Travel Safety Mexico
…common sense trumps all…
If you’ve been watching the news recently, you can be forgiven for thinking that visiting Mexico requires you to pack a bullet-proof vest.
I’ll also forgive you for thinking about taking out some kidnapping insurance and triple checking all your luggage for being an unsuspecting drug mule.
Visiting parts of Mexico is safe.
But visiting others does require an army helmet and an ability to dodge bullets.
I love Mexico (the land, anyways).
I live here, and I hate the generalization about travel safety in the country.
For example, Playa Del Carmen is perfectly safe – especially the tourist areas of the cities.
In fact, it’s a lot safer than most US cities.
However, when visiting Mexico it’s important to travel safely.
Here are some quick tips:
Check For Travel Safety Warnings Before You Travel
The safety situation is different in each Mexican state.
Some seem more dodgy than a back alley in Baghdad.
Others, like the Yucatan Peninsula are very safe.
Before visiting Mexico, check if there are any specific Mexico travel warnings for your destination.
If there are travel advisory warnings for your destination in Mexico, then you should seriously consider whether you want to visit.
You should be especially cautious of any city or state that is on this list of the most dangerous in Mexico.
Remember, if the Mexicans say it’s dangerous, then it’s probably worth avoiding.
Basic Travel Safety In Mexico
If you were a criminal who would you target?
The guy with a massive wad of dollars on show in his back pocket?
Or the guy who blends into the crowd?
Think about it.
In Mexico it’s important not to advertise your wealth.
Why make yourself a target?
Keep your wallet hidden and in a hard to reach place.
Leave the expensive jewelry at home.
And don’t dangle your three-thousand dollar SLR around your neck all night.
I’ve seen tourists walking around with their wallets on show, literally counting out thousands of dollars of drinking money on the street.
Then they complain when they get hassled by local drug dealers!
Using ATMs In Mexico
Obviously it’s better to use plastic than carry around bags full of cash.
So that means visiting an ATM.
Make sure you choose a well-lit ATM.
- AND ONLY USE ATMs INSIDE OF BANKS
- Don’t choose ATMs on 5th Avenue, 10th Avenue, or inside any shopping centers – ONLY INSIDE BANKS!
Basic travel safety in Mexico also says that you should only get cash out during the day – or on a busy street at night.
There is usually safety in numbers.
Withdrawing $$$ to get a drunk 3:AM pizza might sound tempting, but isn’t wise unless it’s a very calm area.
Basic Safety At Hotels In Mexico
Most hotels in Mexico are great, and you won’t have any problems.
However, there are stories of dodgy places, particularly those in areas that have Mexico travel warnings.
- Keep your valuables in the safe and program the code yourself (ask the front desk worker for instructions).
- Make sure you keep your room locked – obvious really – and use the chain and peephole before opening.
- Make sure your balcony door is always locked
Don’t leave anything on show in your hotel room.
Basic common sense is always king.
Staying Safe On A Night Out In Mexico
Partying is one of Mexico’s best experiences.
But it can also be the most unsafe thing about the country.
On a night out don’t accept random drinks from strangers.
It might seem like a cheap way of getting drunk, but it can have expensive consequences.
- Don’t wander off alone at night.
- Organize a taxi to take you home.
- Definitely don’t be a macho douche bag and start picking fights with locals.
I’ve seen people do this and it doesn’t end pretty.
If the locals don’t get you the local police certainly will.
Travel Safety In Mexico Is Common Sense
Most problems for tourists stem from them not using their most basic social skill – common sense.
For example, in a place with no tourists, it’s good to keep a low profile.
Not blasting out your college football team’s theme tune.
Try and fit in with what you wear.
Nothing screams “target that tourist” more than sandals, short shorts, and a pair of expensive sunglasses.
Keep your valuables with you at all times.
Even if that means turning down a midnight skinny dip with a hot woman you meet in the beach bar.
How Do I Know If A Place Is Dangerous?
When you’re traveling in Mexico it’s always good to use your instinct.
If something or someone seems shady, then it probably is.
If you don’t feel safe, then get out.
Don’t hang around waiting for something bad to happen (although bad things rarely happen here).
Almost all trips to Mexico are incident-free.
Mexico is generally safe if you take basic precautions and avoid the hotspots.
Don’t get put off in Mexico.
Travel safely and you should be fine.
I’ve been here for over three years and nothing bad has happened to me.
Well, except for losing my swimming shorts when swimming with whale sharks…but that’s a whole other story…
I will see you here soon…
Lots of love,
It’s your turn. Do you have any advice or suggestions about traveling safely in Mexico? Please leave your comments below!