Our Suggestion To Help You Blend With Our Culture When Visiting Mexico
Traveling to Mexico?
Here are few basic and helpful tips to help enhance your experience when visiting Mexico
by Adriana Legreid
It is helpful to learn about the people and the culture you are visiting before you travel. Mexican people are warm and polite, but there are unique customs and an etiquette particular to our country that you want to know before packing your suitcase.
Here are 7 tips you need to know before your next trip to Mexico that will help you blend in.
1. Things move at a slower pace
Things in Mexico, especially in sleepy beach towns, move at a slower pace. It is crucial to your enjoyment that you know and accept this fact. Things will move slower at restaurants and at businesses. It has nothing to do with the quality of the establishment or their customer service, but it is reflective of the culture.
Waitstaff will not automatically bring you the bill, why would they? After all you are in Mexico and here to enjoy your vacation. “Sobre mesa” is the time after the meal when groups will enjoy conversation and drinks; your waiter is probably expecting you to stay a while (and have a few more drinks!). If you are in a hurry just let them know as soon as you get seated and they will help you get to your next activity on time!
2. Be Friendly!
We are warm and friendly people. We will come into your personal space and greet you with a hug or a kiss when we meet, even if it is the first time. If this makes you uncomfortable, offer a handshake when being introduced or meeting people (and even then you might still get a hug), but be ready to feel the love!
3. Tip the appropriate amount
“La propina” or tip is commonplace throughout Mexico. Tourist destinations are cash driven economies, and it is recommended that you tip in cash rather than as part of your credit card transaction if is possible.
Recommended tipping amounts:
Hotel & Resort Tipping
It is a good idea to leave a daily tip if you are staying more than one night at a hotel. Anything between $1-$5US (equivalent in pesos) is a great tip.
Bell Staff, Valet, Other: Your safest bet is $100-200 pesos for these types of interactions, which is less than $5-10US.
Bartender: $1-2 dollars per drink.
Waitstaff: Double check your bill before you tip; if you have a large party, a tip might already be included. For good service, 10-15% of the total bill is appropriate.
4. Barter when appropriate
It is fun and can be exhilarating to barter with street vendors. However, what you need to consider when traveling in Mexico is that vendors are not making a lot of money (in most circumstances) and you might be eating into their profits. Rule of thumb is not to barter with food vendors whose margins are already tight. Storefronts or souvenir shops can provide discounts based on the amount you are purchasing. Artisan or farmers markets (tianguis) are the ideal places for negotiation and the most appropriate place for bartering.
5. Learn some Spanish
You do not need to be fluent in Spanish to travel to Mexico or to enjoy your vacation. I recommend you learn a couple of phrases and words that will show that you put in the effort to get to know the culture you are visiting. In all heavily tourist destinations, staff will know English and management might even know French or another language. No need to worry, you will be able to get your message across regardless of your native language. If you do want to go the extra mile, here are some key words/phrases that can help you during your visit:
Como te llamas: What is your name?
Por favor: Please
Gracias: Thank you
Disculpa: Excuse me
La cuenta por favor: The check, please.
6. We have Churches, lots of them. Be respectful when you enter them
Some of the most beautiful and historic architectural buildings in Mexico are our churches. Heavily influenced by our Spanish heritage and the native cultures, churches offer a unique view into Mexican history. However, don't forget that these are active houses of worship and represent a deeply sacred part of Mexican culture. Enter quietly and be respectful of those around you. Do not be too loud, and if you wish to take pictures, make sure you are not using flash. If you are coming from the beach, be sure to cover up - displaying too much skin might be seen as a sign of disrespect!
7. Night out on the town!
Going out at night is seen as an opportunity to dress up in Mexico. You might want to do some research on the places you will be visiting and inquire on the dress code of these venues. Casual and beach bars do not expect you to dress up or be fancy, casual attire is adequate. On the other hand, up-scale restaurants and bars/night clubs will expect you to dress up - some will even refuse service if they do not adhere to their dress code. Beyond just following these suggestions, dressing accordingly will make you feel more comfortable in your surroundings, which in some cases will translate to more attentive service.
Extra Tip: Safety First
All these recommendations go out the window if you feel unsafe; be mindful of your surroundings, your drinks, and your property. If you are going out at night with a group, stay together and make sure everyone makes it back safely. Don't leave friends or family behind by themselves. Be sure to use certified means of transportation, never board an unmarked cab or taxi. Uber/Didi do not display any signage on their vehicles, be sure to verify the license plate, and the identity of the driver. We might be warm and friendly people, but if at any point you don't feel comfortable with your surroundings, no need for politeness, walk away!)
Mexico loves to be a host to its guests; we will be sharing more tips to make your experience in Mexico more meaningful and to help you be able to relate to our culture.