Is Mexico Safe? This is the question that thousands of travelers are asking as they prepare to descend upon Mexico for summer vacation.
For years I wouldn’t travel to Mexico because the U.S. media painted this horrific picture of Mexico – I believed Mexico was dangerous, I would be killed, Mexico wasn’t safe or I would be kidnapped and held for ransom by the cartel.
As my readers are planning their 2020 travels I have been receiving a lot of questions on is it safe to travel to Mexico and more specifically is Cancun Safe, Cabo San Lucas and is Mexico City safe because of the recent Mexico travel warning.
I am here to help you understand the Do’s and Dont’s of staying safe in Mexico and hopefully after reading my guide you will no longer be asking “Is Mexico Safe?”
When my readers ask me if Mexico is a safe place to go on vacation, my response is a resounding yes!
Safety is something you should be concerned about no matter the destination. Despite what the media is reporting in the media, thousands of people travel to Mexico without incident contrary to popular belief.
My Mexico safety guide will answer all of the following questions so you will plan your vacation accordingly:
- Overall Mexico safety
- Street safety
- Scams in Mexico
- Drug cartel
- Nightlife safety
- Transportation safety
- Women’s safety & Solo Travel
- Mexico Beaches
- Travel health
Is Mexico Safe -Mexico Travel Warning
Yes, it is safe to travel in most parts of Mexico, although you should exercise caution, just as you would in your home town or any other city in the United States.
The current U.S. political climate toward Mexico has caused both warranted and unwarranted safety and security concerns from U.S. tourist after the dismantling of the national Mexican tourism board in May.
In 2019 Mexico had the highest number of homicides in the country’s history, with 91 deaths per day but you must put those deaths into context. Most of the deaths in Mexico are due to fighting between cartels.
According to the U.S. State Department, 196 U.S. citizens died there with 67 murdered, 66 suffering an accident and 23 drowning.
While Mexico does suffer from high crime and homicide rates which are linked to the drug trade — most areas of Mexico are safe to visit, even for women traveling solo.
While these are isolated incidents I believe for the most part Mexico is safe but you must use common sense when traveling to any foreign country.
In May, YestoMexico, a U.S. nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate travelers about Mexico in order to encourage U.S. travelers to make Mexico their next vacation because it is safe to travel to Mexico.
If you ask yourself these simple questions before you arrive at your destination chances are you will not have any issues no matter the destination:
- How are you going to get from the airport to your resort?
- When you check into a hotel, did you lock your door and use the top lock?
- Do I have the number of the embassy?
- Have I filled out a form for the Department of State so they know that I am traveling?
- Have I notified family and friends of where you are going and what you will be doing?
Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico? Mexico Travel Warning
9.3 Million visitors travel to Mexico annually bringing in approximately 5 Billion dollars in annual revenue.
The Mexican government number one priority is keeping its visitors safe and happy to ensure those tourism dollars rolling in and to keep tourist areas free of crime.
The majority of visitors to Mexico DO NOT experience any crime because the highly populated touristy areas are heavily guarded by local police to ensure those areas remain safe but even with increased police security there has still been an uptake in criminal activity.
Keep reading as I dissect fact vs. fiction when it comes to criminal activity in Mexico.
Is Mexico Safe – Fact vs. Fiction
President Trump and the American media wants you, and everyone else to believe that Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and other countries where the majority of the population are black and brown people are the most dangerous places to visit and it’s simply not true.
There is no doubt that there has been horrible violence in Mexico due to drug wars between warring factions but that violence has, for the most part, are in isolated areas.
It is no different than you being in your own home town and crime is restricted to certain areas. If you don’t go looking for trouble you won’t find trouble.
Robberies and pickpocketing are pretty common in Mexico as it is in Rome and here in the U.S. but these random crimes can be avoided as long as you take common sense precautions.
Do not keep your money in your pocket, backpack or leaving your purse and camera equipment unattended making you easy prey for ciminals.
I can’t guarantee that nothing will happen but I also can’t guarantee you won’t get robbed as you are leaving your home but it doesn’t stop you from running errands, going to work, shopping or just hanging out.
