5 Reasons Mexico is One of the Best First Time Solo Travel Destinations

 

Let me tell you 5 ways Mexico is the best first time solo female travel destination!
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Researching first time solo travel destinations?

As we come out of Quarantine 2020, you likely have a combination of wanderlust & no travel buddy. Meaning this: Your first solo trip is likely on your mind!

As a longtime solo female traveler in Mexico, I’m here to tell you 5 reasons why Mexico is one of the best first time solo travel destinations! If this is your first international trip, Mexico is the best country for your!

👋 Hi, I’m Shelley & I have been solo travelin’ my way through Mexico since April 2018! I’ve been to half the states in this country & I know first-hand how amazing Mexico really is — from the food, to the cities to the off the beaten path destinations.

🧳✈️🌎 READ MORE ABOUT How I became a confident solo female traveler!

Now, I’m no psychic — though I do know what you’re thinking right now! It’s something along these lines: But “everyone says Mexico isn’t safe.

You’re certainly right about that! “Everyone” (in quotes) does seem to believe Mexico isn’t safe… and don’t worry, I’ll address your (& their!) general Mexico safety concerns before the end of this blog.

For now, let’s switch gears to learn the 5 reasons why Mexico is among the best first time solo travel destinations.

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Mexico is huge country, full of off the beaten path places  and so much more than just Cancun, Tulum & Cabo San Lucas! Download this pretty pdf & learn about 10 Mexico hidden gems. Hint: One of them is in the photo on the cover & you need to know about it right now!

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Mexico Is A Short Flight Away

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First & foremost, Mexico is very close to you!

Now, I know those picturesque places on Instagram, like the Maldives, are gorgeous eye candy. However, do you have any idea how far away the Maldives Islands are?!

I’m going to tell you!

Depending on where you’re coming from in the U.S. you’re looking at 20-30 hours of air time — that’s air time, meaning not including how much time you’re sitting bored in an airport during your layovers! Also, you will have at least one layover… and you’ll likely have layovers (plural).

Again, depending on where you’re traveling from, plan on taking 2-4 flights to get to the Maldives.

If it seems I’m picking on the Maldives, plan for a similar travel itinerary to other popular destinations like Bali, Thailand, Dubai, Morocco, Cappadocia, Croatia, etc.

🧜‍♀️💦 Side note: There is a gorgeous destination in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula called BacalarIt is home to one of the largest freshwater lagoons on Earth, with incredibly crystal clear blue waters that have earned Bacalar its nickname, the Maldives of Mexico!

 

Check out some of my Bacalar solo travel photos 👇
Mexico Being Close Actually Lengthens Your Trip

Going back to the original point of proximity: Mexico being so close, in essence, extends your vacation time.

How so? 

Simple: You’re not losing time to traveling, so you have more time to you know, actually travel. Most travelers are on a limited time schedule, so less times in airports & on planes, means more time traveling in your destination!

Only taking one flight also means less chance of the airlines losing your luggage! That is a worst case scenario, of course, but it does happen to an astounding 25 million pieces of luggage each year!

Close Proximity to the U.S. Means… Direct Flights!

Since Mexico is so close, there are multiple daily direct flights from pretty much every U.S. city into Mexico City & Cancun. From Cancun, you have access to the entire Yucatan Peninsula (Tulum, Merida, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Valladolid, Chichen Itza & other Mayan sites, cenotes, cenotes & more cenotes, etc.).

You can also find convenient direct flights into Mexico’s other big cities, like Querétaro & Guadalajara.

Querétaro is an amazing colonial city that ranks among the country’s safest, with easy access to other destinations like Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende. Guadalajara, also one of the country’s safer places to visit & a top foodie destination.

 

You Don’t Need A Visa

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Mexico gives all visitors a Free 6-month visa!

Not only is Mexico close to the U.S., but you can just jump on a plane & go with almost no plan. 

How’s this travel magic possible?

Easy: You don’t need to get any type of visa or clearance before getting to the country. That’s right, when you go through Customs/Immigration at the airport, cruise port, or land border in Mexico, you’ll receive your FMM 180-Day Tourist Visa. There is no charge for your FMM.

This visa is a piece of paper that has your arrival date stamped on it. Make sure you hold on to it throughout your stay in Mexico, because you’re required to give it back as you’re leaving the country.

Countries you will need a visa to visit

Now, the American passport comes with a hefty amount of privilege, and there are many countries you won’t need one for.

