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5 Cancun Travel Mistakes To Avoid

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Going on vacation to Cancun is exciting – that feeling when you’ve booked your hotel, counted down the days, packed your suitcases, and are finally leaving your house is pretty unbeatable.  

After all the waiting, make sure your vacation runs smoothly with these simple tips covering what not to do when visiting Cancun.

1. Don’t…only rely on dollars

Although it’s convenient to take US dollars on holiday to Mexico where the currency is widely accepted, it doesn’t always provide you with the best value for money. The unofficial exchange rates fluctuate widely, and you’re likely to receive a different rate from each restaurant, hotel, vendor, and transportation service you use. Changing dollars to pesos makes much more sense when it comes to getting bang for your buck.  

If you’re going to convert US dollars to Mexican pesos, it’s best to do this before you leave home, as you’ll usually get the best rates. If you arrive in Mexico with dollars only, don’t worry. There are plenty of places where you can change currency – at the airport for example, or you can withdraw from an ATM in pesos (be careful of charges though). There are also plenty of currency exchange stores in Cancun.

2. Don’t…stay in your resort the whole vacation

Many of Cancun’s resorts are so comfortable and full of entertainment and activities that it can be easy to spend your whole vacation in-resort. However, there is so much to see and do outside the confines of the hotel that we’d recommend you strike a balance and take some time away from the pool. 

The Mexican Riviera is a unique place, with countless places of cultural and natural interest. If you venture out to explore, you’ll get a much more authentic experience, as well as making some lifelong memories.

Some of the best excursions can be booked through your Cancun Hotel Zone resort, but for some inspiration, how about:

Diving tours
Boat tours

3. Don’t…say yes to the first price

When you’re visiting an open-air souvenir or handicrafts store in Cancun, prices are often given verbally, rather than items being labeled. This means vendors often give a much higher price than they expect you to pay. The way to deal with this situation is to haggle – it’s a common practice in Mexico and nobody will be offended. 

People often ask how much lower they should offer – around 40-50% is a good rule of thumb, and the price you agree will likely end up somewhere in the middle. It’s worth remembering that you should only confirm the deal when it feels right. Walk away if it seems too expensive. But equally, if the first price you’re offered seems fair, you can go ahead and pay it – it’ll make the vendor’s day!

Another thing to remember – in establishments such as a pharmacy or well-known clothing store, haggling is not acceptable, as items here will have a fixed price.

4. Don’t…forget to tip generously

Tipping is customary in Mexico, but generally at lower rates than in the US. However, Mexican hospitality staff often earn very little and rely on tips to top-up their pay. Pesos are best, as locals can use these straight away without visiting a currency exchange store. However, US dollars are also gratefully received. 

Here are some people you should expect to tip, and a rough example of how much:

● Wait service – 15-20%
● Bar staff – tip around $1, or 20 pesos, per drink
● Bellboys – tip around $1-2, or 20-40 pesos, per suitcase
● Housekeeping – tip around $2-5, or 40-100 pesos per night
● Cab drivers – only tip if they help with luggage, around 10 pesos per bag

5. Don’t…lose your immigration card

As part of the immigration process on arrival at Cancun airport, you’ll have to complete an immigration form or Forma Migratoria Múltiple. This may be distributed by the crew on your flight, or you can complete the form online before traveling and present it to immigration officials on arrival. 

The form requires some simple information, such as where you’ll be staying and your contact information, and one form must be completed per visitor. The immigration official will stamp and remove the ‘Entry’ section of the form and will give you the ‘Exit’ section back. For the rest of your vacation, make sure you keep this part of the form safe, as you’ll need to provide it when you leave the country on your way home.

Plan Your Next Cancun Vacation:

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Monday 2nd of May 2022

Also, I repeatedly see online that you will get a comparable exchange rate/fees if you stick to major bank ATMs, etc. This is 100% wrong. Unless you're card is directly associated with the bank and you get zero transaction fees you may be charged from 1.5% to a horrible 10% per transaction. I personally walked from one bank to another in Cancun 4/22 attempting to withdraw $3000MX with my USBank card with very, very different results. BBVA was the worst and wanted 5.8% off the top (with a total that went to 10% if you accepted their exchange rate -- big mistake), HSBC wanted 2.6% off the top and Banorte's total was only 1.5% total at the end of the transaction -- just make sure to DECLINE their exchange rate.