Is Mexico Safe For Travelers Or Not?
So many people interested in visiting Mexico look at Mexico travel warnings and end up thinking that the country is not at all safe. Mexico does have a bad rep and the media does not help.
The truth is that Mexico is a wonderful travel destination for couples, solo travelers, spring breakers and even adventure travelers. This is actually a really well-known thing but the US political climate is really aggressive towards Mexico. The tension led to many unwarranted security and safety concerns. Unfortunately, travelers now doubt whether they should visit the country or not.
How Safe Is Mexico?
Almost 10 million visitors go to Mexico every single year. This brings in around 5 billion dollars. Due to this, it is completely normal that the Mexican government invests in security and wants more travelers to come.
The vast majority of tourists to Mexico do not have a problem with crimes since the touristy areas are really well guarded.
Facts Versus Fiction – The Perceived Safety Of Mexico
The US media and President Trump wants people to think that destinations like Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are not safe. In fact, such warnings exist for many countries where most of the population is made out of brown and black people. This is completely incorrect.
In Mexico there were many violent crimes because of the drug wars that happen there. However, these are happening in some isolated areas. This is not different than the city you live in, where crime is, most likely, restricted to a specific area.
Pickpocketing and robberies are just as common in Mexico as they are in Italy or the UK. Most random crimes are easily avoided when taking common sense precautions, like not leaving your backpack accessible to the criminals.
In most tourist areas, people are family oriented, friendly, religious and willing to answer questions or just help.
Mexico Travel Warnings
On November 15, 2018, the US issued a security alert for Mexico, with level 2 being mentioned, on a rating of 1 to 4. This practically means that you should travel with caution because crime rates increased.
Then, because of the fact that drug wars were prevalent and many conflicts were recorded, the US State Department decided to up the warning to level 4. This means “Do Not Travel”.
Tourists are normally worried about the Quintana Roo State. This is where very popular travel destinations can be found, including Cozumel, Cancun, Tulum, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen. In these areas even the US State Department recognized that most crimes are connected to turf battles happening between various criminal groups.
Mexico Is Safe
Mexico is a really safe country, with the exceptions being the border with the US and regions where the drug cartels operate.
We have to understand the fact that level 2 warnings are a lot more common than you think. It is just that the media highlights the one for Mexico. Level 2 warnings were also issued for countries like Belize, Belgium, United Kingdom, Brazil and Italy.
Few people wonder if Italy or the UK are safe, but they do worry about Mexico since news about safety tend to be exaggerated.
Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico?
Most tourists do not have a single problem when they go to Mexico. This is because it is such a friendly country. So many Mexicans do speak English, especially where tourists often visit.
Mexico travel warnings are issued because there are spikes in criminal activities. However, these affect just small parts of the country. If you do your research and you work with reputable travel agencies, nothing bad will happen.
Obviously, you can get mugged as you go to the supermarket so risks do exist when you travel. You have to exercise caution on every trip, not just to Mexico.
Safety Tips When Traveling To Mexico
Even if travel advisories are in effect and they will most likely not go down in the near future, tourists still visit Mexico and the number of incidents is lower than in other countries with higher travel advisories.
The current Mexican government does want to keep all tourists safe. This preserves trades and brings in a lot of money. However, it is also up to you to play your part. With this in mind, here are some precautions anyone should take when traveling to Mexico:
- Do not take drugs
So much of the criminal activity in the country revolves around the sex trade and drug trade. There are US travelers that just go to Mexico to have illegal fun. Do not do this and you can avoid a lot of trouble.
- Drive during the day and on the main roads
Always avoid nighttime driving and backroads. If you want to hire a driving service or a taxi, do so through the hotel where you stay.
- Keep all valuables locked up as you leave your hotel
- Leave a copy of your itinerary and your passport with a person you trust at home
- Research the destination
This includes knowing as much as possible about travel warnings and potential dangers.
- Be careful during the night
Do not walk alone when late at night.
- Be careful with ATM machines
Choose those that are in secure places and always take money out during the day.
- Do not wear jewelry
This is really good advice no matter where you travel to.
- Do not get drunk
When you are drunk you can easily forget where you are and end up in unsafe situations.
- Do not travel during the night
Most crimes in Mexico happen during the night.
- Do not accept drinks from strangers
This is how most assaults in Mexico start.
- Always be nice
Mexicans are really friendly so there is absolutely no need for you to be rude or nasty.
Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico With Small Children?
Cancun is just one of the numerous really popular Mexican cities for families that travel with young children. This is a great place to introduce a child to new food, a brand new culture and a new way of living. However, caution is definitely always needed.
If you are at the beach, you need to carefully watch your child. Never swim when the black warning flag is up and be sure that the child is covered with sunscreen. The sun in Mexico is really strong and the child can easily end up with a severe burn.
Car Rental Safety When Visiting Mexico
Usually, bus traveling is the recommended way to visit Mexico. However, there are countless individuals that want to rent a car.
If you want to rent a car and explore Mexico, the best thing you can do is to do so just from the reputable agencies, those that have the best online reviews. Also, when you have to park the car for the night, do it as close as possible to you. Do not stay out late and avoid driving during the night.
Drinking Water In Mexico
It is important to know that locals do not drink water in the country. For instance, the Yucatan water table is quite close to the surface. This makes it contaminated due to runoff and garbage dumps.
All throughout Mexico you can find stores that sell bottled water. This is the case even in really poor areas. A popular local brand is Crystal. If you do buy water, be sure that it is sealed.
Bottled water should also be used for brushing teeth. Also, do not add ice to your drinks unless you are certain about quality. If the ice is made out of local water, it can be dangerous.
There are way too many travelers than there should be that take unnecessary risks with water and food. You do not want to get sick and stay like that for most of your trip, right?
Get Travel Insurance
Last but not least, travel insurance is something that you need when you go to any country in the world. Accidents can happen without any warning. Look at the policies that are available for you and choose the one that is the best, according to the part of Mexico you travel to. Also, if you do get travel insurance, know exactly what is covered and what is not.
Featured Image Editorial credit: carlos.araujo / Shutterstock.com