Ready to save money while making phone calls? If you aren't tech savvy, we are here to help you make calls the easy and free way while on vacation. Forget about paying "extra" for an international plan with your cell phone carrier while traveling in Mexico. You need to get "WhatsApp" installed on your cellular phone. It's free and it's easy to use. This app allows you to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world, text and send photos for free when you have access to wi-fi. Ask any Mexican or Expat in Mexico and most will tell you they have WhatsApp on their phone. The person you are calling also needs to have the app downloaded on their phone. Have questions, go to www.whatsapp.com
If you have booked your vacation to Cabo San Lucas, I highly suggest that you pre-book your transportation from the airport to your hotel. There have been reports of Taxis price gouging customers since Hurricane Odile. Desperate times call for desperate measures in some people's eyes. To avoid being a victim to their scams, I would avoid the taxis all together. There are several options for getting around town. You could rent a car at the airport, take the city bus, reserve private transportation or shared transportation. (See previous posts on "Transportation")
If you must take a taxi, I suggest asking "How much" for the ride before even getting in the taxi. Therefore, you and the driver have already agreed on a price. I would not take the ride unless you got a definite answer. The scam that is being done is the taxi driver gives you a ride to your hotel and demands $250USD or more for the ride. The driver has the upper hand because most likely your luggage is in the back of his van. That is nearly triple the price that it should normally cost. Don't become a victim to this scam.
I encourage you to pre-book ROUNDTRIP transportation from the airport to your hotel BEFORE you come to Cabo. It is much cheaper and safer to pre-book your transportation. Everything is paid for in advance and you just need to bring the voucher for the company that you pre-booked with. If you do not purchase "Roundtrip," then you would have to take a taxi back to the airport. The taxi union has made it so you can not use private or shared transportation back to the airport unless you have pre-booked "Roundtrip Transportation" before you arrived in San Jose Del Cabo.
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Upon entering into Mexico, you filled out a "Tourist Card". When you went through customs they stamped your tourist card, tore off the bottom portion and handed it back to you. Now it's time to pack your bags and head to the airport after your awesome vacation. Can't find that Tourist Card? No Worries. Go to the airport and find the INM office (also known as Immigration). Tell the agent on duty that you have lost your tourist card and need to have another one reissued. This will cost $30 USD. You will not be able to leave the country until you do this. All ticket agents with the airlines must staple your tourist card to your airline ticket. They will also take this from you when you get on the airplane.
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When searching for a vacation, do you want to get the best deal? My husband and I worked for a major airline for over 4 years as Flight Attendants. We have learned the "ins and outs" when flying. We have learned to use the airlines to our advantage. Do you feel that every time you fly, you get frustrated because something didn't go as planned? As a passenger, you must understand that flying by air is never a guarantee! Weather can always delay things and it's not the airlines fault when they must delay or even cancel your flight. Airplanes need repair and this may cause a flight to be delayed. Would you really want to be on that plane if a warning light appeared before departure and was not fixed? Patience is key when flying!
If you are looking for a package deal that includes airfare, hotel and transportation you will almost always get a discount by booking them all together. If you are flexible with your travel dates, you will almost always be able to save money. When I search for flights, I always go directly to an airline's website instead of using websites like expedia.com and Travelocity.com. The reason being that you can view a weekly schedule on an airline's webpage. This makes it easy to view which days are cheaper to fly. It is almost always less expensive to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. When viewing flight schedules, look at the total flying time and amount of time for each layover. If you are flying into a large city such as Atlanta, Los Angeles or Phoenix you will need ample time to get from one terminal to the next. Airlines will offer crazy low prices on flights but they will fool you by being 4 flights and over 24 hours of flying time. You want to select the flights that make the most sense. Some flights may connect through Mexico City before arriving in San Jose Del Cabo. When you are returning back into the United States you will go through customs. Make sure you have at least an hour layover. This process takes time and if you checked baggage, you have to claim it and recheck it after customs.
