Travel Misconceptions: Tulum, Mexico

Misconceptions is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a wrong or inaccurate idea. My recent trip to Mexico has only proven that I hold many of those thoughts in my mind.

Misconceptions are to be expected. If you’ve never visited a place the most you know is what you’ve learned through research and other people. You don’t have a way of grasping what it’s really like there or how much you’ll eat or spend. You get a shell of an idea but nothing makes sense until you take your first step out of the airport.

So here I have compiled a few things that I turned out being pleasantly incorrect about while in Tulum, Mexico.

Speaking English

Growing up in Brazil I was always warned to not speak english – with good reason too. It was dangerous and the locals charge you extra.

This last part was true for Mexico too. The locals do charge you extra for things, especially handcrafted stuff and transportation. This is mostly because they know the foreigners will pay it. All you have to do is haggle a little and they’ll bring the item down to a more reasonable price.

I didn’t feel unsafe once while speaking English in Tulum. The city was filled with so many tourists that there was no way for me to be singled out if I gave up on attempting to speak Spanish.

Saving Money

One thing everyone tells you is that Mexico is an inexpensive place. Plenty of people say that they went on a trip to Mexico and spent $200 total. What those people are probably not telling you is that they didn’t purchase very many souvenirs.

I took $700 to Mexico and I spent $700. The reason wasn’t because I purchased expensive things and ate at fancy places. It’s simply because I found a lot of beautiful things and I got them for myself and my family and friends.

So yes, it’s very possible to not spend more than $200 on a 1.5 week trip into Tulum but it’s also very possible to spend more than that. You just have to prioritize why you’re going there.

Drinking Water

What’s the one thing everyone always warns you about (right after telling you it’s super dangerous) Mexico?

DON’T DRINK THE WATER.

Seriously, don’t drink the water though.

After they warn you, there’s usually a joke about how you should jus consume alcohol because it’s less expensive than bottled water. This is untrue.

Bottled water was extremely economical in Tulum. Because that’s how the locals stay hydrated too! So yes, the alcohol is as cheap as everyone says, but the water is not as expensive as some people make it out to seem. You can buy 1L for as little as $2US. You would never find water that cheap in the United States.

Clean Tulum

Something that is touched on when traveling to Mexico is how “dirty” it might be compared to other countries. Now, dirty is a relative term. Are there trash bins available for rubbish? Is there a clear system for dispensing waste? How often do the locals bathe? All these questions and more a tie into whether or not people find a country “clean.” Again, clean being a relative term.

In my experience while visiting Tulum is that is was pretty clean. There was barely any trash in the streets, and if there was trash it wasn’t from the locals but from all the dogs wondering the streets. Many neighborhoods and establishments kept their bags of trash elevated off the earth to keep from spreading trash further.

There were plenty of garbage bins available if you were walking the town or the beach. Every few feet there was a bin you could use. Which was really helpful if you brought snacks with you to the beach.

Another ridiculous questions I received was whether or not the locals bathe often, since the water is not safe. The locals bathe daily – just like every other regular human being. Everyone that I met had a reliable supply of water at their homes and it was filled frequently as well.

So yes, the locals are clean, if anything the tourists are the ones who don’t clean themselves often. Or at least that is what the locals complained about often.

 

 

I hope this post helped anyone who was a littler nervous about visiting Mexico! It’s a lovely country and it doesn’t deserve all of the anxiety people feel towards it. That being said, there are places that remain unsafe, just be smart about your travels and go with people who live in or know the area well!

 

Adriana

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