The Yucatan
Must See n' Do
Before You Go
Getting There
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Colonial Yucatan
Yucatan Birding
Mayan World
Medical FAQs
Retiring in Mexico
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Before You Go

This Before You Go page will get you off on the right sandled foot! Here's a list of everything you'll need to bring, think about, take care of before you head off to the airport.

Then relax and enjoy your Yucatan adventure.

Do I need a passport?

If you are from the US, the answer is Yes, if you ever intend to come back. US immigration now requires all US citizens to carry passports when leaving the country. Take care of this well before you go. The process is now fast and efficient, but it still takes time.

If you are from Canada you can probably still get by with another official form of identification such as a valid driver's license, but the process of standardizing all travel in the Western Hemisphere is ongoing. Be safe and bring your passport with you.

What other papers will I need?

Other than a passport and FM-T (temporary tourist visa), nothing else is normally required.

How do I find a good hotel that is my kind of place?

You'll need to do a little research before you go. The Yucatan is a big place and depending on where you happen to be you will find a very wide selection of hotel sizes and styles in every price range. This is certainly true in the touristy areas such a Cancun. Playa del Carmen and Cozumel where you can choose anything from a five star resort complex to a hostel.

In the smaller towns, your choices will be limited, but you will generally be able to find small hotels that offer good clean rooms and hot running water.

Here in the Yucatan, as in many places in the world, it's important to remember that the only way to be sure that you will have "all the comforts of home" is to stay home, and that rather defeats the purpose.

Of course, if after getting there, all you really want is to be pampered, the resort hotels are your best bet. But challenging yourself to brave a few minor inconveniences will reward you many times over. You will see treasures that the Yucatan reserves for those who are willing to wander a little off the beaten track.

For specific recommendations about our favorite places, check the hotel listings for Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, and Merida and the State of Yucatan.

What do I need to bring with me?

The right clothes Which in this case means: dress for the weather. While there are fancy clubs restaurants where dress clothes are appropriate, the Yucatan is generally laid back and casual. But from May to September you can count on heavy rain most afternoons and spells of blistering heat.

Camera and supplies Don't forget to bring your camera. The Yucatan is a photographer's paradise.

Sunscreen An absolute must any time of year. Don't risk getting sun-poisoning just to impress the friends back home! The tropical sun is fierce, and it especially treacherous in areas that are cooled by the sea breeze.

Bottled water Obviously not something you need to bring from home, but another absolute must have when leaving the hotel. Dehydration sets in very quickly and will leave you feeling weak and faint in a matter of hours. The solution is simple: just keep your trusty water bottle at your side at all times. And remember: replace every diuretic beverage (and this includes all the good ones: beer, margaritas and coffee) with at least an equal quantity of water of other hydrating beverage (eg Gatorade).

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes. Let me say that again: Yes! Don't gamble with what could and should be the experience of a lifetime. If you've never needed travel insurance before, think of this. The odds that you will need it increase with every additional trip. Take care of this before you go. Just fo it. You'll thank me, I promise.

Check our our article on senior travel insurance to learn more.

What if I have a medical emergency?

In the unlikely event that you should have a medical problem that requires prompt attention from a qualified physician, you will find the hospitals are generally up to the task. This is especially true in Cancun and Merida. More remote areas are served by small clinics and the quality of medical care may be a bit dodgy.

Best to be prepared: have yourself checked out before you go and bring any medications you'll need with you.

Also, check out our page of Medical FAQs for traveling to Mexico.

What about medications?

You'll find full service pharmacies in most area, and the requirements for prescriptions are more casual than you might expect. Again, it's best to bring what you need with you.

And make sure you know the pharmaceutical name for your medication not just the brand name, as you may need to buy a product from a different manufacturer.

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