Volunteering in Mexico

Volunteer in Mexico

What to Know Before Volunteer in Mexico

Volunteer in Mexico is a great journey to plan. Mexico, officially called the Mexican United States, is a desert and tropical country in North and Central America. Mexico has one of the most complex locations on the continent. It borders the United States, the Caribbean nations, and the rest of Latin America. Historically, it has also has had cultural connections with Asia and Africa. 


Also Read: How to Volunteer in Dominican Republic?


Mexico is one of the few megadiverse countries. Northern Mexico is mainly a desert, while Southern Mexico is full of jungles. Mexico has also microenvironments, in which you can find coniferous forests. This diversity allows Mexico to have more than 30,000 different plants, many of which are autochthonous to the country. There are also thousands of permanent or migratory species of mammals, fish, birds and amphibians. 


Mexico is considered a developing country, in which the economy depends on oil, production and exportation of cars, clothes and electronics, tourism and agriculture. It is also considered one of the easiest countries to do business in Latin American. Mexican economy is quite open and many of the major international brands can also be found there. Lately, technology and financial services has played a major role in the national economy. 


Half of the population falls on the wide mestizo group (mix of Native Americans and Europeans). Around a quarter of the population are from one of the 68 indigenous groups. There also minorities of Afromexicans and Mexicans of Asian or European descent. Mexican people are generally welcoming to foreigners and happy to help when needed. 


Volunteer in Mexico

If you want to Volunteer in Mexico then let me tell you that Mexico is one of the top volunteering destinations in the world. The reason being that there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities around the country. Likewise, projects can be on topics such as ecologic preservation, work with poor communities, education or economic development. Those are key issues to take into account since your living conditions can be impacted by the place and project you’re working with. 


However, Mexicans are generally open and happy to help people volunteering in the country. You can expect locals trying to assist you, even for the smallest tasks. Although in most cases people won’t expect something in return, you can give back by showing something from your home country. Mexicans are quite curious about foreign cultures and countries. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mision Mexico (@misionmexico) on


Below you will find all the information you need to know before departing to volunteer and travel in Mexico. We also recommend a website VisitMexico which will be enough useful while planning your trip but read the complete blog for the entire knowledge of how to Volunteer in Mexico. 


The official language in Mexico is Spanish. Mexican Spanish is quite distinct from other Spanish dialects. In addition to Spanish, there are 68 indigenous languages that are official in the communities where they are spoken. The most spoken ones include nahuatl, mayan, mixteco, zapoteco and otomí. 


English is the second most spoken language in Mexico. Around 10% of the population can speak English at least on a conversational level. Most of English speakers in Mexico can be found near the border with US, in large cities and among youngsters. 


Other popular foreign languages include German, French, Japanese and most recently Mandarin Chinese. This is because many foreign companies are present in Mexico. Some young folks study these languages in order to have better job opportunities. If you speak any of them, you will certainly find people wanting to practice these languages with you.


If you volunteer in Mexico, it’s quite likely that you will hear the following phrases: 


  1. Ándale: Go! 
  2. Apapachar: to hug
  3. Botanas: snacks
  4. Cantinflear: speaking a lot while saying nothing
  5. Chido: cool
  6. Chingón: awesome
  7. Cruda: hangover (literally means “raw”)
  8. Fresa: high-class person (literally “strawberry”)
  9. Güey: buddy
  10. Me vale madre: I don’t care (literally “worth a mother”)
  11. Neta: really
  12. No mames: really? Or are you sure?
  13. Órale: ok!
  14. Padre: cool (literally “father”) 
  15. Pendejo: fool
  16. Pinche: derogatory term to use before a noun. 


Weather conditions depend on the part of Mexico where are you living. 


Northern Mexico has the most drastic changes. Because it’s a desert, summers (June to September) can be extremely warm temperatures getting close to 40°C. In winter, it can be as cold as 0°C and there’s even the chance of snow. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Food & Travel (@jackie_gypsysoul) on

Central Mexico has a more stable climate, with temperatures between 10°C to 30°C year-round. 


While also very stable, temperatures in Southern Mexico are around 30°C year-round. 


