Solo travel in Mexico: The independent globetrotter’s guide

If your friends and family know you want to travel alone in Mexico, you might be feeling overwhelmed by opinions from those who’ve never done it themselves. “Mexico is dangerous” and “You’ll get kidnapped” are the go-to lines that people often told me before I embarked on my trip. Now, with over six months of solo travel in Mexico under my belt, their fears have subsided.

Here’s the truth about traveling alone in Mexico: Locals will go out of their way to help you when you’re lost, you’ll have lots of opportunities to connect with other travelers, and you can order another round of tacos without anyone judging you.

In this guide, I’ll share tips about what you can expect from a solo trip to Mexico based on my experience.

Unraveling the solo female travel stigma

This guide isn’t strictly for women, but as a solo female traveler, this feels like the right place to start. I’ve always felt safe during my solo travels in Mexico. From my experience, catcalls aren’t as prevalent as certain other Latin American countries I’ve visited, and places like Mexico City have female-only cars on their metro (whether that’s putting a band-aid on a problem that needs addressing is a topic for another day).

When deciding where to vacation in Mexico as a female traveler, my advice is don’t limit yourself based on travel distances and transportation methods. I’ve hopped on ferries from Chiquila to Holbox, crisscrossed the Yucatan Peninsula by bus, and flown on a local airline from Mexico City to Oaxaca

Beaching it as a solo traveler

If your plan is to treat yourself to a solo beach getaway, you’re in luck—Mexico has a beach for practically everyone. You can tap into your spiritual side with some meditation in Tulum or mingle with the party crowd in Cancun. 

Getting around Cancun is easy thanks to frequent transfers from the Cancun airport to the Hotel Zone. You can also use Cancun as a base to hop on a ferry or bus to other nearby beach destinations. Below is a chart of some of my favorite Mexican beach destinations when solo traveling.

RouteDuration
Cancun to Isla Mujeres30 minutes
Cancun to Playa del Carmen1 hour
Cancun to Tulum1.5 hours

Alternatively, you can take a bus and ferry combination from Cancun to Cozumel or, for a more remote experience, from Cancun to Chiquila.

©Bryce Bradford/Flickr

Although many of the best beaches to visit in Mexico are in the Yucatan, they’re far from the only good ones. The Pacific side offers excellent surfing in Puerto Escondido, and you can enjoy a luxurious resort getaway in Cabo San Lucas.

The digital nomad lifestyle 

Mexico is a hopping place for digital nomads, so it’s an excellent country to visit if you want to meet fellow remote workers as you take your solo trip. The quality of WiFi varies depending on where you are, but larger cities and popular tourist towns tend to offer reliable connections. 

©Wonderlijk Werken/Flickr

Cowork spaces are becoming a thing in Mexico, and many of these places organize networking events. There are even facilities like the Selina hostel chain that offer cowork and coliving packages. These are wonderful ways to form little social circles as you travel.

My favorite places for working remotely as a solo traveler are Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, and Puerto Escondido. These destinations have a big expat remote work culture, making it easy to connect with people. Furthermore, these are great destinations to base yourself for shorter trips, such as taking the four-hour bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende.

Getting around Mexico as a solo traveler

If you’re on a budget, taking buses is the most affordable way to travel around Mexico alone. The good news is that you can get to just about any destination by bus; the bad news is that some of the journeys can take over a day—and by “day,” I mean 24 hours, not an 8-hour workday. The bus trip from Guadalajara to Tijuana is an example.

©Kevin Jaako/Flickr

That said, taking flights between long-distance destinations often isn’t much more expensive than the bus, especially if you’re only traveling with a carry-on bag. That same Guadalajara to Tijuana trip is an example.

Many long-distance bus companies operate in Mexico, but ADO is among the biggest and most comfortable. Ferries are another popular way to island-hop around the country, and, like the buses, they won’t charge you extra for being a solo traveler. 

I especially love the ferry route from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen since the port in Playa is located right in downtown, meaning I don’t have to worry about bargaining with taxi drivers who want to charge me more for being a solo traveler.

Staying safe

When it comes to safety as a solo traveler in Mexico, practicing common sense goes a long way. I’ve never had safety issues during my time there, but I also don’t wander around poorly lit streets at midnight. My advice? Treat safety in Mexico as you would any other place that you’re unfamiliar with.

That said, taxis are the exception to this rule. Whether you’re alone or with some new friends you met at the beach, you should never hail a taxi off the street; the chance of a pirate taxi picking you up is too high. Instead, call a local taxi company or use a ridesharing app.

You’ve got this!

I know that solo travel to Mexico can feel intimidating at first. However, from my experience, those fears quickly subside after arriving. The important thing to remember is that just because you travel alone doesn’t mean you have to be socially isolated—there are plenty of opportunities to meet locals and fellow solo travelers. Of course, if the purpose of your trip is to disconnect and recharge, Mexico offers an array of quiet destinations. 

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