4 Days in Mexico City: Planning the Ultimate CDMX Trip

posted by Shelley | last updated January 14, 2021

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Planning to spend 4 days in Mexico City? You’re in for an epic trip!

You’re also in the right place — and you’ve come to the right guide, as I lived there for nearly a year! I love Mexico City so fiercely… but as North America’s largest city, planning a trip to Mexico City, AKA CDMX, can be intimidating.

However, it doesn’t have to be!

Speaking from experience, the keys to planning the ultimate CDMX trip are to 1) plan ahead, and 2) plan strategically. With these two strategies, you’re going to experience the best places in Mexico City.

The ultimate 4 Day #MexicoCity Itinerary 🇲🇽 Written by an (ex) local who fell madly in love at first sight with #CDMX, discover the best sites, tours, neighborhoods, tacos! 💚🌮❤️ #Travel #Mexico

How to Plan Your Mexico City Trip

To maximize your time, given the city’s massive size and countless things to see, is to plan your trip so you’re spending one day in all of the best neighborhoods.

With a population of close to nine million, the Mexico City traffic is infamous. It’s also not something you want to avoid at all costs!

If you plan your trip by neighborhood, you minimize the amount of time spent traveling to things, and maximize the amount of time you’re, you know, actually traveling!

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street


CHECK OUT EPISODE #11 | 5 reasons Mexico is perfect for U.S. travelers

Now, let’s look at a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to planning the most amazing 4 days in Mexico City you can possibly have!

…but first, I recommend you identify what neighborhood you want to stay in! Scroll down for a quick primer on the nicest, best areas to stay in Mexico City.



Best Mexico City Neighborhoods

On the map below, you’ll find all the areas mentioned in this blog. They have the largest concentrations of things to do in CDMX, and are the best neighborhoods in Mexico City, overall.

For first timer visitors and solo female travelers, I really recommend sticking to either Roma Norte or Condesa for a place to stay. These two are safe, cool, fun and best of all, centrally located. However, the two others you might consider are Coyoacan and Polanco.

Below is a quick rundown on these four areas, some of the best, safest neighborhoods in Mexico City. Check the Mexico City map below to get a better idea of where all they are, as well as all the areas mentioned in this article.

Roma Norte

• Pick Roma Norte for: It has everything all the other areas have, it just happens to also be the prettiest!
Best Things to Do in Roma Norte: Stroll Avenida Alvaro Obregon, Visit the Museo del Objeto del Objeto (Museum of the Purpose of the Object), Visit Fuente de Cibeles (Cibeles Fountain)
• Best Parks in Roma Norte: Plaza Luis Cabrera, Fuente de Cibeles
Best Tacos in Roma Norte: Taqueria Orinoco, Tres Galeones, El Hidalguense

Roma Norte Mexico City

I lived here in Roma, and this neighborhood captured my heart! Seriously, it was love at first sight. From the beautiful architecture, pretty parks, walkability, cute cafes, street art, street tacos, and overall chill vibe, Roma Norte is my pick for Mexico City’s best neighborhood.

Roma Norte (North Rome) and Roma Sur (South Rome) make up Colonia Roma (Rome Colony). In Mexico City, colonias are designated areas within counties. Roma Norte is the nicer of the two, and tends to have better Airbnb options, which you’ll find below.

Roma Norte’s Best Airbnbs

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• Pick Condesa for: Beautiful parks during the day, and great bars at night
Best Things to Do in Condesa: Stroll the Hipódromo around Avenida Amsterdam (Amsterdam Ave.), Eat some churros from Churreria El Moro in Parque España
Best Parks in Condesa: Parque España, Parque Mexico
Best Tacos in Condesa: El Pescadito, Taqueria El Greco, El Tizoncito

Condesa Mexico City

You’ll sometimes see this area referred to by its technical name, La Condesa, but they are the same neighborhood. Condesa and Roma, which I call “sister neighborhoods,” are right next to one another. 

