Aztec pyramids, bustling beaches, colorful cuisine—traveling with your family to Mexico is an adventure your children will remember for the rest of their lives. The World Tourism Organisation lists Mexico as one of the world’s top 10 travel destinations. You will want to take the following steps to make sure your trip runs smoothly.
Obtain the proper documentation. As of June 1, 2009, passports are required for most U.S. citizens traveling from the United States via land, sea and air regardless of destination. Children under 16 must also present an original or copy of their birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship. Passports can take six to eight weeks to process, so be sure to order them in time for your trip. You can apply for passports at your nearest post office or local government building.
Visit your doctor four to eight weeks prior to your departure. Depending on the specific location you are visiting in Mexico and what you are doing there, you may need vaccinations against malaria, typhoid and other conditions. Research physicians, clinics and hospitals near where you are visiting in case of an emergency.
Be conscious of travel advisories. According to the U.S. Department of State, crime near the border, especially in Tijuana and northern Baja California, is becoming more common. This includes petty theft, carjacking, robbery, kidnapping, homicide and skirmishes between police and drug cartels. Plan to visit legitimate business and tourist areas during the day; stay on the main roads (“cuota” toll roads tend to be more secure) and avoid areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur. Notify Mexican officials and the nearest American consulate or embassy if you fall victim to crime.
Plan for the effects of high altitude, heat and pollution on children. Many of Mexico’s popular tourist sites, including Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are situated in elevated regions. The altitude can cause children to feel tired, so schedule adequate time for rest. Air pollution tends to be worse from January through March, while winds and the rainy season help keep pollution levels low from May through September. Swimming in polluted water, even along touristy beaches in Acapulco, can cause diarrhea and other illnesses.
Pack wisely. Diapers, wipes, ointments, sunscreen and other baby necessities can be purchased at most pharmacies in Mexico. Bring along any special creams or medicines your child might require as well as supporting documentation to pass them through security.
Involve children in your outings. Children play an important part in Mexican culture. Restaurants and other popular attractions welcome them and often provide children’s menus and other special accommodations. It is not uncommon to see kids out late on weekends and during vacations from school. Some hotels provide child care services, but including your children in your adventures will enrich their experience and bring you closer as a family.