how to not get sick in mexico

How to NOT Get Sick in Mexico: 10 Tips You Need [2022]

Looking for ways to NOT get sick in Mexico?

You’ve come to the right guide, because I’ve been living in Mexico for several years now — and I’ve both been sick myself, and witnessed plenty of others who have been sick in Mexico. As everyone wants to know how to not get sick in Mexico, this article will guide you as best as possible.

water bottles

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Montezuma’s Revenge is the most common Mexico vacation sickness. However, the tips in this article cover everything you need to know to avoid Mexico water sickness, food poisoning in Mexico, and all the other ways to get sick in Mexico that most travelers aren’t even thinking about.

By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert in how to avoid getting sick in Mexico, so you can have an amazing trip. Ready to get all 10 Tips on How to NOT Get Sick in Mexico? Let’s jump in with the #1 question asked regarding not getting sick in Mexico — Can you drink the water in Mexico?


1. DON’T: Drink the Water in Mexico

What is Montezuma’s Revenge?

Known as Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico, the medical name for this sickness is Traveler’s Diarrhea, or TD for short.

Not exclusive to Mexico, TD can happen to any traveler in any country. In fact, TD in India is called Delhi Belly (a play on words using the Indian city of Dheli, pronounced “deli”). In short, be cautious in Mexico, but know food- and water-borne illnesses occur everywhere.

Wondering, How long does Montezuma’s Revenge last? It will vary from person to person, so there’s no real answer; some people have it for one day, and some, for 10 days.


Mexico Water FAQ

woman holding water bottle with filter
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• Can You drink the water in mexico?

After Is Mexico safe?, the #2 most asked Mexico travel question seems to be, Can you drink the water in Mexico? For travelers going to a specific place, like Cancun, you might be wondering, Can you drink the water in Cancun?

Here’s the answer for all Mexico travelers: NO You can’t drink the water in Mexico straight from the tap — not in Cancun, not in Mexico City, not in Tulum, not in Cabo San Lucas, not in Playa dedl Carmen, and not anywhere else.

Tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink for anyone, not locals and not visitors; in short, no one drinks straight tap water in Mexico. To make Mexico water safe to drink, you’d have to boil it or use a filterable water bottle like the Water-To-Go Bottle, which we’ll get to in Tip #2.

As not even Mexico locals drink the tap water, it’s pretty easy to avoid unfiltered water while traveling to Mexico. Since locals don’t want to get sick just as much as you don’t, there will be no instance when someone will be serving or offering tap water.

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• what to do if you get sick from water in mexico

The short answer: Go see a doctor immediately — especially if you’re sick in Mexico vomiting or have diarrhea, which can both lead to dehydration. In Tip #6, you’ll learn about all the inexpensive walk in clinics found in pharmacies all over Mexico, where you can see a doctor fast and cheap.

• Why does water in Mexico make you sick?

Wondering, Why do you get sick in Mexico? Let’s address this, so you know exactly why Mexico water is unsafe to drink.

In short, the bacteria in Mexico water (as well as other microscopic things invisible to the naked eye like protozoa, viruses and toxins, etc.) make Mexico water unsafe to consume. In recent years, water filtration standards have improved, but Mexico water is still not safe enough.

• Should I keep my mouth closed in the shower in mexico?

This comes from an episode of Sex & the City where Charlotte opens her mouth in the shower by accident, swallows a bit of water, and gets really sick in Mexico. While you should not drink shower water, if some splashes on your mouth, you’ll likely be fine.

Why do people get sick in Mexico from food?

Traveler’s Diarrhea, or TD, happens because your personal microbiome (natural gut bacteria) isn’t able to handle whatever’s in the food and water in the country you’ve traveled to. This can affect any traveler in any country or even city where you’re not accustomed to the local food and water.


Some people will use bottled or purified water to brush their teeth. While this may or may not prevent getting sick in Mexico, you can always just avoid wetting the toothbrush before you brush your teeth, which should be enough of a preventative measure.

Now, to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth, you’ll want to use bottled or filtered water.

• Is it safe TO DRINK ice in Mexico? 

You can relax and enjoy your trip now that you know the ice in Mexican drinks is safe!

As mentioned, locals don’t drink the tap water, and they don’t make ice cubes with it either. While boiling water does kill off bacteria, freezing it does not. Though plenty of other articles will tell you to avoid ice in your drink, there’s no reason to think anyone’s making ice with tap water.

Now, if you want to avoid ice for your own peace of mind, then go ahead. If you really want peace of mind, however, keep reminding yourself that locals would also get sick from that ice, so it’s more than likely no one’s making unsafe ice.