While they are both great, with the same great amenities and hip vibes, Condesa is a little more lively at night, and a little louder, which is why I chose to live in Roma. If you’re looking for more nightlife, you might pick Condesa over Roma.

Condesa’s Best Airbnbs

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• Pick Polanco for: Upscale accommodations
Best Things to Do in Polanco: Visit Museo Soumaya and Museuo Jumex (museums), Shop till you drop on Avenida Presidente Masaryk (Presidente Masaryk Ave.), AKA the Rodeo Drive of Mexico
Best Parks in Polanco: Parque Lincoln, Parque America
Best Tacos in Polanco: El Turix, La Casa del Pastor, Taqueria El Califa

Polanco Mexico City

This most posh area of CDMX, located in the northwestern part of Mexico City. While this is certainly a nice area of town, and there are some great museums and shopping, I tend to steer people away because this isn’t the most walkable area and Mexico City’s traffic isn’t great.

However, if you do want to stay in Polanco, here’s a list of the best Polanco Airbnbs:

Polanco’s Best Airbnbs

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• Pick Coyoacan for: Off-the-beaten-path, funky, artsy vibes!
Best Things to Do in Coyoacan: Frida Kahlo Museum AKA Casa Azul (Blue House), shop the Mercado Artesinal (Artisan Market), see a movie at the Cineteca Nacional (National Cinema)
Best Parks in Coyoacan: Jardin Centenario, Frida Kahlo Park
Best Tacos in Coyoacan: Casa de los Tacos, Super Tacos Chupacabras, but also, get some tostadas at Mercado Coyoacan

Coyoacan Mexcio City

Coyoacan is a lovely neighborhood, in fact, it’s where Frida Kahlo lived!

The one negative to Coyoacan is that it’s in the south part of the city, so getting to anything north (where most of the stuff you want to see is!) takes a lot of time. I do recommend spending time in this neighborhood, however, Roma or Condesa make for a better home base.

If you do want to stay in Coyoacan, make sure you pick one of the Airbnbs on this list. This area is walkable in some parts, and not so much in others. It’s also cute in some parts, and frankly, not cute in others! 

Coyoacan’s Best Airbnbs

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Day 1: Teotihuacan Archeological Site

Teotihuacan is one of the oldest and most important of Mexico’s archeological sites, and one of the 27 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. In fact, Mexico City shares top honors for the most UNESCO Sites with Oaxaca state; each of them has three.

While suggesting you devote one full day of your 4 day Mexico City trip to seeing Teotihuacan may seem extreme, realistically, visiting Teotihuacan is a daylong affair.

For those who simply can’t sacrifice one whole day, book the Teotihuacán Express Tour or the Teotihuacán Quickie Tour. These abridged tours means you won’t get the full experience, but you will get to at least see this amazing place.

Though only about 35 miles north of Centro Historico (downtown), the drive alone can take up to two hours due to the Mexico City traffic. 

How can you cut your travel time down? Head out early; as in arrive to Teotihuacan right when it opens at 9am.

Teotihuacan hot air balloon ride
Book the Hot Air Balloon Teotihuacan Tour to see this ancient archeological site from above — the only real way to appreciate its vastness!

This strategy not only reduces your time in traffic, but it also reduces your time in the hot, midday sun! 

Teotihuacan, and most Mexican archeological sites, often lack one thing — shaded areas. As historians frequently conduct research at Teotihuacan, most trees have been cleared for ease of study. 

If you’re looking to climb all three of Teotihuacan’s pyramids, you’ll definitely want to arrive early so you’re not waking up hundreds of stairs under the midday sun! When the sun gets more intense, head indoors to the Teotihuacan Museum and the semi-shaded Sculpture Garden.

After you visit Teotihuacan, spend some time exploiting the Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town) of San Juan Teotihuacan, where the pyramids are located. Take the Experience with A Teotihuacan Native Tour to really understand this magical area!

When it’s time to eat, head to the La Gruta (the grotto/cave) restaurant.

