) with a rainy season from May to October. Pack quick-drying clothes, swimwear, and a rain jacket.
- Southern Highlands: Year-round, you’ll experience pretty pleasant temperatures (15-28°C). Do pack for layers, as nights can get chilly.
You should also consider packing based on the activities you want to try in Mexico. Below are a few recommendations we have for you:
- Beaches and water sports: Surfing, diving, snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing are popular along the coasts. Pack swimwear, sunglasses, water shoes, and a beach towel.
- Cultural exploration: If you want to explore ancient ruins and local museums, expect a lot of walking and sun time. So, make sure to bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a hat.
- Adventure activities: If you’re going for the rugged experience, you might want to try hiking, biking, spelunking, and climbing. Consider packing appropriate gear and footwear for your chosen activity. Alternatively, you can buy them in Mexico for convenience.
- Food and relaxation: Sample delicious local cuisine in restaurants or traditional markets. Bring loose-fitting clothes for food crawls and comfortable attire for lounging at resorts.
For the best experience and to reduce hassle midway through your travel activities, bring cash (in small bills). While most cards are readily accepted, you’ll have to pay certain foreign charges.
Also, remember, you’re a digital nomad. Don’t forget your work gear.
6. Stay Safe in Mexico
Mexico is infamous due to frequent media coverage of delinquent activities in its vicinity. However, it’s actually one of the safest countries in Central America. Statistically, it might even be safer than certain US areas, such as Chicago and New Orleans.
But just like anywhere else, it takes some precautionary measures to truly stay safe while enjoying your nomadic lifestyle in Mexico. To avoid safety problems, keep in mind the following:
- Follow government advice on areas to avoid in the country: Currently, the US State Department recommends you avoid going to Colima, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas.
- Travel using Uber, especially for short-distance trips at night. For longer distances, consider using a hotel shuttle.
- Don’t go out in the wee hours. Also, avoid wearing clubbing outfits, especially short shorts, when going out in the daytime. If you really want to go out after dark, ask the hotel staff about the neighborhoods to avoid.
- Always pay attention to your bartender’s hands. If you’re going to drink, make sure to watch the entire preparation to avoid spiking.
- Avoid drinking tap water. Mexico is infamous for Montezuma’s revenge, which basically equates to traveler’s diarrhea. Preferably, use bottled water to do everything related to your mouth, such as eating and brushing your teeth.
- Use a small bag. Leave your luggage or large backpacks at your accommodation to avoid attention.
- Distribute your cash around your body. Put them in your shoes, underwear, pockets, and other places you can hide your cash. Don’t leave them in one location only. When withdrawing cash from ATMs, do it in small amounts.
- Consider traveling in groups. Especially when visiting crowded tourist spots, traveling in groups helps steer away pickpockets.
In the event that you encounter danger, call 911. Make sure you learn at least basic Spanish, as Mexico doesn’t have a dedicated English-speaking line for foreigners.
7. Learn the Visa Requirements for Mexico
If you’re visiting Mexico as a tourist, you’d need no visa if:
- You’re a US, UK, New Zealand, Canada, or Japan citizen staying in Mexico for a maximum of 180 days.
- You’re European and staying for up to 90 days only.
- You’re qualified for the Visa Waiver Program, which is available for New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the UK, and most Western European countries.
Should you not be one of these people, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Visa for Mexico instead. This allows you to extend your stay in the country to up to 4 years. Note that Mexico doesn’t have a dedicated Digital Nomad Visa yet.
To get a Mexico visa, you should submit the following documents:
- Application form, including your
- Name, sex, birthday, and birthplace
- Passport details
- Marital status
- Job details
- Reasons to travel to Mexico
- Original and photocopy of your entire passport, which should have been issued in the last decade and is valid for at least six more months
- Proof of reservation of a return flight ticket
- Two headshots of yourself, taken with the following guidelines:
- 3.9 cm x 3.1 cm in size
- White background
- Neutral expression
- Glasses are allowed as long as facial features are clearly visible
- Unless there are religious implications, no headgear is allowed
- Proof of accommodation in Mexico
- Proof of financial income, including bank statements, employer’s letter, and property ownership papers
- Police clearance certificate
Note that these documents must be in English or Spanish. Non-speakers of these two languages must have them translated into and legalized in Spanish. Visa fees apply.
