If you’re seriously considering a trip to Mexico, this might just be the most useful post. Admittedly if your interest is only casual, the following post might get a tad loquacious, so I split it into 2 parts for an easier read.
It’s all about the clothes
I can hear most men say ‘Here we go again’. I half-heartedly concur with their opinion and have to admit that being a woman that’s quite a cognitive dissonance. Just be sensible: no need to drag your entire wardrobe across the globe, I can guarantee you won’t wear half of it. Be rather practical and focus on the essentials instead.
Pack appropriately for the weather. Besides your collection of bikinis and swimwear (arguably my most worn pieces during my trip), only pack clothes made of light, breathable fabrics, like linen and pure cotton. Avoid synthetics and blends, since they trap the heat, won’t let your skin breathe and prevent your body from cooling itself naturally.
Consider changes in weather. Prepare for a warm climate, but pack an umbrella or a foldaway raincoat for the occasional rain showers, and a light cardigan to cover your shoulders after sundown (that will also protect you somewhat from the mosquitos). If you’re planning an overnight stay in the jungle, also cram in a fleece, trust me you won’t regret it. The jungle is tricky. Temperatures in November can drop to 17 degrees, but because of the humidity you’ll feel it much colder (this is first-hand info). Have 2 pairs of shoes, flip-flops for the beach (the ones you don’t mind getting wet), and another pair for city visits and jungle trips. Make sure your trek shoes are comfortable enough to be worn all day, but still let your feet breathe. If you’re into hiking, keep in mind that being on your feet in the heat all day will make your feet swell, so consider buying shoes half a size bigger than your size.
Learn to take the heat
Most people underestimate the climate in Mexico. Looking at the average temperatures around the time of my trip I made the same mistake. In fact, the heat combined with the high humidity is what makes the climate so difficult to bear for some of us. You can easily feel tired, light-headed, even lethargic if you’re sensitive. My advice: take the warmest time of the day off (usually between 11am and 3pm), have a siesta, enjoy the cooling bliss of the ceiling fan or the air conditioning in your room. If you can’t stay indoors, make sure to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunblock, sunglasses and by staying in the shade. If it still gets too much, pick a cafe or restaurant to cool down and refresh yourself in the bathroom.
I need a drink
Mainly for the above-mentioned reasons, it’s also crucial that you consume plenty of fluids throughout the day. You will most likely sweat a lot more than usual (unless you visit from a similar climate). Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; thirst is the first sign of dehydration. If you’re not careful, dizziness and headache will follow. Try citrus water (squeeze a bit of fresh lime or lemon juice in a glass of water, but avoid the store-bought versions) or coconut water (a lot of grocery stores sell it fresh). They are both excellent thirst quenchers and good alternatives to water. Coconut water is also rich in electrolytes which will help you replenish the salts and minerals you lose by sweating.
I should wash your mouth with soap
Last week we’ve touched a bit on food safety. In addition, here are a few golden rules to get through your trip unscathed. Tap water is not drinkable in Mexico; you can buy purified or bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth at local groceries, supermarkets, and gas stations.
At the risk of sounding like your mom, wash your hands before a meal. Wash or peel any fresh fruit to avoid infections. Don’t be afraid of spicy food; spices like chilli and turmeric might make you sweat even more, but they have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and will help keep your intestines clean.
Avoid street vendors or if you can’t resist, make sure what you buy is fresh, made in front of you and cooked through. Forget medium steaks, they’re not worth the risk of getting sick.
To the infirmary!
Antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, aloe vera for sunburn and insect bites, painkillers, anti-diarrhoea pills, band-aids for cuts and blisters are all useful in a little first aid kit. If you’re planning a longer trip in a jungle, you might wanna add a water purification system. Need I say more?
Mosquitos, mosquitos, flies that bite, and more mosquitos. I’m not kidding. They are more resilient than their European cousins and probably mutated to be immune to repellents by now. Jokes aside, it’s better to be prepared, otherwise you’ll spend most of your holiday flailing at the local wildlife and scratching yourself until you bleed. Mosquitos focus their attacks on feet and ankles since the skin is thinner there, and most people leave it exposed. So buckle up, they come out after sundown…
Useful tip: wearing knee high compression socks for long flights keeps your feet
from swelling and helps prevent deep-vein thrombosis.
This concludes Part I. Click here for Part II for more practical advice.