Mexico City Travel & Tips
The information below will help in your planning and packing for your visit to what was formerly known as Distrito Federal (el DF). There has been a recent constitutional and branding change to Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX) which you will see throughout the City.
WHAT TO WEAR
Local weather in June is typically warm and mild by day with rain in the evening. Daytime tends to be sunny and 70-80 degrees, but evenings can be cooler with heavy rain (50-60 degrees). Plan to dress in layers, from t-shirts to sweater or light rain jacket. We will be walking a lot, so be sure to bring very comfortable shoes and rain boots are recommended. Mexico City is somewhat conservative and you won't see many people in shorts or flip flops, especially on public transportation. It’s also helpful to bring a bag to carry around the City for your extra layers, umbrella, water, etc. (preferably not flashy, easy to carry and with closures)
BEFORE YOU GO
Call your Bank
Let your bank know that you are traveling to Mexico and will be accessing your account. If you don’t do this, most banks will block your card if you haven’t given a travel warning and you won’t be able to withdraw money or use your debit card. Same for credit cards. Also ask if there is a specific bank to use with lower or no international fees. We advise taking out cash from an ATM when you arrive. US dollars are not accepted for the most part. There are places to exchange, but you will get the best rate from an ATM.
Arrange Cell/Data Service
Talk to your cell service provider and understand international roaming charges. Some people choose to turn off all cellular data so as not to be billed high fees. In other cases there are easy add-on plans for full service in Mexico for a minimal extra fee. You will find WiFi service readily available in most places around the City. There is also the option to get a local SIM card if your phone is unlocked.
Download Whats App
If you don’t use it, you might want to download it and have your most important people do the same (family/partners/friends). This is a messaging app available with WiFi access that doesn’t charge for international texting and best way to be in touch. iMessage also works on WiFi for free messaging between iphones, but not used as frequently by locals.
If you don’t have it already, we recommend that you download and set up an account on the app Uber as an easy and safe way to call a car if you are on your own, or out at night. Payment is connected to a debit/credit card so you don’t have to deal with cash. Use this code for free credits after set up:5ntb*
On the Flight
You will be given an immigration form and customs form to complete before arriving. It will ask for your passport number and an address where you are staying.
At the Airport
First you will go through Immigration (look for the “extranjeros” line unless you have Mexican citizenship) to officially enter the country, say you are a tourist (turista), get your passport stamped. You will be handed back a white part of your form (FMM) that has been stamped. DO NOT LOSE THIS. It is your tourist visa and you must have it for your return flight or pay a fee and delay boarding.
Next, you will go to baggage claim to get any checked bags and give your form to a Customs Officer.You may be asked to then place your bags in a scanner to be x-rayed or for bags to be searched at random. (There are no longer red and green lights that determine searches.) When you exit baggage claim, Tanya & Leslie will be meeting you on the other side of the glass doors. We will ride together to your hotel. Expect about a 30 minute ride.
IN THE CITY
Mexico City is very high up - 7,943 ft! It may take time to adjust. Take it slow and stay hydrated! Some people suddenly experience shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms resembling flu. Recommendations: Acclimatize and take it easy. Spend your first day at high altitudes going slow. Avoid even moderate exercise until you get accustomed to the new heights. Do not smoke and avoid drinking alcohol. Smoking and alcohol consumption increase the risk of dehydration and decreased respiration rate during sleep and can worsen symptoms of altitude sickness. Drink as much extra water as you can to remain properly hydrated, at least three to four quarts. Your urine should be clear and copious. Avoid alcoholic beverages, eat foods that are high in carbohydrates. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for headaches.
Do NOT drink water from the tap. All restaurants will only serve you filtered or bottled water and ice. No one locally drinks sink water. We will also have water along with us in our van during the day. Bringing water bottles with you saves plastic, however there are limited places to fill them up. We also recommend “sueros” an electrolyte drink available at pharmacies. Good for staying hydrated and excellent for hangovers.
Mexican Pesos. The current exchange rate is currently about 19 pesos to 1 US Dollar ($200 pesos = approx $10 USD). There are several ATMs within blocks of where you are staying. Unlike beach resort towns and the border region, you may not use US Dollars, so don’t bother bringing them. We advise against exchanging money at the airport because of bad exchange rates. The best way to get pesos it to withdraw directly from an ATM once you arrive. We can walk you to an ATM. Depending on your bank you may receive a foreign withdrawal fee and an ATM Fee. You may use Visa/Mastercard Credit and Debit cards at most larger establishments. Smaller places are usually cash only. Small bills (100 pesos or less) are appreciated in most places. Do not flash your cash while walking on the street or at the ATM and don’t carry large amounts with you.
Your hotel provides a free breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, juice, coffee, cereal and a hot main dish each day. Breakfast is served from 8 am -11 am. You are also close to bakeries, juice stands, and morning street food delicacies. Lunches will be incorporated into our itinerary and for the most part per-ordered and served family style. Dinners will be on your own. Your neighborhood, Roma Norte is the center of Mexico’s culinary scene, with top rated restaurants, trendy eateries, international options and always, tacos!
We will meet you at the airport and transport the whole group to your hotel. You will also be taken as a group to your departure flight. During most of our days we will be using a shuttle van to get around. We will find times to walk through neighborhoods when we can. You will be on your own in the evenings. Your colonia is very walkable with everything you may need within blocks of your hotel. We recommend taking Uber if you are venturing out, and always letting someone know where you are going. Please do not take street taxis. If it is necessary to take a taxi, use only sitios (taxi stands) with approved taxis.