8. Consider All-Inclusive Vacation Packages
If you want your stay in Mexico to be worry-free, getting an all-inclusive vacation package might be for you. By paying a certain fee, your accommodation, food, transportation, and itinerary would be covered by the travel agency you contracted with. All you have to do is settle your payment and show up.
While the prices vary depending on a number of factors, here’s a list of travel agencies that offer some of the best all-inclusive vacation packages to Mexico in terms of cost and service:
- Funjet Vacations: Goes from $600 to $1000 for a three-night hotel stay and flight
- Costco: If you have a membership, you’ll find really great deals for your Mexican visit.
- Apple Vacations: Fees go from $600 to $1700 across a wide selection of all-inclusive resorts in the country
If you’re ready to take your all-inclusive package to the next level, you might also want to try the Mexican vacation offer of Atelier De Hoteles. In particular, consider staying at the splendid Atelier Playa Mujeres, known for its luxurious tourist experience.
9. Make the Most of Mexico Itinerary
Mexico offers diverse landscapes, buzzing cities, and laid-back beach towns, making it a digital nomad paradise. But with so much to choose from, planning can be overwhelming. You should ensure that you can manage your work well remotely while also getting into the depths of Mexican culture.
For the Culture Lovers and Foodies
If you’re a culture lover and foodie seeking fast internet and vibrant nightlife, you might want to visit Mexico City & Mérida for a week each.
In Mexico City, you can explore the Teotihuacan pyramids and admire art at Frida Kahlo's museum. Meanwhile, you can visit charming cafes on Plaza Grande, explore nearby cenotes, and enjoy traditional Yucatecan cuisine in Merida.
For the Beach Bums and Adventure Seekers
For nature enthusiasts, surfers, and those seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure, Tulum and Oaxaca would be worth visiting.
Tulum offers some of the best beachfront co-working spaces where you can relax and work at the same time. Oaxaca, on the other hand, will charm you with its rich indigenous culture, buzzing markets, and delicious street food. Work from cafes overlooking colonial plazas, learn Spanish, and take day trips to archaeological sites like Monte Albán.
Your ultimate itinerary will depend on your needs as a digital nomad. While touring the country is a top priority, always make sure to be in places where you can connect to the online world to keep your business doing well while you’re relaxing.
10. Experience the Local Cuisine
While tacos are an icon of Mexico, there’s so much other local cuisine that the country has to offer. You can only say that you’ve gone on a Mexican trip if you’ve tried their authentic local food. Here’s a list of must-try dishes:
- Pozole: Hearty stew with hominy, meat, and vegetables, perfect for a cozy day.
- Tamales: Steamed cornmeal dough pouches filled with savory surprises like meat, cheese, or vegetables.
- Esquites: Grilled corn on the cob dressed in flavorful mayo, cheese, and spices.
- Churros: Crispy fried dough pastries dusted in cinnamon sugar, ideal for dipping in chocolate.
- Tostadas: Fried tortillas topped with a colorful fiesta of meat, cheese, vegetables, or beans.
- Quesadillas: Melted cheese tucked inside warm tortillas, ready to embrace additional fillings like meat or veggies.
- Enchiladas: Rolled tortillas brimming with deliciousness, smothered in sauce, and baked to perfection.
This list is just a starting point for your culinary adventure in Mexico. As you visit the local food streets and participate in fiestas, you’ll taste much more.
11. Engage in Sustainable Tourism Practices
Mexico’s diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage are worth protecting, and being an eco-conscious traveler is key to that. Here are some ways you can minimize your footprint during your stay in the country:
- Opt for eco-lodges. Eco-lodges are those hostels and accommodations that use renewable resources, promote recycling, and do other sustainability practices. They’re usually away from the cities, so they connect you more deeply to the natural side of Mexico.
- Visit Isla Holbox. It’s a sustainable destination that bans vehicles—you have to go around by bike or foot. You’ll find Hotel Casa Blat Ha here, which is popular for its use of wind power for energy and an orchard full of medicinal plants.
- Choose local. It reduces environmental impact through localized supply chains and conservation practices. Plus, you help build local businesses by injecting income into the community, fostering economic development.
12. Stay Connected
Managing your business or work is a large part of your digital nomad ventures. Here are some options for staying connected while you’re in Mexico:
- Try Google Fi. Fi eliminates international roaming charges, a major perk for nomads like you.
- Get a local SIM. To really stay connected, your best bet is to get a local SIM from providers like Telcel.