2. DO: Get a Filterable Water Bottle

water bottles

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Now that you know you should avoid tap water to avoid a Mexico stomach bug, just what do you drink?! The answer is, bottled water, which is readily available everywhere. However, there are two things to consider about bottled water in Mexico:

  1. Not all bottled and filtered water is created equal, and of exceptional quality.
  2. Single use plastics from disposable water bottles are horrible for the environment.

So what can you do?

Enter the Water-To-Go Bottle, a refillable water bottle with a built in filter — and your secret weapons for how to avoid Mexico sickness during travel. As refillable bottles, they also ensure you’re practicing responsible, sustainable travel in Mexico by avoiding single-use plastics.

What is Water-to-Go?

The company’s water purification technology, originally developed for NASA, combines three different technologies in one water purification filter that eliminates up to 99.9999% of water contaminants. Each filter is able to replace up to 400 single-use plastic water bottles 🌍

what is in the water in mexico that makes you sick?

To answer the pressing Why does water in Mexico make you sick? question, the culprits can be everything from the bacteria, protozoa, viruses, toxins and parasites. In short, how to avoid getting a parasite in Mexico can come down to something as simple as using a filterable water bottle, or not.

According to the Water-To-Go site, the filters in their straws remove 99.999999% of that out. Hopefully you now see that if there’s one thing you’ll want to pack for Mexico — for your health and to not waste plastic water bottles — it’s a Water-To-Go Bottle.

♻️ Mexico Travel Tip: You don’t have to order bottled water in restaurants. You can order a cup of water and they’ll serve you FREE filtered water from the garrafón (five-gallon water cooler jug). As not all filtered water is created equal, you’ll then pour that cup of water into your filterable bottle.


3. DON’T: Avoid Mexico Street Food Altogether

If you go to Mexico and don’t eat street tacosYou didn’t really go to Mexico! This country has a serious street food culture, and it would be a shame to miss out on enjoying as much of the Mexico street food as you can. 

In Tip #4 you’ll learn what to look for in choosing the right street food stand. For now, just keep in mind that getting food poisoning in Mexico is a bit of the luck (or unluck) of the draw. Don’t assume just because food is cooked on the street and not in a building, that it’s automatically bad or unsafe to eat.

In my years living in Mexico, I’ve seen people who only eat in high end restaurants and avoid salads get Montezuma’s Revenge, Mexico diarrhea, and everything else that’s not cute. I have also seen people who exclusively eat street food and 25¢ tacos have the trip of their lives.

The reality is that leaving your home country to visit another is a bit of a risk to your stomach, as you’re not acclimated to what’s in that country’s food and water. To some extent, all food and water have bacteria, but your body knows how to handle the ones you come in contact with often.

Though millions of people visit Mexico each year, only a small fraction got sick in Mexico, and most people do eat the delicious street food. For tips on which street food stands and taquerias (taco shops) to eat at, head to the next tip.

How to Prepare Your Stomach for Mexico

One of the best ways to prepare for Mexico travel is to prep your immune system and strengthen your gut health. Some common supplements include probiotics, Vitamin C, echinacea, zinc, elderberry, and other immune boosters.

👩‍⚕️ Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor! Please take this as friendly advice; not medical advice. After a quick Google search, you’ll notice these are some of the more universally-recommended remedies.


4. DO: Choose the Right Street Food

Wondering what to NOT eat in Mexico? Sadly, there are no hard and fast rules.

While you will see other articles telling you that avoiding street food stands and salads is a surefire way of how to avoid food poisoning in Mexico — this simply isn’t factual. If it were, Mexico wouldn’t be one of the street food capitals of the world, and no one would be eating salads.

As there’s simply no way to know if someone’s going to get sick in Mexico or not, here are 5 Tips on picking the best street food in Mexico. These aren’t an exact science, but they’re a good line of defense to help ensure you’re one of the ones NOT getting sick in Mexico.

  1. Look for long lines: Long lines mean a good reputation for both their food, and their hygiene.
  2. Look for taxi cabs: Cab drivers drive around all day, so they can eat anywhere they want — because of this, they also know where all the delicious, inexpensive, hygienic places are.
  3. Look for two employees: Make sure there are at least two people working, and that the one cooking the food is not the one handling the money.
  4. Look for hand sanitizer: If you don’t see a bottle of hand sanitizer, skip that stand for one that has some.
  5. Look at yourself: Remember that your own hands are one of the dirtiest parts of your body, and you’re about to use those to eat! When possible, wash your hands before eating, and/or use hand sanitizer.

