Travelling is one of, if not the most, exciting things you can do in your lifetime. The very thought of booking a ticket, packing your bags and researching amazing places all over the world is enough to inspire anyone.
That’s exactly what we are trying to do here with Post Pandemic Travellers. We wish for nothing more than for our positive experiences to encourage you to go and see the world!
That being said, we find it important to be real with you as well. It’s not sunshine and rainbows every second of the day (crazy right?) In fact, at any airport in Mexico our experiences have only ever seemed to be thunder and heavy downpours of “WHAT THE F*CK?!”
So we put together this list of advice, or ‘survival’ guide if you will, so that anyone planning travel to or from Mexican airports can prepare themselves and hopefully spend their time swearing much less than we did…
1. Arrive Early, but not too early
This is a tricky one to call. Whilst staying in Merida one backpacker warned us that when arriving 2 hours before his flight (which is a very typical time to be fair) he was told by officials that he had missed it. Despite the fact that he questioned this and after a stressful encounter he DID thankfully make his flight, we decided not to take any risks and arrived to Puerto Escondido airport 5 hours before our flight to Mexico City…
Turns out that the desks for check-in and bag drop do not tend to open until around 2-3 hours before your flight (this goes against everything we have experience of travelling in Europe and Dubai, where you can usually check-in and drop your bags up to a hefty amount of time before flying.)
Basically what this means is that you are left waiting in an area with little to no restaurants or bars, barely any seating, and constantly watching or having to sit around your bags with the fear that they’ll be gone if you turn your back for a few seconds too long.
In our experience, we’ve now learnt that the optimum time to arrive at an airport in Mexico is 3 hours before a flight. Otherwise the results are a sad, empty stomach and a very sore bum!
2. Check-in online
As we are both travelling with large backpacks, the process of checking in online originally seemed pointless to us as we need to wait in line to drop our bags anyway. However, what we discovered at Mexico City airport is that some airlines will charge you extra money on the spot to print off your boarding pass in person.
Luckily Selini spotted a (small) sign whilst walking around the check-in area that mentioned the cost (MXN 200 each) so we were able to check-in online and avoid the additional expenditures. Now we’re saving you the trouble and mentioning it here!
3. Take warm clothes (or a blanket!)
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but even if you master the aforementioned arrival time, the chances are your flight will be delayed (just to provide some statistics, 100% of our flights have been delayed so far.)
Remember when we warned of hardly any seats in certain areas? Well, the only thing worse than being uncomfortable is being uncomfortable AND cold. These airports can get chilly, so plan ahead and make sure to wear warm clothing or take some spare layers in your carry on.
4. Bring snacks
Hate to sound all “first world problems” and that, but why the hell don’t restaurants in airports serve 24 hours?! Not even to provide food, but just somewhere to chill whilst waiting for your flight.
We arrived to Cancun Airport at around 1:15am, and there was no where we could grab a bite or even a chair to pass the time. Instead we found a cold patch on the floor to get those Z’s in before opting for a less than nutritious breakfast at one of the only half-decent places open at 5am (aka Johnny Rockets.)
If you’re travelling late at night or early morning, we’d suggest taking some snacks with you as you might be surprised at the serious lack of offerings during your time at the airport. But hey, if you’re dieting whilst on your backpacking adventure, you certainly won’t struggle with temptation!
5. Prepare yourself for a stressful situation
If we haven’t stressed this enough already (pun very much intended) you may be in for a grueling few hours. Besides from the points made above, not a lot of people at the airports speak English either, which just emphasizes an already stressful situation for lazy Brits like us.
It’s all so bloody worth it at the end of the day though isn’t it? And these encounters just make for hilarious stories in a few years time. So don’t take our rant to be anything negative, simply use it to prepare yourselves for what will no doubt be one of the best trips of your lifetime!
Our DM’s are always open to receive any questions you have about travel to Latin America over on instagram @postpandemictravellers. If we have the answers, we’ll share them with you! Xo