- Leverage free public Wi-Fi services. Many cafes around Mexico offer free Wi-Fi. Just make sure to use a VPN and enable an enhanced firewall to keep your data safe.
13. Learn Basic Spanish
As a tourism hotspot, you’ll find that many Mexicans can communicate with you in English. But this is true mostly for urbanized areas. If you’re planning to go somewhere off the cities, it’s best you learn a few basic Spanish phrases. Moreover, Mexico’s 911 doesn’t always have an English-speaking operator.
Here are some starters:
- ¿Dónde está el hospital? — Where's the hospital?
- ¿Habla inglés? — Do you speak English?
- ¿Cuánto cuesta? — How much does it cost?
- La cuenta, por favor. — The bill, please.
- Llame a la policía. — Call the police.
Apps like Google Translate also offer real-time translation, which you can use for better communication.
14. Be Prepared for Outdoor Adventures
Here are some of the most popular outdoor adventures in Mexico that you should definitely try:
- Hiking: There’s the Copper Canyon, the world's second-largest canyon system. And if you go in the right season, you can hike through the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to witness the awe-inspiring annual migration of millions of monarch butterflies. Make sure to bring comfortable hiking shoes, a change of clothes, water, and sunscreen.
- Scuba-diving: Yucatán offers some of the best crystal-clear cenotes and caverns that you can visit through scuba-diving. Make sure to have your license ready and get your gear from certified stores. If you don’t have any experience, you might want to visit the shallow waters of Cancun's Underwater Museum instead.
- Horseback riding: Copper Canyon and Oaxaca also offer horseback riding experiences. If you’re not used to riding one, get a local guide to accompany you.
15. Capture the Moment
Make sure to bring a camera with you to capture your best experiences in Mexico. A compact camera would be a great choice if you care about portability and convenience, especially if you're traveling light. Look for models with large sensors like the Sony RX100 VII or Canon G7 X Mark III for good image quality in low light and zoom capabilities.
Meanwhile, if you’re sure to go for adventurous activities like surfing, action cameras like GoPro and DJI would be better.
If you're interested in capturing the unique flora and fauna of the area, a macro lens will allow you to get close-up shots of flowers, insects, and other small details. Meanwhile, if you're planning on visiting waterfalls or other scenic spots with bright sunlight, a neutral density filter will help you control the exposure and capture smooth water movement.
16. Protect Against the Sun and Enjoy the Mexico Experience
As mentioned, Mexico’s rains are typically intermittent, so expect quite a lot of sun time. Sun protection is key, so make sure to slather on SPF 30+ sunscreen and wear wide-brimmed hats while exploring.
It’s a good idea to go to ancient ruins or do your outdoor activities at dawn or dusk. And when you do, make sure to have an insulated water bottle for you to have a refreshing cold drink.
This sun-savvy approach lets you fully embrace the Mexican experience, from stunning beaches to colorful culture, without compromising your health. All that’s left for you to do is enjoy!
17. Embrace the Laid-Back Life in Mexico
Mexico is known for being a laid-back country. And as a digital nomad, such a lifestyle adds the cherry on top to your work-life balance. Enjoy the outdoors, chat with the ever-so-friendly locals, and embrace the rich Mexican culture while you’re there!
Make the Most of Mexico
As a digital nomad, hopping from country to country won’t let you explore the depths of Mexico—from its cultural heritage to its hidden gems. But you can always return. Aside from applying these Mexico travel tips, visit Nomad Insurance and explore your options to enjoy a worry-free stay in the land of tacos.
People Also Ask
What I wish I knew before traveling to Mexico?
You can stay connected using Google Fi instead of buying a local SIM card. Also, note that Mexico’s 911 hotline might not have an English-speaking operator readily available, so be sure to learn basic Spanish.
What do you need before traveling to Mexico?
If you’re staying in Mexico for more than 180 days, you need a Temporary Resident Visa. Then, to fully enjoy your stay, bring a camera, outdoor clothes, sunscreen and, of course, your work gear.
What are some things tourists should be careful about in Mexico?
Tourists should be careful with their clothing, especially avoiding revealing clothes. Spiking is also common in clubs, so pay attention. Moreover, avoid drinking tap water to prevent suffering from traveler’s diarrhea.
Do I need malaria pills for Mexico?
Not really, but it’s a good preventive measure. Mexico’s risk of malaria outbreaks is low.