However, there are many popular destinations you’ll need one for. These include Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Jordan (Petra), Maldives, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey (Cappadocia), Vietnam & more.

There are other countries, including Indonesia (Bali) & Thailand, that do require a visa if you’re staying past 30 days.

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You Make Money With the Exchange Rate

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You basically make money when you travel to Mexico!

Of course, this is kind of a joke. However, the exchange rate is very much in your favor. This number will fluctuate, but at the time I’m writing this (July 2020), the exchange is $1 to $22.44 pesos. 

Meaning this: For every $1 you exchange, you receive $22.44 pesos.

To give some perspective, the current exchange rate to European currency is $1 to €0.89 (euros/most of Europe) & $1 to £0.79 (pounds/UK/London). 

What do all these numbers mean?

Basically you lose 10%-20% of your money simply by making the exchange when you visit Europe. In Mexico, you essentially “make” money by just exchanging dollars for pesos.

Accommodations also tend to be less expensive than Europe as well.

Throughout my 2+ years of solo travel in Mexico, I never had to stay in a hostel once. Now, I’m not knocking hostels… they are just not my travel style. Also, as someone who did most of that traveling between ages 36-38, I was basically ancient in hostel years!

Book your solo Mexico trip Airbnb now!

 

Mexico Has Many “Plan B” Travel Options

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Mexico is a huge country: It’s really several countries in one!

Real Talk: I love solo travel. In my heart of hearts, I believe all women should do it at least once. However, I also believe the place you select for your first solo trip might end up being the wrong place for you.

For a first time solo trip, I really recommend having a Plan B in the event that you’re not feelin’ the location you selected. I further recommend you have some idea about your Plan B before arriving in Mexico. 

💡FREE DOWNLOAD: Breakthrough Solo Travel Fear With These 6 Powerful Tips

Mexico, being a giant country, gives a lot of opportunity for convenient Plan B exit strategies!

You know how the East Coast & West Coast of the U.S. could almost be different countries entirely? Or how visiting New Orleans & visiting Wyoming are two very different American travel experiences — Mexico is just like that.

I’ve only been to half the states in Mexico, and I feel like I’ve traveled to at least three very distinct countries!

Meaning this:

You can leave one part of Mexico for another, and feel like you’ve changed countries.

For example, if you picked Mexico City as your first time solo travel destination, and it was the wrong choice for you, know that you have a ton of inexpensive flight & bus travel options!

Check out some of my Mexico solo travel photos 👇

Mexico’s inter-country transportation system

A Mexico Plan B exit strategy is convenient because you’re staying in Mexico & retaining all of the previously-mentioned perks. These include the amazing monetary exchange rate & not needing to get or pay for another country’s visa.

In addition to renting a car, Mexico’s inter-country flight travel is very inexpensive, and inter-country bus travel, even less so. If you’re in a big city, like Mexico City, you can often book a $50-75 flight to one of Mexico’s 100 or so other airports, or $25-50 bus ride to almost any other part of the country.

Some of Mexico’s low-cost national carriers include Interjet, AeroMexico, Volaris & VivaAerobus. For busses, the country’s largest companies with luxury/first class seating options are ADOPrimera Plus & ETN.

 

Your Phone (Likely) Works in Mexico

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You’ll (likely) have Free data, calls & texting!

Most of the U.S.’s large cell phone companies include free Mexico & Canada service with many service plans. Since these are the two most-visited countries for Americans, this makes sense.

Of course, this does depend on your cell company and your plan, so double check with them. However, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile & Verizon do usually offer complimentary Mexico service on their contract service plans.

Uninterrupted phone service in Mexico also means having your data plan, so you can check Google Maps off-WiFi & call an Uber from anywhere. It also means, connecting via phone & text with everyone back home, using the info you already have stored in your phone.

Check out some of my Mexico solo travel photos 👇

If not, don’t worry; you do have other options!

First, you can request your carrier turn international service on. Just give them a call, make sure the rates are reasonable, and they will activate it for your travel dates immediately. This is the most convenient option, but will usually cost more than a SIM card.

Which brings us to your second option: buying a SIM card in Mexico.

You will need to have an unlocked phone to use this SIM card. Nowadays, most phones come unlocked. If yours isn’t, just call your phone company & in most cases, it will be as simple as them clicking a button to unlock it.

Purchasing a SIM in Mexico is very easy!