The currency of legal tender in Mexico is the Mexican peso. The Mexican economy is one of the strongest and most stable in Latin America. There are no cash shortages and you can find ATMs in any city and town. One American dollar is worth around 20 Mexican pesos. Remember that except on major touristic cities (Cancun or Cabo San Lucas), you cannot pay in foreign currencies. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by 旅人 (@kenshiro_yamamoto) on

In most places, you can pay with debit or credit cards. Small family-run convenience stores and restaurants are exceptions to this. However, payment with credit cards is becoming more available. You won’t face any problem in this regard in major cities like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla or Tijuana. This isn’t an option as much available in smaller cities and towns. 


Cryptocurrencies are still unknown to most people. However, there are a few places in which you’re able to pay using cryptocurrencies – mainly in major cities.

Timings and weekends

The current time in Mexico is UTC-6. While the average working hours are 8 to 5, it’s not uncommon that people do extra hours. 


The government and banks work only from Monday to Friday. Shops, restaurants and malls are often open every day of the week.


In Mexico you can find a wide offer of accommodation. This goes from the most luxurious options to the most budget-friendly ones. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BEAUTIFUL HOTELS AND RESORTS ? (@stay_a_little_luxe) on

In most cases, receiving organizations provide or (at least) arrange accommodation for their volunteers. Often, volunteers are hosted by a local family or in a flat with fellow volunteers. 


There are several 4 and 5 star hotels all over Mexico. This includes major hotel-chain brand. Mid-range and budget options for short stays include homestays, hostels and 3 star hotels.

Religious Diversity

Mexico is mainly a Catholic country. However, worship freedom is well respected. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gaby Rocha (@gabyrocha6) on

Other minor religions are mainly Christian related: Jehova witnesses or Evangelical Christians. There are small communities of Jews and Muslims too. 


Mexicans in big cities are not as conservative as the ones living in smaller towns. Actually, only a minority of Mexican practice religion on a daily basis. However, those who do practice are very devoted. 


In recent times, more people have turned into Atheism or Agnosticism. 


Food is a central part of Mexican culture. Foreign volunteers will soon realize that actual Mexican food is very different from what they imagined. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Samira | México (@brasileiranomexico) on

Most traditional dishes are spicy. Keep in mind that Mexican people cook for Mexican standards. While locals might not consider a food spicy, it can be really hot if you’re not used to it. Sometimes dishes themselves are not spicy, but salsa or peppers are added (for example tacos or sandwiches). You can always ask not to add spices to your dish (“sin chile”).


Tortillas are the equivalent to bread in other countries. This is the main source of carbs among Mexicans. In Central and Southern Mexico, corn tortillas are widely used while on Northern Mexico flour tortillas (as the ones for burritos) are more popular. Flour tortillas are more caloric and more processed than corn ones. 


Other ingredients of Mexican cuisine includes beans, pumpkin, avocado, several types of fruit and vegetables. Chicken and pork are the main sources of protein in cities outside the seaside, while fish and seafood are widely available in coastal cities. Vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t face problems finding options that fit their eating habits. 


Many people get sick when they try Mexican food for the first time. Keep in mind that your stomach might not be used to how food is cooked. It’s advisable to bring with you the medicines you’d usually take in your country for stomachaches and diarrhea. Likewise, tap water is not drinkable. Always drink bottled water.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nelson Santos (@travelingvolunteeryogi) on


International food is widely available. Major fast-food chains can be found there. More expensive options such as Japanese, Italian, Spanish and French restaurants are also easy to find. Volunteer in Mexico will be ultimate fun.


It is said in Mexico that you can experience all seasons in a single day. Therefore, it’s better to be prepared for all case-scenario. While the raining season is between May and November, rains can happen at any time of the year. If you’re living in Central or Northern Mexico, it is advisable to always carry any cloth that can keep you warm at 10°C. If you’re living in Southern Mexico, you can wear shorts and a t-shit every day.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rodrigo París (@rparisr) on


Intercity transport is mainly through buses and planes. The rail system is only for the transport of goods. However, there’s an ongoing project to build a train system for passengers in the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico is a huge country. Travel from one side of the country to the other can last up to 3 hours by plane and 2 days by car. However, many low-cost flights are available and all the country is well connected. Volunteer in Mexico will be stress less in the way that you’ll be satisfied with transportation.


Within cities, the fastest transport option is taxis. However, a cheaper and safer option is to use apps such as Uber, Didi or Cabify. Public transport is quite cheap. Metro systems are a fast and reliable option in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Metrobuses in Mexico are also a good option for transport in Mexico City downtown. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by july_photos.cl (@july_photos.cl) on

Buses and minibuses are available all over Mexico, but they are not always a reliable or safe option. Before using buses or minibuses for public transport, ask locals for the best option. If you’re willing to Volunteer in Mexico there may be many discounts on travelling be waiting for you.


