1. Do learn a few Spanish phrases before your trip. Knowing the basics, such as “hello, please, bless you, goodbye, excuse me, where is the…, etc” will make it much easier to communicate with locals if you need assistance. More importantly, Mexicans tend to appreciate it when a tourist at least attempts to speak their language, and you will typically find they are more willing to help you if they see you’ve respected their culture by learning some basic phrases.
Don’t limit yourself only to the touristy areas! Even if you are there for business, try to get outside of the hotel/resort parts of town and explore some authentic Mexican culture. These areas are often safer than the touristy ones because there will be fewer opportunistic criminals running around. As long as you stay alert and continue to use common sense, you should be fine. Your adventurous spirit will be rewarded with (among other things) an abundance of authentic, delicious, and inexpensive cuisine!
3. Do bring small denomination U.S. currency with you. U.S. Dollars are accepted virtually everywhere in Mexico, and have the added benefit of being familiar to you. Just be sure to remember the conversion rate to Pesos
Don’t, under any circumstances, try to bring or buy drugs or weapons during your visit. It is no secret that the drug war is raging in Mexico. While the violence surrounding the war is well known, millions of people manage to travel throughout Mexico every year without incident and it is very unlikely that it will impact your trip.
4. Do be on time for business meetings. Although it is true that Mexican culture tends to prefer guests arrive a bit late, you still should not risk this for a business meeting. Even if you end up waiting for your Mexican business partners, this is preferable to offending them if they happen to follow American business standards.
Don’t drink the tap water anywhere in Mexico. Despite any wishful thinking you may have, the poor quality of tap water in Mexico is not a myth, and it can make you VERY sick. Most hotels will have bottled water available, and it is easy to find inexpensive bottled water on most street corners. Remember to use bottled water even for situations where you aren’t directly drinking it, such as brushing your teeth or rinsing off food before eating it. Be careful because some restaurants will serve tap water. This is the same tap water, and it will make you just as sick. Make sure to order bottled water anytime you eat at a restaurant! If you are staying for a while, consider bringing a portable water filter.