7 Tips to Plan Your Winter Trip in Mexico
Thinking about a winter vacation or long-term stay in Mexico? Beautiful beaches, delicious food, a diverse culture, and welcoming people, make it the perfect place to escape cold weather and relax in the sun.
And don't forget the temperature. Mexico's winter season runs from December through February, and the average temperature during this time is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
When planning your winter getaway in Mexico, there are a few things you want to do before heading out. Follow these seven tips to make most of your trip and get to your destination with ease.
Get Your Documents in Order
Make sure you have all the documents necessary to enter and exit Mexico with ease. These documents may also be required during your travels in the interior of Mexico.
If you are a citizen of the United States or Canada, older than age 14, will need a valid passport. Not only will you be asked for a passport when entering and exiting Mexico, it will likely be requested by your hotel or resort, when exchanging currency, and on other occasions.
- A birth certificate is accepted for children under 15 when crossing back into the U.S. by car (vehicle).
- If you are flying into Mexico, everyone in your party, including infants, must have a valid passport.
- It's a good idea to store a picture of your passport on your phone. When out and about, carry a photocopy of your passport, and keep the physical copy locked up in your room.
People often call this a "tourist visa," but it's not really a visa. It's a document that allows you to vacation in Mexico for up to 180 days.
- You will need an FMM for everyone in your party.
- If driving into Mexico, you can purchase an FMM online or immediately after you cross the border. Either way you MUST STOP at Immigration to get your FMM stamped. You will need a copy of your receipt to do this
- When flying, the cost of your FMM is included in the price of your flight. The FMM will be handed out by your airline before you reach your Mexico destination unless you arrive at an airport that issues the new electronic FMMs.
NOTE: Visitors who arrive at the airports listed below will have their passports scanned and then stamped by immigration, along with an expiration date. They will not require an FMM form or card.
- Mexico City
- Cancun, Quintana Roo
- Guadalajara, Jalisco
- La Paz, Baja California Sur
- Loreto, Baja California Sur
- Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
- Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
- FMMs are usually good for up to six months, however, some immigration officials have given some air travelers only enough time as they can prove they will be in Mexico. Have your travel documents (hotel confirmation, VRBO receipt, etc.) ready in case this happens to you. If you are given a 180 day stay and plan on taking multiple trips into the country, you can use the same FMM each time.
Along with your passport, we advise you have another form of picture ID (like a driver's license), in case you somehow lose your passport. Also, your U.S. or Canadian driver's license is required (in lieu of an international driver's license) when driving in Mexico.
Make sure you have all the necessary insurance for your winter escapade in Mexico. Mexpro can help you get all your Mexico insurance needs met in one place.
If you're driving into Mexico, you must have vehicle insurance issued by a Mexican carrier. This includes Class A, B, or C RVs. Your U.S. or Canadian auto liability insurance is not valid in Mexico. Your auto insurance must also meet the minimum liability limits required by Mexico law. All Mexpro policies provide between $300,000 and $500,000 USD in liability coverage. And it only takes a few minutes to get a quote, buy, and print your policy.
If you are towing a travel trailer, fifth wheel, boats, ATV, jet skis, etc. your towed unit has liability coverage, standard, on all Mexpro vehicle policies. Physical damage is available while in tow, when listed on your vehicle policy. If you want physical damage and theft after decoupling from your tow vehicle, you will need to get a separate policy for each towed vehicle. Get more details on our website.
Travel insurance is always a good idea when vacationing outside of your home country. Mexpro offers several travel insurance options, including: emergency medical expense coverage, trip cancellation/interruption coverage to insure your trip investment, and emergency medical evacuation. Mexpro's travel insurance checks all the boxes, providing you a true safety net against unforeseen circumstances and protection if the unexpected happens.
Choose Your Destination
Once you have your documents in order, the next step is to choose a destination. There are many great places to spend the winter in Mexico, so take some time to research your options and decide where you would like to go. Each Mexican state has its own climate and cultural experiences to offer visitors. Below are some ideas for you.
