When I decided that I wanted to spend the week before Easter in Mexico City, I sat down at my computer and started to plan. Only this time, it was not as easy. Usually, I would start looking up “things to do.” However, I felt a sense of uneasiness as I started to plan and prepare for the trip. Perhaps the uneasiness was attributed to the anxiety regarding the safety concerns about Mexico. I found myself putting fear in my own mind before I arrived or had even planned! Don’t do this!
It helped that a colleague had recently traveled to Mexico — she helped pinpoint a couple of neighborhoods within Mexico City to visit. She also eased some of my worries about any inherent danger about traveling as a solo traveler. Overall, my trip was memorable and I had a great time. However, there are a few things that I would change before I return to Mexico City.
If I were to start looking at trip planning now, here are the things I would consider:
Ask credible sources about which areas they enjoyed and which ones were least desirable. I find that desirable vs. not-so-desirable are based on personal preferences, but it’s a good start when beginning your trip itinerary. Locals, friends, and the Internet are the best resources to find information.
I have students who are from Mexico City. They informed me of the dangerous areas to avoid. I was able to pick my hotel accommodations and sort through the logistics based on their guidance.
Furthermore, my coworker laid out a pretty solid travel to-do list. She had recently been to Mexico City for a four-day trip. Her recommendations, paired with the urge to see my students in their home country, was the main reason for my visit. She recommended Teotihuacán and Xochimilco. She also recommended using Uber to commute to Teotihuacán and to and from the airport. To and from the airport, I used Uber. As you read on you will find my preferred method of transport for the day excursions.
I used the internet to research any of the missing pieces that I could not find. I wanted to be sure those three locations were, in fact, the closest and made the most sense to visit while I was there for seven days. When in doubt, you can always search the place or city on social media platforms by a specific hashtag. By searching the hashtag, you can find travel groups that have experienced travelers that may be able to help you find out more details about pricing or other things.
Help from the Dreams Abroad Community
Carlos, one of our Dreams Abroad writers, recommended two of the towns that I visited for day trips. I was having a hard time narrowing down my choices. He sent me two YouTube videos created by a Canadian who lived there, in Mexico. Carlos had met him and recommended the videos for me to watch.
After watching the videos, and knowing how much time I had in Mexico (and after doing additional research), I narrowed down my day trips to Teotihuacán, Puebla, and Taxco. I chose these three locations because of their geographical proximity to Mexico City. I would not lose too much time commuting and also, they were highly recommended by locals and other sources on the Internet.
Location Is Key When Taking a Trip to Mexico City
The next step is to find out where to book your accommodations. I stayed in Polanco because it was convenient and I also knew I would earn more points from staying there. One lesson I learned while staying in Polanco was that it was easy to walk to places such as Chapultepec Park. If you can’t walk, you can call an Uber. Ubers are very safe and are what I preferred to use if I wasn’t walking or riding the Red Bus.
The Big Red Bus
Polanco was one of the recommended areas to stay in because of its easy access to the tourist bus stations and the ability to walk to museums. The first day I was in town, I took the Big Red Bus tour with a few of my students and it was very easy to use and locate. The hop-on station was located right across from my hotel at the national auditorium. This was very convenient. The hardest part of the Red Bus was linking up with my students who were coming from different areas of town!
Once we found each other, the bus was easy to use and they enjoyed touring the city with me. There were multiple options for routes and days to purchase. I knew I was going to be in the city for one day because the following day I would be leaving for Teotihuacán. The day pass made the most sense for me since my schedule did not have any consecutive days in the city. We chose the Centro Historico Circuit, which took us around the main downtown area. For those touring Mexico City for the first time, I highly recommend using a bus, as it helps to visualize which areas you want to see from the ground. In addition, the bus is safe and easy to use.
I do a lot of solo traveling because I tend to meet up with friends who live in different countries. I really enjoy meeting new people when I travel. For this reason, I believe using an approved vendor is a great way to see the city and stay safe. Depending on the length of my trip, I will book a few walking tours (for Mexico I used the bus tour). Afterward, I use a vendor to assist with day trips, etc. It just depends on the location and if I have friends that want to go with me or not.
If I am traveling solo on the day trips, I tend to use a trusted vendor to assist with the logistics and to arrange travel out to the location (especially in Mexico since it was my first time there). When I make a second trip, I tend to do more on my own.
As I mentioned earlier, I use the Internet quite a bit for my research for Mexico City trip. I found Vibe Adventures through a travel group on Twitter. They had commented on our Dreams Abroad page on Twitter and so, I reached out to find out more. I ended up really liking their travel plan. They approved of the two cities that I suggested, Taxco and Puebla. They also recommended a visit to the pyramid in Cholula on my way to Puebla. I would not have known to visit Cholula if it weren’t for Nayeli!
I look forward to sharing in more detail my day trips with Nayeli and the adventures on my trip to Mexico City. Each Mexican Magical Town is different and there are over 200 of them within the county. I cannot wait to share more of my experiences from my trip in April 2019.
Stay tuned for part two where I will discuss safety, logistics, and schedule.