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Mexico Travel Tips, Puerto Vallarta

Since I have a large destination wedding I’m planning coming up in Puerto Vallarta, I thought I’d write a little about Puerto Vallarta to share with all of you.  There are definatly some things to know about Puerto Vallarta before you go.  Puerto Vallarta used to be very ridden with drug cartels, like most of the hot spots in Mexico.  But, since the vacation hot spots bring in a lot of the money for Mexico, the drug cartels are often ran out of these area and they keep a close eye on this.  They like American money coming into their communities.  So, don’t let this scare you away.  The locals are very friendly and there are Americans that own houses, so they’re often sprinkled among the locals.  They know the hot spots, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Learn some Spanish.  The easy stuff, like “where’s the bathroom?” “how much?” “Please.” “Thank you.”  A lot of people do speak English in the tourist areas.  But, natives always appreciate an effort to learn and use their language.

Some resorts have cliffs, some have beach, but all have water that is a little rough.  Don’t get me wrong, the beauty of the Pacific is something I love, especially when I want to surf.  But, if you’ve been to the Caribbean and are expecting the same in Puerto Vallarta, you’re going to be disappointed.

When you get off the plane in Puerto Vallarta, ignore everyone that is not with the supplier that you booked with.  There are TONS of people trying to sell you things…mostly timeshares.  It can be very overwhelming and annoying.

If you’re planning on doing fun stuff and going on excursions, book early!  These fill up in the high season and if it’s something you really want to do, like whale watching or swimming with the dolphins, you should make sure you’re getting these things booked before you ever leave home.

Packing:

  • Always pack more than one bathing suit.  There’s nothing worse than putting on a wet suit.
  • Bring tennis shoes.  Remember those cliffs I talked about….you’ll want tennis shoes if you’re leaving the resort.  And don’t bring new shoes…even flip flops that are new.  Blisters are never fun on vacation!
  • Sweat shirts are great for cool nights, throwing one in your bag isn’t a bad idea, especially with that Pacific breeze.
  • Check with the hotel about beach towels and hair dryers, they may have them there so you don’t have to pack them.
  • Always put in your carry-on:
    • 1 change of clothes
    • A bathing suit
    • Medication.

At least if your checked bag gets lost, you’re ok for a day at least and then mostly likely you’ll have your bag.  You can always have some things laundered and the hotel gift shops have clothes available for purchase.  A sarong can go a long way in a pinch.

Drink water when you get off the plane.  You’ll be a little dehydrated from the flight.  Don’t immediately take advantage of that all-inclusive bar.  They also have bottles of water, drink them.  Drinking will only make you more dehydrated, you don’t want that on vacation.

Wash your hands A LOT!  Trust me.

Exchange privilages. Check and see if your hotel has free exchange priviliages, otherwise you may want to exchange some in the airport.  Warning: the exchange rate at the airport is not exactly in your favor.  Merchants generally take the American Dollar, but since you probably don’t know the exchange rate, they’re going to take advantage of the situation more than if you have Pesos.

NEVER lose your FMM.  Your FMM is your Visa and you need to turn it in when you depart at the airport. Keep it safe with your Passport or other valuables. If you are staying in Nuevo Vallarta, the State is NAYARIT. If you are staying in Puerto Vallarta the State is JALISCO. You will need this info when you fill out your FMM. Bring a pen on the plane.

Make photo copies of all of your important info BEFORE you leave and keep them separate from the originals. These include:

  • Passport
  • Drivers License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Credit Cards
  • ATM Cards
  • Travelers Checks

Putting these and your Passport in the safe in your room is a good idea, along with any other valuables, like jewelry, cash and electronics.  I always load the safe!

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