Baja California is a peninsula on the western side of Mexico. It is divided into two Mexican states: Baja California Norte (BCN) and Baja California Sur (BCS).
The peninsula is like a finger that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez, which means there are tons of incredible beaches and plenty of activities. Depending on where you go, you can be on a busy beach with lots to do or a quiet beach with few people. And a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) is not required. This all makes "The Baja" one of the more popular destinations for U.S. and Canadian citizen expats, snowbirds, and vacationers.
In Baja California Norte, popular spots include the vibrant border city of Tijuana, the museums and seafood of Ensenada, the Guadalupe Wine Valley, and artsy Rosarito with its movie star history.
West Coast of Mainland Mexico
The most popular destinations on Mexico's west coast include Puerto Vallarta, Zihuantanejo, and Acapulco. These cities, on the Pacific Ocean, have all the beachy activities along with incredible food.
East Coast of Mexico
The east coast of Mexico is well-known for its white sandy beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving, cenote explorations (large caverns with crystal waters), and ancient native ruins.
Some of the most popular destinations on the east coast are Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel. These towns are all located in the Quintana Roo state in southeastern Mexico.
Interior of Mexico
The interior of Mexico is a beautiful and diverse place. One of the most popular destinations is the city of San Miguel de Allende, which is known for its colonial architecture, art, and charming streets. The city of Oaxaca is known for its stunningly colorful buildings and traditional food. Tequila is known for its namesake, Taxco is the silver capital of Mexico, and Lake Chapala is Mexico's largest freshwater lake.
In addition, the interior of Mexico is home to many beautiful national parks, including the Copper Canyon National Park and Sumidero Canyon National Park. These parks offer stunning landscapes.
The interior areas of Mexico have something for everyone, but there are no beaches, and the temperatures can vary dramatically.
Plan Your Itinerary
Once you have chosen a destination, you can start planning activities and packing for your trip. Here are a few tips for planning your trip:
Decide what you'd like to see.
Are you interested in history and culture, or do you prefer beaches and relaxation? Tailor your trip to fit your interests.
Plan your route.
There's no need to stick to one destination - it's often more fun to explore different areas. Be sure to research transportation options and map out your route.
If you are driving:
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition and that you have all the necessary supplies for the trip.
- If you're going on a multi-day trip, know where you'll be staying.
- Make sure you plan only to drive during the day on toll roads or federal highways.
What to Pack
Different parts of the country experience different weather conditions. Temperatures can vary widely even within a single day. The coastal areas tend to be warmer and drier than the interior, and the highlands can be quite chilly.
So, when packing, it's best to include a variety of clothes that will allow you to dress comfortably in different settings. A few essentials to pack include sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and insect repellent. If you plan on hiking or exploring off the beaten path, bring a good pair of shoes, a backpack, and water bottle.
Learn Some Basic Spanish
Before traveling to Mexico, it is helpful to learn some basic Spanish phrases. This will make it easier to communicate with people when you arrive in Mexico.
- If you plan on traveling to Mexico frequently or staying there for extended periods, you might benefit from taking a course in a classroom setting, allowing you to practice with other students.
- There are many online resources available to help you learn basic Spanish. Apps like Duolingo, FluentU, and Rosetta Stone can help you improve your Spanish language skills.
- Download Google Translate. This service instantly translates words and phrases between English and Spanish. It doesn't always provide the best translation, but it's close enough to be understood. And it's free!
Exchange Money Before You Go
It is always a good idea to exchange money before traveling to another country. This way, you will have local currency when you arrive and won't have to worry about finding an ATM or currency exchange office right away.
There are several ways to exchange money while in Mexico, including at banks and currency exchanges. Be sure to shop around for the best exchange rate, and avoid exchanging money at airports or tourist areas, as the rates tend to be much higher. It is also a good idea to have some smaller bills on hand, as many smaller establishments in Mexico do not accept American currency.
If you're looking for a winter escape, Mexico is worth considering. There are plenty of activities and attractions to keep you entertained and with a bit of preparation, you can rest assured that you'll have a wonderful time in one of the most beautiful and varied places on earth.