1.- WHAT KIND OF ID DO I NEED TO TRAVEL INTO MEXICO?
Traveling into Mexico requires a valid ID to establish your citizenship. If you were only to visit border towns on the Mexican side, such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, Progreso, et cetera, or any location as far as 18 miles into Mexico, you would only need a valid Driver's License (to enter Mexico), but to come back into the USA, you will be required by Customs and Border Protection Officers to show a valid passport book or a passport card (also known as a border crossing card, and enhanced driver’s licenses are good to reenter USA also).
If your trip goes beyond such a distance, no matter what means you choose to do so: by plane, boat, car, train, bike, horseback, skateboard or on foot, you will need a visa form issued by the Mexican Institute for Migration (INM is the abbreviation in Spanish). For many years Viva Tours was given the honorable opportunity of filling this form in advance, but due to changes in the Mexican law, now each one of our passengers has to obtain individually such a visa form. The process is very simple and takes place at any port of entry into Mexico. Viva Tours’ staff will be with you to assist in this matter!
To get a mexican visa from the INM, the traveler must show a valid passport book. It is really important for travelers to know that a passport book means to be valid when the passport is good for 180 days from the date the tour ends and the passenger is to re-enter the USA. As of October 28th, 2018, the Mexican visa costs $533 pesos, approximately $33 USD (that the traveler must pay).
Once the visas are obtained, they will be good for 180 days starting from the day stamped on your migratory form and/or passport. You must keep your passport and Mexican Visa Forma handy to expedite the process of inspection at any check point!!!
Once the tour is over, remember that your visa is good for 180 days! Before they expire, you must turn your visa to the closest office of Mexican Institute for Immigration (bring your passport along with you because they will stamp it again). If you are not planning to travel into Mexico for the next 6 months after this tour, simply return it to any INM Office. Please, notice that failure to comply with the returning of the visa form within the period of its validity, will cause a fine of approximately $350 USD to the traveler!!! So, don't forget to return your visa form!
2.- HOW MUCH CURRENCY SHOULD I TAKE ALONG FOR MY TRIP?
Hmmm, Let's see. Mexican official currency is peso. As of October 28th, 2018, the rate of exchange at the money exchange places located on the American side, in the Rio Grande Valley area, If you sell your dollars to get pesos, you are given a little bit over 17 pesos per dolar, but in case you have pesos and want to buy dollars, they will charge a little bit over than 19 pesos per dolar, and of course, that's the way money exchange places make a profit out of exchanging money. However, given the fact that the exchange system for currency is based upon economic principles, rates may vary from day to day, and even from morning to mid day!
It is important to exchange your dollars before you join your traveling group! And, when you come back, if you got any pesos left, you can go to the same place where you bought pesos and sell' em!: in our experience, the money exchange under the name Casa de Cambio Texas (Texas Money Exchange) with locations in Hidalgo, Pharr, McAllen, Mission and Progreso, provides a fair rate of exchange when compared to other money exchange places (visit their website for exact location and phone numbers: www.texasmoney.com) ;
Now, if you didn't exchange enough dollars, remember that most places in Mexico will accept credit cards, especially visa or MasterCard, many would accept American Express, and Dinners Club is not very much accepted, unfortunately! The rate of exchange you would be given when paying with your credit card, would be the same than you get at a money exchange! (Of course, if you are planning to use your credit card abroad, you have to make sure you call in advance your credit card issuing bank to let them know about your travel! Otherwise, as a security measure, your bank might even block your credit card).
The amount of money you might anticipate to spend depends on how many items you will be dealing with! Allow about 7-8 dollars for breakfast (many of them are included in our tours), 8-9 dollars for lunch, and about the same amount for supper! Let's say that you should consider $25-30 USD for one person's meals (three meals a day), per day, and that is to be on the very safe side! If you are a light eater, you will be surprised by the little amount of money you will spend on your meals!
The rest of money you will spend on your trip is up to you: T-shirts, caps, key chains, colorful handcrafts, exquisite souvenirs, etc. that will add to your trip memories! You will be amazed by the many things you didn't know you couldn't live without!
Also, consider to take extra dollars to tip your guide and driver, at the end of your trip! When proceeding with the guide, we recommend considering a minimum of $6-8 in US currency per day, per person. You will find that your guide has a very important role to play during the trip and, if well deserved, you may want to express your personal thanks to him/her, way beyond this minimum recommended!
3.- IS ELECTRICITY IN MEXICO THE SAME THAN IN THE USA AND CANADA?