As the name likely clued you in on, this restaurant is in fact located inside a cave! La Gruta serves both tacos and other traditional Mexican favorites, and also uncommon dishes like escamoles, often referred to as Mexican caviar.

Head to both La Gruta and Teotihuacan on the Live the Pyramids & Eat Under the Earth Tour.

Teotihuacan pyramid


✔️ Head to Teotihuacan very early, and try arrive when it opens.
✔️ Wear sunscreen, a hat, sneakers, and bring your sunnies & water bottle.

How do I get from Mexico City to Teotihuacan?

How to Drive to Teotihuacan: I will never (ever, ever) suggest anyone rent a car in Mexico City, however, if you are driving, this isn’t a difficult drive. Make sure you read these Mexico driving tips before you go!

Mexico City to Teotihuacan Map

Uber to Teotihuacan: Besides taking a tour, this is the most convenient way to get to Teotihuacan. I took an Uber there, and it cost about $1,000 pesos ($50), round trip.

Pro tip: There was a designated “Uber Zone,” where people seemed to have the most success getting a cell signal, and the area where Uber drivers knew to pick passengers up.

Bus to Teotihuacan: Buses depart from Mexico City about every 30-45 minutes from Terminal del Norte (North Terminal). Round trip tickets are about $150 pesos ($7). When you arrive at the bus station, look for Gate 8, and buy your ticket from the booth near the end of that concourse. 

Pro tip: Double check to make sure your bus goes to the Teotihuacan archeological site — and not the town of San Juan Teotihuacan!

Teotihuacan Tours

The easiest, most convenient way to see Teotihuacan? On an Airbnb Experience tour, of course.

Never heard of Airbnb Experience? You’re not alone! While most people have heard of Airbnb for home/apartment rentals, Airbnb Experiences are newer and lesser-known — but just as awesome.

Basically, these are small group tours; though I’m actually a bigger fan of Airbnb Experiences! I’ve done several of these all over Mexico, and think they’re great because:

  1. You’re directly supporting a local and the local economy.
  2. They are smaller groups, which means a more personalized experience.
  3. You can instantly book them online, so you won’t have to spend your precious travel time finding a tour company.
  4. Like with an Airbnb stay, the guide gets rated at the end, motivating them to do a great job.
  5. They are a great and easy way to meet fellow solo travelers — even for introverts!

Here are the ones you can take to visit Teotihuacan:

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podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street


CHECK OUT EPISODE #14 | Pt. 1: Travel off the beaten path in Mexico

Day 2: Coyoacan & Xochilimco

Located not far from one another in the southern part of CDMX, Xochilimco and Coyoacan make a great one-day Mexico City excursion. For these two destinations, you’re going to want to do a little advanced planning.

Coyoacan is one of the city’s most colorful neighborhoods, and the former home to one of its most colorful women, Frida Kahlo. As one of Mexico’s iconic figures, you can imagine the Frida Kahlo Museum, AKA Casa Azul (Blue House), draws some crowds.

As the name Casa Azul states, this is her blue house, which is a great glimpse into the artist’s life — but it also means this isn’t a big museum, it’s a small (well, smallish) house. The line starts forming early, and stays long all day, as only a few people can go in at a time.

If you are planning to visit, please do yourself this simple favor…

Casa Azul (Blue House) AKA Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, Mexico
It me! The famous Casa Azul (Blue House) AKA Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan.

Buy your Frida Kahlo tickets in advance!

When you buy your tickets online, you select an entry time and day, and your ticket is emailed to you. On the day of your “reservation,” you show up at that time, and they scan the ticket in your email. 

Looking for a more in-depth Frida Kahlo experience while visiting her hometown? Take the Frida Kahlo, Coyoacan & Mezcal Tour to see the artist’s Casa Azul (Blue House) and some other famous Frida sites in Coyoacan.

If you go on your own, I recommend getting an early time slot. This way, you can see the museum and some of Coyoacan, before heading to Xochilimco in the afternoon.