🧴 Mexico Travel Tip: A hand sanitizer holder that clips onto the outside of your purse is ideal. Rather than going inside your purse where you won’t see it, a holder clipped on the outside means you’ll constantly see it — and constantly be reminded to use sanitizer throughout the day.


What foods to avoid in Mexico

There’s no exact formula on how not to get sick in Mexico, but this is a good saying to keep in mind: Hot food should be hot, and Cold food should be cold (told to me by a fellow blogger). Makes sense, right? Still, let’s break it down a little further for clarity on what to eat in Mexico to not get sick.

When you’re ordering a food that’s supposed to be served hot, make sure it’s hot, and not warm. When in doubt at a street food stand, seek out places where they are cooking and serving on the spot. If something looks like it’s been sitting around, skip it.

With cold foods or beverages, you’ll want to use the same rule. If you’re ordering a smoothie or agua fresca (fresh fruit water), make sure it’s cold, not cool. While agua frescas are refreshing, you might want to skip them from a street stand under the midday sun, as they might not be super cold.

🚫 In short, for those wanting to know what things to avoid in Mexico — Avoid street food, smoothies and juices that look like they’ve been sitting around for a while.

Are salads safe in Mexico? 

You’re likely to come across info saying salads are the #1 what not to eat in Mexico food, and if not eating them makes you feel better, then don’t. However, there’s no evidence this is true.

The thinking here is that since raw veggies are usually only run under tap water to clean them in the U.S., and Mexico tap water is not safe, these veggies would now be unsafe since they are cleaned under tap water.

However, in Mexico, produce isn’t just cleaned with water, because you can’t clean anything with not-so-clean water. Rather, many use a vinegar-water mixture, warm soapy water, and even store-bought produce cleaners to clean fruits, veggies and eggs.

If you’re planning to prepare a lot of your own foods, and eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruits, you’ll want to add produce wash to your Mexico packing list.


5. DON’T: Assume Mexico Diarrhea is the Only Sickness

When most travelers think about getting sick in Mexico, they think of pesky stomach bugs and food poisoning Mexico nightmares. In reality, many Mexico travel horror stories often end up being about all the other types of sickness no one prepared for.

Here are three other things to consider to avoid getting sick in Mexico:

Altitude Sickness in Mexico City

Most people don’t know this, but Mexico City is about 1.5-miles above sea level. If you’re not used to high altitudes, you can easily get altitude sickness — which feels like the flu — and can quickly ruin your Mexico vacation.

🇲🇽 Check out Mexico City Altitude Sickness: How to Prevent & Treat It, for a deep dive into this subject.

Many have great success with an Acupressure Band, or an Anti-Nausea Patch. However, others need Anti-Altitude Sickness meds, or homeopathic Liquid Chlorophyll drops.


Dehydration in Mexico’s Heat

If you didn’t already add a Water-To-Go Bottle to your cart, here’s another reason to purchase one. These refillable bottles not only help you prevent getting sick in Mexico from the water, they also help keep you hydrated. 👒 A sun hat also helps to keep you cool, both in cities and on the beach.

Alcohol Poisoning in Mexico

Mexico produces all kinds of yummy adult beverages — from pulque in Mexico City, to mezcal in Oaxaca City, to red wine in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s wine country in Baja California state.

If you’re planning to go hard with booze, bring these hangover cure pills and powders with you and take one before going out. The antioxidants, herbs and homeopathic ingredients make sure you’re not hungover the next day, and missing out on precious travel time.


6. DO: See A Doctor if You’re Sick in Mexico

Friendly Dr. Simi of Farmacia Similares, one of the biggest Mexico pharmacy chains. (Photo: Golden Emporium via Flickr)

Unlike in the U.S., going to the doctor in Mexico is inexpensive and quick. For those wondering What to do when you get sick in Mexico — the answer is go see a doctor ASAP!

If you find yourself sick in Mexico, open Google Maps, find one of the big chain pharmacies near you, and go straight there. These best Mexico farmacias include Farmacia Similares, Farmacia Yza and Farmacia Guadalajara.

Once there, you’ll want to head to their walk-in clinics — which are sometimes called consultorios. Not all farmacias have these clinics, but most do.

Usually within 15 minutes or so, a doctor will see you, assess your symptoms, and since you’re already at a pharmacy, you can get any meds you need right then and there. If you require further medical assistance, the doctor will let you know after the exam.

My Personal Experience With This

As a reference point on how much Mexico doctor visits cost at a consultorio, here’s my most recent experience seeing one of the clinic doctors in Mexico:

I was bit by a spider while in Bacalar, Mexico, which didn’t look so nice but I did feel fine, so I opted for the consultorio over the ER. It took me less than five minutes to see a doctor — and the exam, antibiotic pills and a skin cream for the bite cost just $8USD.

