Essentials for the Yucatán include sunscreen, sunglasses, and a billed hat. If you wear contacts or glasses, bring a replacement set. A good pair of shoes—or at least Teva-style sandals—are vital for exploring Maya ruins safely, and insect repellent definitely can come in handy. If you lose or forget something, Cancún , Cozumel , Playa del Carmen , and Chetumal  all have huge supermarkets, including Walmart.
While they may never approach neighboring Guatemala  for the sheer number of Spanish schools, Cancún and Playa del Carmen have good schools and private instruction available for travelers who want to learn the language. All are also well positioned to maximize travelers’ enjoyment of the area’s richness, whether its beaches, Maya ruins, or colonial cities.
Mexico has made many improvements for the blind and people in wheelchairs—many large stores and tourist centers have ramps or elevators. A growing number of hotels also have rooms designed for guests with disabilities. That said, Mexico is still a hard place to navigate if you have a disability. Smaller towns are the most problematic, as their sidewalks can be narrow, and even some main streets are not paved. Definitely ask for help—for what Mexico lacks in infrastructure, its people make up for in graciousness.
The Yucatán Peninsula  is a great place to take kids, whether youngsters or teenagers. The variety of activities and relative ease of transportation help keep everyone happy and engaged. Cancún  and the Riviera Maya  are especially family friendly, with several different ecoparks and water parks, miles of beaches, and (if all else fails) plenty of malls with movie theaters, arcades, minigolf, aquariums, and more. Perhaps best of all, Mexico is a country where family is paramount, so kids—even fussy ones—are welcome just about everywhere.
Solo women should expect a certain amount of unwanted attention, mostly in the form of whistles and catcalls. It typically happens as they walk down the street and sometimes comes from the most unlikely sources—we saw a man dressed as a clown turn mid–balloon animal to whistle at a woman walking by. Two or more women walking together attract much less unwanted attention, and a woman and man walking together will get none at all (at least of this sort—street vendors are a different story).
While annoying and often unnerving, this sort of attention is almost always completely benign, and ignoring it is definitely the best response. Making eye contact or snapping a smart retort only will inspire more attention. Occasionally men will hustle alongside a woman trying to strike up a conversation—if you don’t want to engage, a brief no, gracias should make that clear. To minimize unwanted attention, avoid revealing clothing—tight jeans, low-cut shirts, bikini tops—as street wear. Carrying a notebook—or creating the appearance of working—also helps.
Seniors should feel very welcome and safe visiting the Yucatán. Mexico is a country that affords great respect to its personas de la tercer edad (literally, people of the third age), and especially in the tradition-minded Yucatán Peninsula. But as anywhere, older travelers should take certain precautions.
The Yucatán, especially inland towns and cities, are known to be extremely hot and humid. May–July tend to be particularly intense. Seniors should take extra care to stay cool and hydrated.
Exploring the Maya ruins also can be hot, not to mention exhausting. Bring water and snacks, especially to smaller sites where they may not be commonly sold. Travelers with balance or mobility concerns should think twice about climbing any of the pyramids or other structures. They can be deceptively treacherous, with steps that are steep, uneven, and slick.
Cancún  and Playa del Carmen  have state-of-the-art hospitals, staffed by skilled doctors, nurses, and technicians, many of whom speak English. Most prescription medications are available in Mexico, often at discount prices. However, pharmacists are woefully undertrained, and you should always double-check the active ingredients and dosage of any pills you buy here.
While openly gay women are still rare in Mexico, gay men are increasingly visible in large cities and certain tourist areas. Cancún and Playa del Carmen both have a visible gay presence and a number of gay-friendly venues. Nevertheless, many locals—even in large cities—are not accustomed to open displays of homosexuality and may react openly and negatively.
Many hotel attendants also simply don’t understand that two travel companions of the same gender may prefer one bed—in some cases they will outright refuse to grant the request. Some couples find it easier to book a room with two queen-size beds and just sleep in one.
Make several copies of your passport, tourist card, and airline tickets. Whether you’re traveling solo or with others, leave a copy with someone you trust at home. Store one copy in a separate bag, and if you have a travel companion, give a copy to him or her. Be sure to carry a copy of your passport and tourist card in your purse or wallet and leave the originals in the hotel safe or locked in your bag; they’re a lot more likely to be lost or stolen on the street than taken by hotel staff.
When you move from place to place, carry your passport and important documents in a travel pouch, always close to your body and under your clothing. (Snatching a visible travel pouch is a lot easier than you’d think.) Write down your credit card and ATM numbers and the 24-hour service numbers and keep those in a safe place.