Nearly all airports have kiosks & electronics shops near flight arrival gates where you can purchase a SIM card. Mexico’s equivalent of 7-Eleven, called OXXO, also sells SIM cards. You’ll generally find an OXXO every few blocks throughout Mexico. (Seriously, Mexico loves their OXXOs!)

Once you buy your SIM card, you’ll have to swap it out with your current SIM for your phone to work in Mexico.

You will have a Mexican phone number with the new SIM, but as soon as you put your original one back, you’ll have your U.S. number again.

One final note: Make sure to keep your original SIM card in a secure place! They are tiny & get lost easily.

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Is Mexico Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

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Best First Time Solo Travel Destinations!

Let’s Talk Mexico Solo Travel Safety

Even if you’ve never been to Mexico, I’m sure even you can agree the top question on everyone’s mind is some variation of:

“Is Mexico safe for travel?”

This is by farrrr the # 1 question I’ve been asked since beginning my Mexico solo travel journey back in April 2018!

My short answer to “Is Mexico dangerous?” is this:

No(t any more dangerous than most travel destinations) 👀 See what I did there?!

READ ON ✈️🇲🇽 Mexico Solo Travel: How to be Safe & Crush It

In all seriousness, this answer to “Is Mexico safe?” is actually unanswerable. What I can say, is that from my experience as a solo female traveler in Mexico for 2+ years, it has not been dangerous for me.

I believe Mexico has been safe for me because I took some general travel safety measures, which are outlined below. I also opted for Uber over public transportation, avoided unnecessary risks (while still having fun!), always listened to my intuition, learned some Spanish & more.

Check out some of my Mexico solo travel photos 👇

General Female Travel Safety Tips

Worthwhile Mexico solo travel safety measures to take at all times:
  1. Use a cross body bag instead of a shoulder bag. Take this one step further by keeping it tucked under your arm at your side or on your chest, instead of on your back.
  2. Don’t ever put your phone in your back pocket!
  3. Take your purse or backpack into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe neighbor to watch it. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  4. Don’t pull your phone out in a giant crowd and/or if the vibe feels sketchy. Always listen & follow your intuition; it is always right when it feels a sketchy vibe!
  5. If the vibe feels sketchy, duck into a cafe, buy something small, and wait a bit until you feel better about your surroundings.
  6. Don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry. Side Note: Mexicans are relatively modest dressers.
  7. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  8. Double check to make sure you have your “PKW” (or, Phone, Keys, Wallet) whenever you’re leaving one place to go to the next… I borrowed PKW from an episode of Broad City! I miss that show ❤️
Register With the U.S. STEP Program

What is the STEP Program? You may be wondering…

STEP stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program & basically lets the U.S. government know where you’re going to be. This free service lets U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico — and there are many!

After registering, the U.S. Embassy can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, or even a family emergency. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in an emergency.

📝 ENROLL YOUR TRIP WITH STEP: Click here to start the process!

Travel Insurance: For Extra Piece of Mind

If you want to put your mind at ease once & for all, I can’t recommend travel insurance enough! World Nomads is one of the most well reputed & used companies in the world for travel insurance.

Don’t take any chances with your health & belongings while overseas. Policies cover a range of circumstances, including medical & 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!

 

Bonus Tip: Learn Some Spanish

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Every Mexico Traveler Should Know the Basics

I personally experienced a huge shift in my solo female traveler confidence when I started to learn Spanish.

It is commonly known among travelers that you get more respect & leeway from locals when you at least try to speak their language. They especially appreciate when you make an effort to know the everyday basics & casual niceties.

Basically: Knowing a little Spanish will go a long way!

Quite honestly, many Mexicans speak (at least) some English. This is especially true of workers in the service industry, and also of people who live in big & bigger cities.

However, it is definitely seen as a sign of respect when you know some Spanish. By some, we’re talking about 30 or so words/phrases, which you can learn over a few weeks on the free Duolingo app.

Your FREE basic Spanish list!

If learning Spanish just isn’t in the cards for you, #NoJudgement.

In fact, here’s a pretty infographic you can pin on Pinterest for later, and also save to your phone as an image, so you can access it even if you’re off-WiFi.

TravelMexicoSolo-LearnSpanish-SpanishBasics

Considering Mexico as a first time solo travel destination?

Let’s chat in the comments! Ask me anything that wasn’t covered in the blog so I can help you decide if Mexico’s right for you.

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¡Hola Chicas!

👋I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor, who ditched the office for the world! I have been a solo female traveler in Mexico for over 2 years, and now I want to pass my experience + expertise on to you!

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