Traveling in Mexico: What to Do First When You Get There
Changing Dollars To Pesos and other Money Matters
The exchange rate for changing U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos is fairly stable. However, exchange rates can vary considerably from one money exchange house (Casa de Cambio) to another. The best rates are often at the airport but even there different money exchange houses offer different rates. Check around at the airport before you go to the “Sitio Official” to take a taxi to your hotel. Buy at least enough pesos to tide you over for a couple of days. (taxis, hotel, meals, etc.)
Once you’re in the Historic District though, you’ll have to shop for the best available rate on any given day. Don’t buy your pesos at the Casas de Cambio across from the Zocalo, in the Zona Rosa or from your hotel, they always pay the absolute worst rates. The Avenida Madero has quite a number of Casas de Cambio. Walk along the Avenida from Palma down two or three blocks (heading away from the Zocalo) comparing rates at five or six places before buying any pesos. You can save yourself some money if you do.
Speaking of Money
Speaking of money, if you have a bank debit card, an ATM card or credit card from your bank outside of Mexico, they will, in fact, work in the ATM machines here in Mexico. You will get pesos from your withdrawals instead of U.S. dollars. Be careful though, because bank fees vary from bank to bank and some of them charge pretty stiff fees. (which you won’t know about for a month or so when it’s too late) If you need money from home in a hurry it can be worth the fees to have the cash deposited to your bank at home and to withdraw it using your ATM card.
Why not check with your bank before you leave home to find out what the affiliate Mexican bank is. That way you will minimize the fees you pay using the ATMs. For credit card purchases your home bank will wait for days or even weeks in some cases to get the best possible exchange rate. (it’s for them, not you, but you still benefit anyway)
A reasonable amount of up-to-date information can be acquired free from the tourist info office (tel. 525 – 9380) located in the Zona Rosa on the corner of Londres and Amberes two short blocks from the INSURGENTES station of the Metro. To get there, take the passageway marked GENOVA from the plaza after you exit the Metro. Go straight for one block to Londres, turn left on Londres and walk one block to the corner of Amberes.
The Info center is on the right-hand side of the street on the corner. Information including city maps, tours cultural events, hotels, and restaurants is current and provided free for the asking by the volunteer, English – speaking staff. Also available are phone numbers for safe, official taxi services and information on hotels and services for other cities and states in Mexico. Be sure to pick up a map of the Metro system – VERY IMPORTANT!
“The News” is a tabloid newspaper published completely in English in Mexico City and is widely available throughout the Zona Rosa and at newsstands around the Zocalo, Historic District and elsewhere around the city. Its classifieds section is an excellent resource for English teaching jobs. “The News” is also available on-line at:
Almost all other available newspapers (there are more than 100 in Mexico) are entirely in Spanish. Many hotels will also have a newsprint version periodical called “MOTIVOS Para Disfrutar La Ciudad de Mexico”, in Spanish and available free of charge, that contains articles, movie offerings, prices and schedules, restaurant listings and other tourism-related articles and news. Ask the desk clerk if it or something similar is available.
Be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while traveling for free.
For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost PDF Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, immediate delivery details and no-obligation information are available online now at http://bettereflteacher.blogspot.com/
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