I have been receiving a lot of questions on if its Safe To Travel To Mexico because of the recent Mexico travel warning. Although Mexico is filled with breathtaking coastal scenery, awe-inspiring ancient ruins, and charming colonial towns it has a bad reputation of being filled with crime and unsafe for travelers.
A security alert for Mexico has had many travelers extremely nervous about traveling south of the border. Mexico is an easily accessible, vacation destination for Americans.
Not only are some areas of Mexico indeed seeing the worst homicide figures in decades, but the country recorded its most violent year on record last year, ultimately pointing to an alarming rise in cartel activity. This prompted the U.S. State Department to up the ante on its travel advisories to the country early this year, placing five Mexican states on its highest Level 4 “Do No Travel” advisory under its newly revamped system.
Mexico is one of the most-visited countries in the world. In 2016, it hosted 35 million international tourists, cementing its place in the top ten countries for travel so many are wondering if it is safe to travel to Mexico in 2018.
Related Post: 7 Important Reasons Why People Travel
Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico?
But don’t let the overexaggerated news stories deter you from traveling to this vibrant Latin American destination. Aside from dangerous areas along the U.S. border and other regions where cartels operate, Mexico is mostly a safe country. In general, if you’re not taking part in illegal activities you don’t have anything to worry about.
Have you stopped going to the grocery store because of the crime in your city? Of course not!
What’s Changed in Mexico to Cause the Travel Advisory?
A travel advisory to Mexico has been in effect for a while, almost entirely due to criminal organizations and activity. However, the most recent update in August of 2017 added a few areas that were previously considered safe, including major tourist destinations like Baja California Sur (which is where you’ll find Cabo and La Paz) and Quintana Roo, home of resort towns like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Cancun.
Most people visit, travel around Mexico and enjoy themselves without incident.
In fact, Mexicans welcome foreign visitors with open arms. They’re a very friendly people who will go out of their way to help you. Many Mexicans speak English, especially in areas frequented by tourists. Although you will have a richer experience if you learn some Spanish you don’t have to because most folk will speak English.
These warnings are going into effect because of a spike in criminal activity, with homicides doubling and even quadrupling in some areas but remember these are very small areas of Mexico.
If you don’t go looking for trouble you probably will not find any trouble.
I visited Cabo San Lucas in late September and I felt completely safe not only at the resort but also as I ventured out into town. There is crime everywhere so we must use our common sense when traveling. There are a ton of beautiful resorts and boutique hotels in Los Cabo so please do not be afraid to travel to Mexico.
Click to read about my Top 5 Boutique Hotels in Cabo.
What You Need to Know about traveling to Mexico
Mexico has taken a few beatings recently. Earthquakes that have rocked regions close to Mexico City and recovery is still in process. This year’s colossal hurricane season also took a chunk out of Mexico’s disaster resources. Additionally, anti-Mexico sentiment under the current presidency shines a negative light on the country and strains relations between us.
If you’re worried about visiting a specific location, it pays to research that area before you book your travel. Join Facebook groups such as Cancun Mexico Travel, Tours, Tips, and Ideas that are dedicated to traveling to Mexico. Most areas and towns popular with expats and travelers will have their own page.
You can network with residents to gauge the level of safety and who better to give you the scoop on an area other than someone who lives there?
It’s important to understand that unrest in Mexico is largely funded by the drug trade and human trafficking, and authorities are constantly working to undermine the influence of cartels and minimize the damage to territory disputes. Again, take precaution when you visit any foreign country.
Keeping Yourself Safe in Mexico
Although a travel advisory is in effect, it’s important to remember that tourist flock to Mexico every year without incident.
The Mexican government is highly motivated to keep tourist safe in order to preserve the tourist trade but you must also do your part when asking is it safe to travel to Mexico.
Here are some precautions that you can take in order to make sure your trip goes as planned:
- Keep Your Nose Clean: As mentioned above, much of the criminal activity in Mexico revolves around the drug trade and sex trade. Although many Americans go south of the border to have a little fun remember the last thing you want is to end up in a Mexican Jail.
- When Driving, Stick to Main Roads and Daytime Travel: One of the most popular methods to extort money and protect cartel turf is through carjacks or roadblock ambushes. Avoid backroads and nighttime driving and hire taxis and driving services through the hotel where you’re staying.
- Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date about safety news through a few methods. First of all, talk with your travel agent and/or hotel concierge about safety updates, and where to go. They’ll have the most current read on the situation. As an American Citizen, you should also consider signing up for STEP, the Department of State’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program. This will sign you up for travel alerts, put you on the consulate and embassy’s radar, and make it easier to work things out if there’s an incident.
Use Some General Travel Savvy
Travel anywhere requires a little bit of a safety precaution. So, remember to enlist these general rules during your vacation and you will not have to ask is it safe to travel to Mexico :
- Leave a copy of your passport and itinerary with someone at home.
- Keep your valuables locked up when you leave the hotel.
- Learn the language as much as possible (This is not just for safety, but also for courtesy, which can actually keep you safer too!)
- Trust people who are invested long-term in making your stay a good one, like booking agents and hotel staff, and be on your guard with one-off opportunities. M
Mexico Travel Warnings
Guerrero, which includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo, is listed as “Level 4: Do Not Travel.”
The State Department warns that armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of the state and that members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.
Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, is listed as “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.”
The State Department says that “violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of this state.”
Nayarit, which includes Sayulita, is also listed as Level 3 with the same advice as for Jalisco.
Baja California Sur which includes Los Cabos is listed as “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.”
Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state, reads the advisory. “While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.”
Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum, is also listed as Level 2, with the same advice listed as in Baja.
Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca are also both listed as Level 2, with the advice to “exercise increased caution due to crime.”
To put things in perspective, Level 2 is the same tier of advice given to many other tourist hotspots, including Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Italy. I have been to the Dominican Republic, Belize, and Italy and never gave it a second thought. Why do we think Mexico is more violent?
Do you allow travel warnings to affect your travel decisions and do you think it is safe to travel to Mexico? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.