You can easily arrive in Mexico from the US, Canada, Europe and other Latin American countries. Major airports include Benito Juárez Airport in Mexico City, Cancun International Airport, Miguel Hidalgo Costilla Airport in Guadalajara and Mariano Escobedo Airport in Monterrey. If you’re traveling to a city close to the US border, the best option is to fly to the neighboring American city. For example, you can book your ticket to San Diego if you’re going to Tijuana or Mexicalli or to El Paso if you’re going to Ciudad Juarez.


Public and private hospitals and clinics are available in Mexico. It’s advisable to get private insurance. Quality in private health providers is usually better than in public hospitals. However, private health care is expensive. You can find private hospitals in every city with more than 100,000 inhabitants. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Resumen de Salud CR (@resumendesalud_cr) on


In case you go to a public hospital, there’s a chance that you won’t be admitted unless it is considered to be an absolute emergency. Public hospitals in Mexico are reserved to “public contributors”, meaning that you have no right to public health if you don’t officially work in the country. Most volunteers don’t follow within such category. 



Some receiving organizations offer insurance. In case they don’t, keep in mind that all internationally recognized insurance companies are covered in Mexico. 


The following vaccines are recommended to visit Mexico: Hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, rabies, yellow fever and varicella.


Mexico is a presidential system, in which most of the power is within the president’s hands. The national congress and judicial system have become independent and relevant actors only very recently. 


Politics is a very divisive matter in Mexico. If possible, try to avoid this topic. Many people support the current leftist government led by the Morena party. Opposition parties include right-wing PRI and PAN. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jaymex Hdez (@jaymex1) on

Although there’s no security concern if you express your political opinions, Mexican people can be very sensitive if you disagree with them. Especially if you have a different political opinion.


Due to the complex US-Mexico relations, it’s also unwise to express any type of sympathy towards the American Republican Party – for example, towards Donald Trump. 

Markets and bargaining

Shopping in Mexico has three main options: supermarkets, markets and “tienditas”. 


Major international supermarkets and retailers can be found in Mexico, such as Walmart or Costco. These are great options to buy in bulk. Likewise, the most renowned clothing brands can be found in Mexico. Stores as Oxxo and 7Eleven are chain convenience stores that are found all over Mexico and are open 24/7 – and even during holidays! 


Markets are the best option for buying fresh products, such as fruits, vegetables and meat. Unlike supermarkets, products in Mexican markets are locally produced. Therefore, you can expect them to be organic. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lindy (@lindiiiwe) on

“Tienditas” (little shop in English) are small family-run shops. While not the cheapest option, they are very convenient since you can find one almost in every corner.  


Street vendors are very common. In most cases is better to avoid them. However, that’s also the only source of income for the less privileged people. So, don’t doubt to buy once in a while from a nice street vendor that you see often.

Safety precautions

Safety in Mexico is a pure matter of common sense and acting rationally. Foreigners rarely are victims of violent crime, let alone volunteers. However, there are few safety precautions you need to take care of. 


Patrolling is done by the police and occasionally by the army. Police in Mexico City and the federal police are the most reliable law enforcement agents. Local police are less reliable and it is advisable to interact with them as little as possible. Keep in mind that several police officers are corrupted and will expect bribes if any problem arises. 


The most common crime is pickpocketing. Keep your goods always within sight and in a place where you can monitor them. It is advisable to wear modest clothes and not try to over show expensive jewelry or watches. Keep your cellphone always in your pocket and take it out only when necessary. 


Try to go with somebody if you’re taking money from an ATM or riding a cab. If you’re taking a cab, make sure that it belongs to a taxi company. However, the safest option is to use apps like Uber, Didi or Cabify. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by IDEK (@world_cops) on

In case you’re a victim of an armed robbery, be cooperative. Armed thieves don’t hesitate to use violence, even for the smallest amounts of money or the oldest cellphone. However, this is a rare scenario. 


While most of Mexico is relatively safe, places which are better to be avoided include Mexico City suburban areas, Tamaulipas state and border cities (either on the Guatemala and US border).  While on your journey to Volunteer in Mexico keep in mind these informations.

Latest posts by XavierCarrera12 (see all)

Join The Discussion


Compare listings