Traveling from Cancun to Chetumal

Often times when people come to Mexico they stick around tourist areas like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum ect. Whether they are scared from all the media fear mongering on the television or don’t have confidence in their Spanish skills they limit their vacation to an expensive cliche tourist visit. Most don’t realize how much Mexico truly has to offer along the lines of culture, fun, and experiences outside the tourist zones.
 
I can’t remember the last time I even read about a murder or killing, kidnapping, or attack in Chetumal. Compared to places like Cancun, which has killings weekly. There is much less crime in Chetumal as compared to the average city in the USA. Dangerous Capital cities are a reality all over the world. When it comes to Chetumal, it’s one of a kind with its safety and quality of life. It is known for being family-friendly and a shopping city, right on the border with Belize and along the bay.
 
With just a few sentences in Spanish, you can acquire a rental car or autobus from Cancun to Chetumal. It takes roughly 6 hours from departure to arrival in Chetumal. You’ll find unique crafts, food, and drinks along the way. If you rent a car, be sure you have all your paperwork ready at the checkpoints along the highway, avoid driving at night, and top off the gas tank frequently. Three big reasons I prefer to travel by autobus. I don’t have to worry about anything but catching some ZZZs or checking out the scenery on the way. At most stops, people hop on the bus and offer drinks, snacks, and snack foods, so you don’t have the hassle of packing food or trying to find something while on the road.
 
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That’s all there is to it. I think sometimes people over-exaggerate the challenge and dangers of traveling even if you aren’t fluent in the language. You’ll soon realize the people of Mexico aren’t like Americans or Europeans and are more than willing to help you out even if you must use a translator. The key to Mexico and its people is respect breeds respect. If you have respect and show it, they will too.
 
It really is that easy… once at the autobus station just say “uno por Chetumal por favor.” Or if you want you can just book online so you know exactly when you’ll be leaving and have a few minutes to ask the security guys to help you get on the right bus. You can skip all the tourist traps, the expensive hotels, the loud party atmosphere and hit the parts of Mexico that have authentic and unique activities without the deep price tag. I promise you’ll have more fun down here in Calderitas and Chetumal and the truth is for the same money you’d spend in Cancun in a week you could live out here for a month or two quite easily. Something to consider when pondering your next adventure!

7 Quick Tips for Traveling in Mexico

After traveling all over Mexico and living in a few different places I learned quite a lot along the way. Some of these tips are common sense and others are things you would never think of coming from the USA. The media sells Mexico as a cartel ridden danger zone but the reality is, it’s very safe. It’s more a “show” of force rather than a real gun battle in the streets. Being in some of the most “dangerous” parts of Mexico I really never had a single problem. Actually the opposite, shady looking guys on the side of the highway outside Matamoros gave me a huge container of chicken and a large cola for me and my dog.
 
Here are 7 tips for traveling in Mexico:
 
1) Never carry a lot of money in your wallet. If you do happen to get robbed or need to bribe an officer you don’t want them to know how much money you really have. Look like the stupid tourist, pull out your near empty wallet with a few hundred pesos and let them snatch what you have. Keep your valuable cards and cash tucked away in a safe place or another pocket.
 
2) Never use your phone in a public area without being aware of your surroundings. Losing your phone isn’t the end of the world but it can wreck a good vacation losing all your travel info and GPS. If you are using your phone out in public not paying attention it’s easy for anyone to run by and snatch it.
 
3) Always make eye contact and greet people that pass you within 2 arms length. It’s very common to greet everyone here and making eye contact and a greeting helps thwart any could be robbery. Most times they light up with a smile and reply with a hardy BUEN DIA!
 
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4) Never walk behind or near a sleeping street dog. The dogs in Mexico have a culture of their own. They travel and eat on their own schedule and often times offer a friendly face. Sometimes they’ll follow you to OXXO in hopes of a treat. They meet up on street corners at random times of the day. I have seen 10-15 randomly on one corner just sniffing and wagging tails. Never seen a dog fight. However, there are exceptions. Always be ready and I do not recommend wearing flip flops for this reason. I have had to use my foot as a weapon and shield a couple times. One, a crazy dog got lose. Second time, I was actually thinking about writing this article and thought this was a good tip. On that same walk home I did exactly that while lost in thought. Two dogs jumped up and starting coming at me. Normally they are friendly but I startled them real bad. Hence this rule!
 
5) Don’t be afraid to be yourself and practice your crappy Spanish skills. Most people here are genuinely friendly and welcoming. They are glad to help and usually don’t expect much if anything in return. The people here have a general curiosity about your story and enjoy good conversation. Instead of hitting up the hostels and Dominoes; venture out and meet some locals and try the local foods. It’s all good!
 
6) Take advantage of quality bus transportation. ADO and other bus companies like the combis offer great travel prices to go anywhere in Mexico. No ID, no passports, nothing is required and it’s very cheap! You stop in random places and people will get on and offer snacks and drink from the jungle. You can take full advantage of your trip to Mexico by using these buses to get around anywhere rather quickly and affordably.
 
7) Haggling is a key skill when purchasing tourist packages or boat tours or anything like this. You can usually get away with 20% off the price but don’t over due it. These people are hard working and make great products and tours are authentic and fun. I purchased a hammock years ago that was hand made and very nice quality. I ended up paying full price but didn’t mind because of the quality and I knew it was hand made. I sleep in it every night and foresee myself having it for a long time. Haggle firmly but be fair!
 

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