Traveling into Mexico does not need of any sort of electrical adapter, for voltage and cycles are the same than in the USA and Canada (110/127 volts, 50/60 cycles). So rest assured that all our chargers and devices will work perfectly while in Mexico, just like if we were at home!
4.- HOW ABOUT DIMENSIONS OF OUR LUGGAGE TO TAKE ON THE PLANE?
You can take one checked piece of luggage up to 25 Kilograms (55 lbs) in weight, and 70 x 38 x 50 centimeters (L, W, H), or its equivalent in inches: 27 x 15 x 20. Please, make sure to consider the size of your luggage's wheels when measuring it. One piece of 10 kilograms (22 lbs) carry-on is allowed. Dimensions of it are not to exceed 55 x 20 x 40 centimeters or its equivalent in inches: 21.5 x 8 x 16 (L,W,H).
Please note that If you happen to travel with dimensions and/or weight above these announced limits, flight carriers may and will apply surcharges (paid by the traveler, not Viva Tours!)
5.- WHAT CAN I DO TO ENSURE A FAST SECURITY SCREENING AT THE AIRPORTS?
Remember that you have the right to take one checked piece of luggage (up to 25 kilos or its equivalent in pounds, 55). In this checked piece of luggage is where we have to place all our liquids, parfums, deodorants, creams, sprays, scissors, nail clippers, camping knives and any sharp object, no matter what size it happens to be. Failing in doing so, could/would result into the impounding of such liquids, sprays and/or sharp objects by security personnel at the airport screening check points!
6.- WHAT TYPE OF CLOTHES SHOULD I ANTICIPATE TO TAKE ALONG?
This is a very good question since weather patterns have changed dramatically over the past few years, but here are two important hints to take into account: the season of the year you are traveling to Mexico and the elevation of the places you will be visiting/staying. Mexico City sits at an elevation of 7,382 above sea level, Zitácuaro: 6536 feet, Monarch Butterflies Reserve goes to at least 9,500 feet and San Miguel de Allende is 6,400 feet above sea level! Our experience tells us that In these places, you can expect the temperature to be from 40 to 50 Fahrenheit degrees in the early morning and from 45 to 55 Fahrenheit degrees by night. During the day, temperature could go from 72 to 80 Fahrenheit degrees! If on a cold day, Viva Tours’ advice is to dress in layers rather than having only one very heavy jacket! Also consider a wise advice: "it is much better to take it and not needing it, than needing it and not to have it'! Comfortable walking/tennis shoes are always recommended!
7.- DO YOU KNOW YOUR LIMITS?
If you are not an athlete that walks 15 miles or swims 5 miles on a daily basis, then, why should you start doing so while on a trip? The very same principle applies when it comes to eat hot and spicy or to drink (alcoholic drinks, that is) in a way different than the one you are used to. Please don't overdo things!
8.- HOW EASILY CAN I GET MY MEDICINE IN MEXICO?
It is not a wise person's decision to travel without proper supply of medication you happen to be prescribed. Make sure to take with you enough amount of medicine indicated by your doctor, for as long as your tour will last. Also, bring and keep your medical prescription to reenter into the USA the medicine you got left at the end of your trip! The fact that you can buy some medicine over-the-counter in Mexico, does not necessarily mean that you have the legal right to import it into the USA, that's why it is very important to carry your prescription with you!
9.- WHERE AND WHEN WILL YOU PICK US UP THE MORNING OUR TOUR STARTS?
The pick-up times and places work differently according to your location and the origin of other tour participants. However, given the fact that a flight to Mexico City is on the table for the first day of your tour, consider a morning gathering of people to take you to Reynosa's airport! Anyway, we will make sure to let you know the exact place and time you will be picked up, with a 2-4 day notice in advance!
10.- ARE OUR FLIGHTS ALREADY CONFIRMED?
Yes, they are. However, keep in mind that, as in any country, all of a sudden, airlines could change their timetables at any time, at their own discretion! In the eventuality that an airline provides sudden/short notice of a change in date/time as for our tour flights concern, Viva Tours will have to adjust the departure/arrival dates for a given tour, assuming no responsibility/liability on any extra expenses, charges and fees that these foretold changes might involve!
11.- HOW ABOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE?
It is strongly suggested that every tour participant make sure to carry proper insurance for the trip. Important as well is to let your insurance company know about your plans of international travel with anticipation. Also is important to check with your insurance carrier about the protocole you would have to follow in case you need to use your insurance while abroad (telephone numbers, list of hospitals where your insurance plans is accepted, etc).