Want a deeper understanding of this historic neighborhood? Book the Coyoacan Legends Tour, where you’ll see five of the neighborhood’s best sites on a curated tour with a local.

colorful trajineras, gondola-style boats, at Xochimilco.
The most fun way to go to Xochimilco? On a group tour, like the Xochimilco: Tequila, Mezcal & Fun Tour, or the Xochimilco and Mexican Party Tour!

Home to Mexico City’s brightly-colored trajineras (gondola) boats, Xochimilco is high atop many Mexico City bucket lists.

What is Xochimilco?

Lake Xochimilco is a series of canals, man-made by the Aztecs way back in the day as a commerce and trade thoroughfare. It is now one of Mexico City’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Famed for its festive atmosphere, visitors and locals alike charter trajinera boats to go out on the canals and see this more natural side of Mexico City.

While boating through the canals, other boats will float past yours selling food, beer and pulque, a prehispanic adult beverage made from fermented agave. Pulque is an acquired taste, but worth trying at least once in CDMX.

You’ll also see boats with mariachi bands floating past, which you can hire to sing you some songs. As you can see, Xochimilco is a bit of a fiesta — and it’s a lot of fun with a group.

For this reason, I highly recommend one of the group tour Airbnb Experiences below! 

Pro tip: I also recommend a Xochimilco tour for anyone who isn’t confident with their Spanish. Xochimilco boat prices, your trip length, etc. have to be negotiated with boat captains before they agree to take you.

Xochimilco Tours

Here are the Airbnb Experiences you can take to visit Xochimilco on a group tour:

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How to Get Awesome Photos as a Solo Traveler

Day 3: Centro Historico & Chapultepec Park

With its endless amounts of history, you could spend weeks exploring Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) and the Zocalo. Looking for the deepest possible understanding of this amazing area of Mexico City? Book your spot on the Secrets of the Historic Center of Mexico.

Just want to see a few thing? Here are the five best things to do in Centro Historico.

1. Zocalo: This is the central square in downtown Mexico City. It is an actual square with the Templo Mayor (Main Temple of the Aztecs), Metropolitan Cathedral and Palacio Nacional as the highlights. While they are all great, I’d spend the most time exploring the Templo Mayor, the most important Aztec site in CDMX.

2. Palacio Bellas Artes: If you’ve ever seen an image of downtown Mexico City, chances are you’ve seen Palacio Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts). This golden-domed, classical European building is a work of art in itself, but do head inside to see the gorgeous art deco interior and museum.

3. Alameda Central: Located next to Palacio Bellas Artes, the well-maintained Parque Alameda Central is a large urban park with beautiful sculptures and fountains. Don’t miss the beautiful Benito Juarez Hemicycle monument and the Bellas Artes Metro sign, a gift from the French president.

4. Torre Latinoamerica (Latin American Tower): An iconic building in Mexico City’s skyline! Head to the top of the tower on a clear day for some amazing city views. Located nearby, take the elevator inside the Sears department store building to the cafe on the top floor for another vantage point.

5. Eat Tacos: Centro Historico boasts many of Mexico City’s most well known and beloved taquerías (taco shops) and restaurants.

Some of the standouts include: Los Cocuyos, El Huequito, Taquería Arandas and El Pescadito. Don’t miss Tacos de Canasta los Especiales to try tacos de canasta (basket taco), Mexico City’s original street food taco.

Still need more tacos? This is totally normal, btw! Here’s some of the Mexico City’s best taco tours.

Mexico City Taco Tours

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Lake at Chapultepec Park
Book the Discover Chapultepec on Bicycle Tour to cover as much ground as possible at this giant park!

After a few hours in Centro Historico, head to the Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park).

Now, this park is massive — as in 1,700 acres massive! Given its large size and variety of attractions, you could spend a week in Chapultepec and not see everything. From the beautiful Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle), nine museums, two lakes, a zoo, and more, you have to be intentional with your time.

Looking to see a lot of this park? Book the Discover Chapultepec on Bicycle Tour to cover as much ground as possible.

