Behavoir & Manners

Mexican behavior is much more conservative and reserved than most American's. To be effective in enjoying and getting the most from your trip show consideration to your Mexican fellows, you must do things their way! You can get a good idea of what is appropriate and what is dumb by watching what the locals are doing. Here are some other hints you can follow.

In Mexico, the people tend to stand closer during a conversation than Americans do. Backing away may be considered unfriendly.

Do not use the common gesture for "O.K." (thumb and index finger in a circle) in Mexico, as this is considered vulgar.

When purchasing an item from a store in Mexico, place the money directly in the clerk’s hand. It would be an indication of contempt for the clerk if you placed it on the counter.

As you form friendships in Mexico, the greeting will change quickly from a handshake to a hug. Men have more friendly physical contact than generally seen in the U.S.; these gestures should be accepted willingly.

Close male acquaintances will often perform the "abrazo," a Mexican gesture of good will. The abrazo is a combination hug/backslap/handshake and is used in business situations as well.

If you bring home glazed ceramics from Mexico, only use them for decoration. Many pieces have a dangerously high lead content, and should not be used for storing or serving food and beverages.

ATTITUDE: Consider others better than yourself. Intelligence has been issued fairly evenly. Education has not. Many Mexicans you will meet will have limited formal education. Never act superior or talk down to people you meet. Like everybody else in this world, they have lessons to teach you if you are listening. Be courteous, friendly, and ready to share. Most of all, always SMILE and say "Buenos Dias!".

Be sincere and forward. Break the ice with a handshake and a smile even if you haven't learned to say Buenos Dias yet. Since you are a guest in their country, show your appreciation of Mexican hospitality. Tell him your name first in Spanish. Make it a point to learn names.


This Travel Tip is definitely not critical, but it can be a ton of fun. The people who serve you in Mexico are also serving thousands of other tourists, but they rarely receive any special recognition from visitors for their efforts. Sometimes it can be fun to bring down small items to give to these people, especially if they provide you with excellent service.

Items they enjoy include nice pens, pocket calendars, key chains and other trinkets that easily fit into your luggage. These types of gifts are good for someone who has helped you at the front desk of the hotel, or maybe gone out of their way at a restaurant or at an event that you attended. Of course the kids like candy, small toys, decals other items, and if they clean your windshield do some other favor for you these types of items are usually appreciated.

It's easy to be a typical tourist, but with a little extra effort you can be a very special person, and maybe even make a new friend.

Just because you don't have to know any Spanish to enjoy Mexico doesn't mean you shouldn't. Learning 10 or 15 key Spanish words sets you out from the crowd, and the local people love it when you try to meet them halfway (no matter how badly you butcher their language!). Most people who have fun with the language end up speaking a language we call "Spanglish". Spanglish is usually a good hearted attempt to speak basic Spanish, with a little English sprinkled around to fill in the gaps. Mexicans don't seem to have much of a problem understanding Spanglish, and it's fun trying to communicate with them as far as your talents will take you!