Set a budget! I have watched flights and know what a "good deal" is when searching for flights. The most I will pay is $500 per person for a round-trip ticket. I am flying from the east coast to the west coast so I may be paying more for tickets than you would (depending on where you are flying from). I am willing to drive up to 2 hours to reach nearby airports so I have a better selection of airlines. I am not loyal to one particular airline. The cheapest flight, may not always be the best! Are you planning on checking a bag? Check the airlines baggage fees on their websites. Some airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag. A flight that may have appeared to be the cheapest, may be the more expensive. For example, USAirways charges $25 per bag on domestic and international flights each way. That would be an additional $50. Delta Airlines does not charge for the first bag on international flights. Look at one-way tickets. Sometimes it may be less expensive to buy a one-way ticket on one airline and purchase a one-way ticket on another airline for your return.
Use the airlines to your advantage! Are you on vacation and want to stay a little bit longer? When I check-in at the airport for a flight, I always ask "Is the flight full? Do you need volunteers?" If an airline has oversold a flight, they will ask for volunteers. You must be flexible in your travel if you decide to volunteer. Doing this does have perks. You may be offered $400 or more towards a future flight on that airline. They may also give you vouchers for food. If there are no later outbound flights, they will pay for your hotel and get you scheduled for the next available flight. My husband and I have volunteered in San Jose Del Cabo and we were able to stay one more night in Cabo. The airline provided us transportation to and from the hotel, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort and we were given $400 credits each to use on a future flight.
Always check the weather. If there is any severe weather such as a snowstorm, hurricane or thunderstorm it will delay or even cancel flights. I always check the weather the day before departure. Recently we were leaving San Jose Del Cabo and traveling to South Carolina. There was a massive snowstorm along the east coast. When I looked online on the airline's website, they had issued a Travel Advisory. I contacted the airline and they were waiving all fees to change flights. We decided to stay a few more days and it cost us nothing to change our flights. Normally, it would have cost us $200 per ticket plus the difference in airfare to make a change.
Will you be flying with children? Rule #1: Always have Tylenol in your purse. Children may not appear sick or have an ear infections before departure. Once you takeoff, they will notice extreme pain in their ears. Cabin pressure and altitude affect your ears. If your child is screaming uncontrollably and embarrassing you, the captain will not land the plane. Rule #2: Bring snacks! Having something to snack on always entertains a child and makes the time pass. Rule #3: Bring a cup that has a lid. When the flight attendants serve drinks, you can ask them to fill your cup. This will help avoid spills. Rule #4: Bring a change of clothes and extra diapers (if needed) just in case! Rule#5: Download movies onto your ipad or iPhone. If you are planning to use Wi-Fi on the airplane, it is not strong enough to stream movies. The movies must have already been downloaded. Bring headphones. All devices can not be played aloud.
Do you pay off your credit cards monthly? You may want to consider applying for a credit card with your favorite airline. Most credit cards will give you 30,000 or more miles just for applying. Miles can be used to purchase round-trip airfare. Beware that these credit cards do charge a fee after the first year. I put a reminder in my calendar to cancel the credit card before 12 months.
If you are entering Mexico through an airline, the flight attendants will pass out documents that you will need to fill out in order to enter into Mexico. You will be given 2 documents. The FMM (as pictured to the left) needs to be filled out by each individual. Make sure you fill the entire form out. The bottom fourth of the form needs to be filled out also. I always notice people stepping out of line in customs to fill out the bottom portion. This is your "Tourist Card." You will present your passport along with this form to the customs agent in Mexico. He/she will stamp your passport and tear off the bottom portion of this form and give it to you. It is very important to keep this with you. This is your "Tourist Card". If you lose this, you will be charged a fee upon departure. When you depart from Mexico, the gate agent will staple this "Tourist Card" to your boarding pass. If you are planning to stay in Mexico for an extended amount of time, a tourist card allows you to visit for up to 180 days. If you plan on staying in Mexico more than 180 days, you will need to apply for a temporary visa in the United States at a Mexican Consulate before traveling to Mexico.
The next document you will be given is a "Customs Declaration" form (shown below). If you are traveling with your spouse and/or children, you only need to fill out one form per family. Make sure to fill out both sides of form, sign and date. After you have cleared customs and retrieved your luggage from baggage claim, you will enter into another room. You will then put your baggage through the conveyor belt to be screened. An attendant will be there to take your form. He/she will ask you to press the button. If it lights up green, you may proceed. If it lights up red, they will inspect your luggage.