If you’re headed there on foot, the two standout attractions in the park are the Castillo de Chapultepec and National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología), the most visited museum in all of Mexico City!

The castillo is North America’s only real castle, because royalty did once live there. The former home of Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota is now considered one of CDMX’s most iconic sites.

Pro tip: Admission is free on Sundays, but arrive early because it gets crowded! They open at 9am.

Of the park’s nine, if you had to pick just one museum in the park, consider the Anthropology Museum. This covers thousands (yes, thousands) of years of Mexico’s history, dating all the way back to the elusive Olmec civilization in ca. 2,500-400BC, which was over 4,500 years ago.

Seem overwhelming?! Oh, it is.

If you want to get the most out of this world-class museum, book the Mexico Unearthed at Anthropology Museum Tour, led by a female anthropologist/archaeologist with 22 years of experience in Mexican history.

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street


CHECK OUT EPISODE #07 | Afraid to travel solo? You need these 5 tips

Day 4: Roma Norte & La Condesa

Tell me if you know this statement all too well:

I need a vacation from my vacation!

In an effort for you to not feel that way at the end of your 4 days in Mexico City, this last day is all about relaxation, pretty parks, and of course, tacos! For this reason, I highly recommend you spend your last day in two of Mexico City’s best neighborhoods, Roma and Condesa, just strolling around.

Prefer a guided tour? Book the Roma & Condesa Discovery Tour, which covers both neighborhoods.

Does the name Roma ring a bell? It should; this is the neighborhood from the movie Roma, the 2019 Oscar-winning film by Mexican director, Alfonso Cuaron.

Within Colonia Roma, you’ll notice there’s both a Roma Norte (North Rome) and Roma Sur (South Rome) neighborhood. They are both great and safe, though personally, I find Roma Norte the prettier of the two.

Some of the neighborhood’s nicest architecture, and best cafes and shops line Avenida Álvaro Obregón (Alvaro Obregon Ave.). This street also comes alive at night, having some of Mexico City’s best nightlife spots right here, as well as the best late night taquería (taco shop), Taqueria Orinoco.

Urban park with large white sculptures in Mexico City
Parque España (Spain Park) in Condesa.

Just across one of Mexico City’s main streets, Avenida Insurgentes (Insurgents Avenue), you’ll find yourself in Roma Norte’s sister neighborhood, La Condesa. 

Get to know the Condesa neighborhood by strolling the tree-lined Hipódromo (racetrack), a walkable pathway that circles Avenida Amsterdam (Amsterdam Ave.). Once a horse racing track, as you’d notice from its name and circular shape, the street is now a peaceful way to explore La Condesa.

Don’t miss Parque Mexico (Mexico Park) and Parque España (Spain Park), two of Mexico City’s nicest parks that are both in Condesa.

tacos and a beer at restaurant in Mexico City
Taqueria Orinoco in Roma Norte. Try all three varieties at res (beef), trompo (tacos al pastor) & chicharrón (fried pork skin).

Besides leisurely walking around and looking at buildings and street art, Rome Norte and La Condesa boast some of the best restaurants, cafes and bars in the city. Here are a few recommendations, all pinned to this map of Roma Norte and La Condesa.

Best places to eat and drink in Roma and Condesa

  • Best Coffee/Tea Shops: Cardinal Casa de Café, Blend Station, Efimero Cafe, Cafebrería el Péndulo, Tomás Casa de Té, La Esquina de Té, Casa Tassel (the last 3 are tea shops)
  • Best Bakeries/Brunch: Panaderia Rosetta, Lalo!, Que Sera de Mi, Maque
  • Best Lunch: Contramar, Fonda Fina, La Docena, Lardo
  • Best Dinner Restaurants: Rosetta, Maximo Bistrot, Azul Condesa, MeroToro
  • Best Tacos: Taquería Orinoco (tacos al pastor), El Hidalguense (barbacoa/barbeque, open on weekends only), El Pescadito (seafood tacos), Tacos Hola el Güero (tacos guisados/stew tacos), Por Siempre Vegana Taquería (vegan tacos), Taqueria El Greco (tacos arabes/Arabian tacos)
  • Best Bars/Nightlife: Casa Franca (cocktails/speakeasy), Limantour (cocktails), Wallace Whisky Bar (whisky/spirits), La Clandestina (mezcal), Hotel Condesa DF (rooftop bar), Pulqueria Insurgentes (pulque), Loup Bar (wine), El Depósito (beer)

Hoping for a deeper understanding of Mexico’s adult beverages? Book a spot on the Mezcal, Tequila & Pulque Tasting Tour now.

