Water & Food Safety
We will each be responsible for our own bottled water while in Mexico. On Oct 28, Albert and I will pick up several bottles for each person so that you have some right away when you arrive. Then we can ask our host about where to get more or if it is possible to have cases delivered to us. Since Mexico City is a higher altitude and drier climate than many of us are used to, staying hydrated is important to ensure we have a good time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises eating food that is cooked and served hot. That means you should avoid salads or uncooked vegetables, which could have been rinsed in contaminated water or prepared by someone who didn't properly wash their hands. It's not a bad idea to stick to fruit you peel (such as bananas) if you have any at all. Avoid ice unless you're sure it was made from filtered water.
A protocol I learned in Tibet is to take activated charcoal tablets and Pepto Bismal tablets every day before eating any food, and to bring a bag of ginger chews along to eat between meals. These items help mitigate little rumbles in the gut quickly.
Vaccinations & Medications
The CDC advises Mexico travelers to get a hepatitis A vaccine before traveling to Mexico. It also suggests a typhoid vaccine, especially for adventurous eaters and those traveling to small cities or rural areas. Bring an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine such as Imodium AD.
Sensitive travelers may wish to carry carry an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection. And if you do get sick, take care to stay hydrated in order to avoid hospitalization and possible IV treatment.
Anecdotally, I have travelled to Mexico several times without vaccinations or medications, and without incident.
Finances & Security
Find out if your phone carrier has a built-in Mexico plan, or if you have the option to purchase one. It would be good to be able to access your phone, data, and texts while you are there.
As you're packing, think twice about taking valuables with you. If they're not essential, they're probably better off left at home. Try to contain yourself to one or two bags that close securely so that your luggage doesn’t get away from you.
If it is possible, leave your computer at home and work on a phone or tablet to a) avoid theft and b) avoid hacking. If you need to bring your computer, please put it away when not using it.
Scan your passport and travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you can easily access copies from your e-mail account.
Take your bank or credit card's international telephone number with you (the 1-800 numbers used in the United States don't work in Mexico). Your credit card should have a phone number printed on the back that you can call collect from anywhere in the world. Be sure to write that number down separately so you'll have it even if you lose your credit card.
Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home, but don't share details of your travel plans with other people you meet while traveling.
Buy a money belt (not a fanny pack) to carry your money and passport underneath your clothing.
Credit or debit cards are the most convenient way to access your money while traveling, but losing your card (or having it swallowed by a cash machine) can be a great inconvenience, so have a backup plan: take some cash to exchange (and for tips), just in case.
Blend in as much as possible. Walking around with a camera around your neck and a guidebook in your hand advertises your tourist status and may make you a mark for thieves. Try to be discreet.
Choose ATMs at banks while they are open, or in malls or stores if possible. Avoid using ATMs at night or in deserted places. When you withdraw money from an ATM, put it away immediately.
Carry only the cash you need for the moment in your pocket or purse. Carry your passport, credit card and extra money inside your clothes in a money-belt, or in an inside pocket.
Exercise particular caution when in crowds, markets or on public transportation. Pickpockets can be very crafty and sometimes work in pairs - one person will try to distract you while another takes your wallet.
Please stay with the group when we are in crowded areas, and keep my phone number with you (510) 355-7912 and Albert’s phone number, too (925) 667-5488.
Please pack the following items, plus any other comfort or personal care items you might need:
Plane ticket and passport
Sensible clothing and shoes for outdoor activities. The weather in Mexico City has been in the 70s during the day, with scattered showers and rain, and in the 50s at night. Prepare for the possibility of rain and wet weather by bringing sturdy, waterproof shoes and a water repellant jacket, poncho, or umbrella. You can check the weather closer to the date of the trip by clicking here. Bring various thin layers and a good warm outer layer like a thick poncho, wrap, or coat, especially for when we journey to Mixquic for Dia de los Muertos. You will ideally want to wear jeans, pants, or skirts that end at the knee or mid-calf, but nothing that will trail in dirt/mud/puddles. Bring two pairs of shoes and two pair more socks than you think you'll need. There is a washer and dryer in the home we are renting, but make sure to have ample dry socks :)
A shade hat might not go amiss
Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, make-up, personal care products
A money pouch or money belt to carry valuables under your clothes
A bag or purse that sits close to your body
Bandaids, Pepto Bismal, Imodium AD, antibiotic ointment, sleep aids, pain reliever, safety pins, ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper
Pen and journal for notes
Charging cords. You might need a flat, two-prong adapter for any plug with an enlarged end on one prong, or with three prongs.
Crystals or pocket stones you’d like to charge with the energy of the trip
Magical items to wear for Halloween, Samhain ritual, and Dia de los Muertos (but please be cautious about valuables and think about the amount of open flame we are likely to encounter)
A photo or item to place on our ancestor altar, representing an ancestor who inspires you or who you feel is watching out for you
Items to leave as offerings to the spirits of the land (please, natural things only, things that nature will reclaim, such as a small baggie filled with rice or barley or corn)