👩‍⚕️ Mexico Travel Tip: If your Spanish isn’t great, download the Google Translate app. With this app, you and the doctor can speak into your phone, and the translation is spoken back to you both.


7. DON’T: Pack the Whole Medicine Cabinet

General medicines are easy to get in Mexico, so you don’t have to pack too many over-the-counter meds. If you need antibiotics or other meds, those tend to be readily available, and less expensive than in the U.S. (though you’ll need a prescription).

You will want to bring anything prescribed that you need, and anything you know will come in handy where you’re going — like Anti-Altitude Sickness Meds in Mexico City, and Anti-Hangover Meds in Cancun, Cabo and Tulum.

3 Tips on How to AVOID Getting Sick in Cancun: Don’t drink too much, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!

If you’re brand-specific, as in you only take Advil, you’ll want to bring your Advil. While there will be headache and pain medications everywhere, you might not always be able to find Advil (or some other specific brand) while you’re traveling Mexico.


8. DO: Come Prepared with These Items

• Stomach Meds

Beyond your prescriptions, consider bringing antidiarrheal medications and stuff for an upset stomach, like Tums or Pepto. While you can buy these at most farmacias, it’s more convenient to have them on hand should you at any time not feel well.

• Tampons

In larger cities, tampons are readily available. However, in smaller, rural areas and off the beaten path Mexico destinations, this isn’t always the case. If you’re partial to a certain brand of tampon, or need a particular size, make sure to pack those.

• menstrual Cup

My travel life (and real life) changed for the better when I switched to a reusable menstrual cup. You can safely leave them in for 12-24 hours, so you’re not scrambling to find clean bathrooms while traveling Mexico to change your tampon or pad. Beyond that, you’ll never buy tampons or pads again!

♻️ Menstrual cups are also good for the planet, as you’re not creating tampon or pad waste. For some, there’s a learning curve to using them, so do practice before your trip.

 • Travel-Sized Pack of Tissues

In pueblos (small towns), rural areas, and gas station and mercado (market) bathrooms, toilet paper is sometimes missing in action. As it’s better to be safe than sorry, carry around a small pack of tissues because they’ll come in handy for many things.

• Hand Sanitizer

This used to be a suggestion, but now feels like a mandatory travel item. To make sure you’re using it throughout the day, get a hand sanitizer pouch that will clip on to the outside of your purse, so you’re constantly seeing it, and constantly using it.


9. DON’T: Spend Your Whole Vacation Worried

As mentioned, getting sick in Mexico is a bit of a crap shoot. It can happen whether or not you’re obsessing over it, so there’s definitely no point to doing so. You now have several tips on how NOT to get sick in Mexico, so make good choices, but also enjoy your Mexico trip to the fullest.

Thanks to Tip #6, you now know what to do if you get sick in Mexico — go to the inexpensive walk-in clinic (consultorio). Ask a passerby or use Google Maps to find the Farmacia Similares, Farmacia Yza or Farmacia Guadalajara closest to you, and head there for quick and inexpensive medical assistance.


10. DO: Wash & Sanitize Your Hands Often

Known to be one of the least-clean parts of the body, remember to keep hand cleanliness in mind at all times. As preventing a Mexico stomach virus and/or Montezuma’s Revenge is clearly on your mind — or you wouldn’t have read this article — remember to wash your hands anytime you’re passing by a sink.

While this may seem like overkill, you really never know when the next opportunity to do so will come, so take advantage of every time the opportunity presents itself. As you won’t always have access to a sink, be sure to pack your Travel Bottle Keychain Holder and hand sanitizer.


Mexico Travel FAQ

Las Grutas Tolantongo natural hot spring pools near Mexico City
Las Grutas de Tolantongo, Mexico — the famous natural pools and hot springs near Mexico City.

Can you travel to Mexico right now?

Yes — Travel between the U.S. and Mexico is open. As you’ll see below, there are virtually no travel restrictions for Americans traveling to Mexico right now. Because of this, many Americans are flocking to Mexico for a respite in these tough times as a coping mechanism of how to fight Covid-19 fatigue.

Do I need a negative Covid test to travel to Mexico?

No — You don’t need to arrive in Mexico with a negative Covid test. However, once you arrive, authorities in the airport will likely take your temperature and not let you enter the country if it’s elevated. After leaving the airport, masks and temperature checks are often required to enter indoor spaces.

Is there a quarantine period in Mexico?

