Preparing For Your Trip To Cancun
Thorough preparation before your trip is vital, especially when traveling internationally. The documentation required for entry into a country is something that should be investigated well before your trip. Booking a flight and a hotel 6-8 weeks in advance will also reduce the stress of travel and will make your vacation that much more enjoyable.
Also, making a decision in advance about your preferred mode of transportation while you’re in Cancun will ease your transition into your Mexican vacation. If you choose to rent a car while you are there, it is often cheaper to reserve a car before you leave than renting it in the airport in Cancun. That also ensures you will have a car once you arrive.
Entry into Mexico
Passports are not required documentation for U.S. citizens to enter Mexico, but you will need at least an original copy of your birth certificate (or some other proof of citizenship) and a picture I.D., such as a drivers’ license, if you do not have a passport. A tourist card is also required, which you should be able to obtain for a small fee from your airline upon arrival. Notarized consent is also required for children under the age of 18 that are traveling alone, with just one parent or with someone other than a parent. The Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C. can be found on the Internet at www.embassyofmexico.org or contacted by phone at (202) 728-1600.
If you do have a passport, make a copy of it to leave at home and one to carry in a separate bag, in case it is lost or stolen while you are outside of the U.S. That will ease replacing your passport and make sure you can gain entry back into the U.S.
If you are planning to rent a car while you are there, you will need to take your driver’s license. An international driver’s license is not required in Mexico, as long as you have a U.S.–issued license. However, U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico, so you should purchase auto insurance once you arrive.
Cash, Credit and Currency in Cancun
Although the U.S. dollar is accepted many places in Mexico, it is a good idea to convert some of your money to the Mexican currency, the peso. The value of the peso fluctuates, but on average, one U.S. dollar is worth about 10 pesos. You will have plenty of opportunity to convert your money once you arrive in Mexico, although currency conversion in the airport is often more expensive than other places in the city.
Credit cards are becoming more accepted in Mexico, although you should not assume shops, restaurants, etc., will accept your credit card. It is also not a good idea to assume that you will be able to get money from an ATM once you arrive in Cancun. Check with your bank before you leave to see if your bank or ATM card will be valid in Mexico.
Traveler’s checks are also an attractive alternative to carrying cash. Be sure to carry your receipt and checks in separate places, as the checks cannot be replaced without the receipt. It is also a good idea to make a copy of the checks and the receipt to leave at home and one to carry in a separate bag with you, in case they are lost or stolen. What may seem like over-preparation could save you lots of headaches in the future.
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