Some Bumps in the Road: Moving to Mexico

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I have been incredibly thankful to all the individuals I have come to form relationships with who had to move to Mexico already.  These people have helped me discover so many things that I would have otherwise simply run into blindly.  However, in the past two days, there are two different issues which I ran into that I hadn’t heard many others talk about, so I figured I should share them.

The first is baggage fees.  I’m sure that this is an obvious one for those who travel a lot, but I did not travel from the age of 7 until the age of 24.  A lot changed in those years with airlines.  Additionally, I had never traveled internationally.  I have made 3 trips to Mexico in the last year and a half, but each time I only took a carry-on and one checked bag at the most.  I never had to deal with baggage fees.

Yesterday I called American Airlines to inquire about round-trip vs one-way tickets and decided to ask about baggage fees as well.  I had looked at the scale listed online, which said 1st is free, 2nd is $30, and 3-5 is $100.  According to the man I spoke with, on a flight to Mexico, 3-5 are $150.  While $150 more in fees is something I can handle, if I had found out at the counter, I would have freaked.

The second is card permissions and PIN numbers.  Apparently, I can only have Mexico permissions on a card for three months at a time.  Since I had never stayed more than a week, I had no idea about this.  So make certain you have the correct numbers ready and know the date you need to call them by.

When it comes to PIN numbers, make sure it is only four digits.  I chose eight because I thought it made my card safer.  According to some folks who have moved to Mexico, it only makes it impossible to use your card.  Now there are some people who said theirs works by just entering the first four numbers, but others said that was a no-go for them.  So my thought is that it is better to be safe than sorry on this one; especially since you may be counting on using an ATM and most banks will not let you change your PIN anywhere except inside a branch of the bank.

So, here are my two bumps in the road for today.  If I come across more, I will share them, and hopefully they will help someone who otherwise would have been left in a not-so-great situation.

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10 responses »

  1. I wasn’t sure about the baggage charges either. AA told me (back over a year ago when I last flew in) that I was only allowed 2 bags per person (The charge for the second was somewhere around $100). Since I had a child in my lap, she was allowed 2 bags as well (not counting car seats, those didn’t count in my total bags). They claimed it was Mexico who set up those rules (maybe it was the airport, no one seemed clear on it) but I was able to carry on the stroller, my diaper bag, a purse for each (so a toddler, an infant, and I all had purses), and two additional carry-ons per person. They ended up checking all at the gate except my diaper bag and the purses. Somehow I managed to get through with 6 suitcases and enough little bags to fill another 2 suitcases. It was crazy! Get there really early to the gate. With all the international issues, the lady at the check in for my AA flight was so slow that I had to literally run through the entire airport to make my plane.

    • I know that the bag limits change with different times of year and also the final destinations in Mexico. If flying to a smaller airport, they restrict your bags more.

      I have no idea how I will make it out of customs with all my bags.

    • I feel like a hoarder going with five checked bags plus my two carry-ons, but I have so much stuff I feel I need. I have to have professional clothes and casual clothes and pajamas plus stuff for Sal and his family plus my school items (like books) plus stuff for the house plus health/medicine. I have gotten rid of everything that I think I do not really need or can wait for until I come back in December, but I think people are going to be looking at me like I am a crazy, possession hungry moron. I also hope customs doesn’t think I am taking stuff to sell.

  2. I checked 6 huge Uhaul boxes…luckily we hit the green light and they didn’t need to be searched, but I was questioned about what was in the boxes and why I was bringing so much with me.

    • I never thought about bringing boxes, but I am not sure how I would get through customs alone with boxes. Were any of them overweight?

      • Boxes were such a bad idea. They were way too big. I definitely would have used something different if I was alone. I was pretty much within the weight limit; Delta let the few pounds I was over on some of them slide.

        I’m assuming you bought round trip tickets. I bought one-way originally and they wouldn’t give me our boarding passes until I bought return tickets. I was told Mexico does not allow one-way air travel. I’m not sure if that’s true, or just a Delta thing.

        And don’t worry about getting through customs alone…you’ll be bombarded with lots of offers for “help”. Just remember they expect a tip.

        • I have heard about this round-trip thing; I called American and they said they had no policy regarding this, but that I needed to check with the Mexican consulate. I went in once before on a one-way ticket and nothing was said to me. I intend to come back in December, so if they make me buy a ticket I will just take my return for then. By that time, I should have my FM3 and will be able to fly back in on a one-way without problems.

          I figure if I am stopped by Mexican immigration for only having a one-way ticket, I will just explain that I have not yet decided which day in those 180 days I am returning or if I will do so by bus to save money. Which is true, really. I don’t know the exact day I am returning for a visit, it will be within the 180 days, and while I doubt I would take a bus, it is always an option if I am broke.

          • I bought one way tickets, no one ever asked. When they stamped my passport when I got to Mexico, they did ask how long I was staying for. I just told them that my husband was deported, and before I even finished, the guy stamped my passport, told me I was a good woman, and then said in English “Go find your husband”.

            I saw a lot of people on the plane using boxes and the cheap bags they sell here at Mercado (with mickey and mini mouse one them) as luggage. It made me smile seeing it. The only problem is that many were worse for the wear from the flight, and I helped more than one women gather up their items that went spilling across the lobby between baggage and customs. For that reason alone I wouldn’t use them. When we landed in the airport, there were men there with carts who helped us carry everything through customs and out to the car. They worked for tips, and my husband just gave them like 5 pesos per bag (generous for him to tip that much, and based on the guy’s reaction, more than they are used to getting). At customs it wasn’t too much of a problem, I wasn’t even charged when I explained the reason I had brought so much stuff. That doesn’t seem typical, but a lot of times, I’ve been able to get people who are understanding of the immigration issue, and more than happy to help out people having to start over or relocate.

          • So the men with the carts can leave customs with you? I didn’t know that. I just need to get from customs to the bus ticket counter. Maybe I will do that instead of using the cart.

            I hope I am as lucky as you and I don’t get charged!

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