No, you’re not required to quarantine upon arrival in Mexico. It is one of only a handful of countries that allows U.S. travelers in, and/or doesn’t require a quarantine period for visiting Americans.

Do I need a negative Covid test to return to the U.S.?

As of January 26, 2021, you are required to have a negative Covid test to return to the U.S. The negative test results must be dated within three-days of your flight. For now, only an Antigen Test/NAAT Test is required, according to the CDC

To accommodate for this, many airports in Mexico are offering rapid testing, so be sure to check with the airport you’re flying out of. If not, there are clinics throughout Mexico, particularly in the main tourist areas, offering rapid Antigen Tests for about $20; the PCR test is more expensive.


Do Americans need a visa for Mexico?

No — U.S., Canadian and most European passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico. This no-visa-necessary rule is another reason why Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.

When you arrive in Mexico and go through Customs and Immigration, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist card. Though called a “card,” it is really just a small piece of paper — but you need to hold on to it so you can give it back to Immigration when you leave the country.

There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $600 pesos ($30USD) to replace it. You’ll also have some paperwork to fill out at the airport before you can leave the country. In short: Don’t lose your FMM!

💡 Mexico Travel Tip: Keep track of your FMM by storing it in a secure place like this travel wallet, along with all your other important travel documents.


Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?

Yes — On November 8, 2021, the U.S. reopened all borders with Mexico. While it was always legal to fly to Mexico, land borders were shut down for 20 months — however, all borders are now open for business and pleasure travel to Tulum and all Mexico.

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s global travel safety program, Safe Travels, has certified many Mexico travel destinations, including Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, as safe for travel. To qualify for this program, countries must follow rigorous cleaning and hygiene protocols.

You can also check the U.S. State Department and CDC websites for the most up-to-date information.


Is Mexico safe for travel?

Yes — For the majority of travelers, it Mexico is safe. Not sure where to go? Check out 25 Safest Cities in Mexico & Safest Beaches in Mexico.

Longer answer: Safety is a tricky subject because safety is a feeling, not a fact, and no place on Earth is 100% safe. As a large country, Mexico has good and bad parts. Tourism is the country’s biggest industry, and the Mexican government takes measures to make sure the country’s safe for visitors.

register for the STEP Program

While traveling to Mexico, you’ll want to register your trip with the STEP Program, a free travel safety initiative for U.S. citizens. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


If I had a peso for every time someone’s asked me, Is Mexico safe?, I could retire! In all seriousness, the answer to this question is quite complex; but from my experience as a solo female traveler in Mexico — Yes, it has been safe for me, and it is safe for most travelers.

This article, Is Mexico Safe to Travel to Right Now, has useful tips for female travelers doing Mexico solo travel, for a much more in depth look at the complex topic of Mexico solo travel safety. 🎧 Prefer podcasts? Check out Episode 40 of my Mexico Podcast with solo female travel tips.


Do I need Mexico Travel Insurance?

travel insurance for mexico

Legally; no, you don’t need to purchase travel insurance for Mexico. However, after years of travel in Mexico, I will say there is one certainty with travel — Something will go wrong! That’s not meant to scare you, but it is meant to warn you.

Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling. If Mexico travel safety is on your mind, get your free quote below from World Nomads and Safety Wing, two of the biggest names in travel insurance.

  • Safety Wing: Perfect for general travel coverage, and digital nomads who travel for extended periods of time.
  • World Nomads: Perfect for those who want to do adventurous activities while traveling.

Final Thoughts: How to NOT Get Sick in Mexico

Please, please, please don’t come to Mexico and not eat the street food over fear you’ll get sick! Just look around and you’ll see many people eating street food, because it’s such a big part of Mexican culture. 

In fact, Mexicans joke about getting their daily dose of Vitamin T, of which the T stands for tacos, and those tacos more than likely come from a street stand. While their stomachs are more acclimated than yours, maybe go easy — but please don’t avoid street food entirely!

As you now know, no one drinks the water in Mexico, so that fact, plus your new Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters 99.999999% of bacteria, viruses and toxins, covers your water safety. Having a Water-To-Go bottle also helps prevent dehydration — one of the Mexico sicknesses most don’t plan for.

Hopefully you see that there are simple steps you can take to prevent getting sick in Mexico. While there are no guarantees, these 10 tips definitely will come in handy for your Mexico trip.

Mexico Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance? 100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Mexico? No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Mexico? Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Mexico? Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Mexico accommodation? For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb!

🧳 What do I pack for Mexico? Head to the Ultimate Mexico Packing List + FREE Checklist Download to get all the info you need on packing for Mexico.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico? Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.