Mexico is a place full of wonders -- from the nature to the sense of community to the vibrant culture, you won’t want to leave! As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, there is an unlimited amount of things to do and see in Mexico. As a gapper, you can choose to spend your time in a number of ways - no trip to Mexico is the same.
Types of Programs
There are a plethora of volunteer projects in Mexico. No matter what industry you’re interested in volunteering in, there is sure to be something for you. Sea turtle conservation is a very popular activity for volunteers in Mexico. As a volunteer for sea turtle conservation, you will live on the coast and patrol the beaches day and night to help the newborn turtles. It’s estimated that 35,000 sea turtles are killed annually due to natural reasons as well as human intervention; you can help decrease this number. Environmental conservation is also common in Mexico, where activities range from planting trees to educating about sustainability. If conservation isn’t for you, give back to the community by teaching English or working in healthcare - just be sure to find a project that’s fits your skills and experience.
Although Mexico is a popular tourist spot with many resorts, travelers looking for more of an adventure have plenty of options too. If you want to get off the beach and out of the crowds, here’s some fun ideas for your gap adventure in Mexico: dive off the coast and in caves, hike up a volcano, go surfing, kayak off waterfalls, try rock climbing, go deep-sea fishing, snorkel with the diverse marine life, mountain bike, bird watch, and more. These activities can be found in various locations throughout the country so start your research and planning early to ensure you catch all of the fun things to do in Mexico on a gap year!
If you are looking to gain some professional experience in Mexico, there are also plenty of internship opportunities. Since Mexico is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, there are a large number of tourism/hospitality internships available. Professional internships in big businesses, nonprofits, and law are also a great way to gain experience. Not only will your resume be improved, but so will your Spanish and networking skills.
Planning Your Trip
Culture and Etiquette in Mexico
Culture in Mexico is fairly similar to the rest of Latin America, although there are some general misconceptions and stereotypes about it. Generally, Mexicans are big on family life, which is a great reason to find a program that allows you to stay with a local host family to learn more about the culture. It's polite to eat the food you are served but generally the matriarch of the house doesn't want help cooking or cleaning because that's her job that she takes pride in. (It doesn't hurt to offer though, cooking is also another fun way to experience the culture!)
Schedules in Mexico are fairly more relaxed than the western world as well. Don't be surprised if a friend or colleague shows up 30 minutes late but still considers them self to be on time.
Cost of Living in Mexico
Cost of living mostly depends on where in Mexico you are. Many touristy resort towns on the coast and the border of Mexico are sure to be the most expensive. Large urban areas, like Mexico City, will also be pricey. According to Numbeo, monthly rent can range from 2600 to 3500 Mexican pesos for a one bedroom apartment. Daily habits like sticking to local markets instead of grocery stores can go a long way to save money on your trip.
Health and Safety in Mexico
Mexico gets a bad rap when it comes to health and safety. When it comes down to it, just like anywhere else, some places are safer than others and you should always practice common sense. There are several vaccinations that are recommended, so be sure to check in with your doctor before leaving. Drug-related violence that you may have heard about in the media is confined to the border areas. Besides that and general street smarts, being aware and cautious of fast-paced and unorganized traffic if one of the most important ways to stay safe in Mexico.
Why Take a Gap Year in Mexico?
There are so many reasons to take a gap year in Mexico - not only will you be able to relax and get away from life’s daily pressures, but you will also have the experience of a lifetime. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, Mexico is a wonderful destination. Learn about Mexico and its rich culture and history first-hand.
Contributed by Katie Boyer
Want to earn $10,000 towards your gap year?
US residents ages 14-25 are eligible to apply for our USA Gap Year Fairs Scholarship, due Apr 15th. Register for a gap year fair to learn about eligible programs!