Mexico City Travel FAQs

Is Mexico City safe?

Keep in mind that CDMX is a big (huge) city. As with most big cities, Mexico City has its share of good/bad areas. I believe if you follow the general safety guidelines you’d follow when traveling anywhere, you’ll also be safe her.

Also common of big cities, Mexico City has the same moderate levels of crime you’d expect from say London, Rome and NYC. When I say crime here, I mostly mean petty theft — especially on public transport — which is why I advise Uber over public transport (keep scrolling to see more reasons why).

I lived in Mexico City as a solo woman for about a year, and felt quite safe. While there are neighborhoods you should avoid, like Tepito and Doctores*, all areas I listed in this blog are known to be pretty safe.

How to (safely) see a Lucha Libre match in Mexico City:

*While I consider Mexico City generally quite safe, even as a solo female traveler, the Doctores neighborhood does not have a great reputation! It is located just north or Roma Norte, and also happens to be where all the big Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) matches take place.

I did go to a Lucha Libre match here once, and felt safe. However, this might be a good place to consider having a local with you — especially if your Spanish isn’t so great.

Don’t know a local? No worries! Book the Lucha Libre/Street Taco Tour, because Lucha Libre + Street Tacos + Safety = the best of all worlds!

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street


CHECK OUT EPISODE #03 | My take on solo female travel safety in Mexico

Mexico City Public Transportation or Uber?

Though Mexico City has a great (and inexpensive) public transportation system, I vote for Uber all the way.

Here’s why:

Uber in Mexico is much cheaper than in the U.S. For instance, the 8-mile bus trip going from Roma Norte to Coyoacan would cost you about $1 — however, it could take close to two hours! The same trip in an Uber would, on average, costs $4 and takes 30 minutes.

Uber is also safer. While I did live in Mexico City for about a year, and I found it to be quite safe, the few instances I heard of anyone getting pickpocketed took place on the bus or metro. Of course, most people have no issues, but I never wanted to take the risk of a stolen phone.

Colorful domes in churches of downtown Mexico City
The beautiful, domed buildings of Centro Historico.

Should I purchase Travel Insurance?

Short answer: um, HELL YES!

Want extra Mexico City travel peace of mind? Then don’t take any chances with your health and belongings while overseas.

For this, I can’t recommend travel insurance enough!

World Nomads is one of the most well reputed and used companies in the world for travel insurance.

Policies cover a range of circumstances, including medical and dental care, luggage loss, emergency evacuation from your destination & even certain adventure sport activities.

For more information on travel insurance, I have a whole page dedicated to this topic. If safety is on your mind, get your free quote now!

List of useful spanish words and phrases

Do I need to speak Spanish to visit Mexico City?

If you stick to the popular areas and commonly-visited attractions, no, you can get by with just English. For the most part, many Chilangos (Mexico City residents/locals) speak some English.

However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico City. Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.

However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico City. Listen to Episode 13 of the podcast as travel blogger Elizabeth talk about how she learned 8 languages, and gives great tips for how to learn language basics in easy, fun ways.

If learning Spanish isn’t in the cards for you, #NoJudgement! Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street


CHECK OUT EPISODE #08 | Alex’s 35 Tips for Traveling to Mexico

Have any tips on taking a 4 day trip to Mexico City?

Please let me know in the comments down below!

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¡Hola Chicas!

👋 I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! I started this blog & podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel & Mexico travel off your bucket list…


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