My experience with Mexico has been nothing but pleasant. The people are friendly, family oriented, very religious and completely willing help and answer questions therefore I believe Mexico is safe.
Scams in Mexico
Be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for fake taxis, watered down drinks, car rental scams and foreign exchange scams are just a few of the scams you should be on the lookout for while in Mexico.
Most locals aren’t out to rob you or get over on you but you should always be careful and aware of your surroundings so you can avoid falling prey and becoming a scammer’s next lucrative customer.
The main area tourist is worried about is Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Riviera Maya.
The State Department recognizes that most of the crime in this region seems to be tied to criminal organizations “turf battles” between criminal groups which have resulted in an uptake of violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens.”
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 late last year, placing five Mexican states on its highest Level 4 “Do No Travel” advisory under its newly revamped system which is another reason why many are wondering is Mexico safe.
Mexico’s beaches overrun by algae
Another issue that has become an issue for Mexico, including Cancun and Cozumel is that the beaches are suffering from algae bloom.
The putrid macro algae, or sargassum, is being brought from somewhere between the Atlantic Ocean and Brazil by ocean currents.
I recommend that travelers work with reputable Mexico travel providers, who are constantly monitoring the situation so that they are more likely to stay at a property that has plans and the means to manage their beaches.
Beach Safety in Mexico
Avoid swimming at the beach when a black warning flag is posted. Cover your child with sunscreen or protective clothing before heading to the beach.
Mexican rays are intense and can lead to a severe burn or sun poisoning, especially during the warmer spring and summer months.
Is it safe to rent a car in Mexico?
For the most part, bus travel is the best way to get around in Mexico, but if you are anything like me I prefer to be on my own time and not have to wait on other people.
I like to explore and make up my itinerary as you go and those tour buses do not give me the freedom and they may not cover every place I want to see.
The Yucatan, for example, is especially suited to driving: Many beaches, barely developed ruins, and intriguing villages lie a good distance from the main road.
Highways are well-maintained, constantly being improved, and so straight that the slightest curve bristles with warning signs and reflectors.
It’s generally safe to drive in Mexico, but I suggest parking your car at night and don’t stay out too late.
Is the water safe to drink in Mexico?
Even the locals don’t drink the water in Mexico. The water table in the Yucatan is very close to the surface and is contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff. Even in the poorest sections, the corner store sells huge bottles of purified water.
You can buy bottled water anywhere, but when you buy water, make sure it is factory sealed to guarantee it is safe to drink. Crystal is one popular brand in the Mayan Riviera.
Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Most ice in the area comes from factories and is purified. If you are uncertain about the ice, ask your waiter.
Many travelers take risks with food and water. If you are on a long trip, being sick for a few days isn’t such a big deal.
If this is a week-long vacation, do you really want to spend half of it sick just because you were too lazy to get the bottled water when you brushed your teeth?
Kidnappings in Mexico
If you watch the American news you will believe kidnappings happen every 5 minutes in Mexico. Express kidnappings are used to obtain money by forcing their victims to empty their bank account. While this may happen occasionally this is not the Denzel Washington movie “Man on Fire”.
Taking precautions when withdrawing money at ATM’s and using licensed taxis can help reduce the risk of being kidnapped.
Women & Solo travel in Mexico?
I solo traveled to Cancun earlier this year for 7 days. Solo travel can be extremely liberating but you must do your research and make sure you understand the laws of the destination you are traveling because your safety is your number one concern.
Does Mexico have a bad reputation? yes, but so does Memphis and it doesn’t stop me from going home and it shouldn’t stop you from traveling solo to Mexico.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe in Mexico as a solo traveler and take the Mexico Travel Warning seriously:
- Assaults do happen. Remember DO NOT accept drinks from strangers because that is the main reasons why assaults happen.
- Know your surroundings. Don’t get lost and end up traveling down a back road own any sketchy roads.
- Be Nice. Mexican people are extremely friendly and there is no need to be nasty or rude.
Be aware of the travel warnings but don’t let the media scare you into thinking Mexico is this scary place and you will be killed if you travel alone.
Mexico has a wealth of culture, food, and adventure so do not miss out on traveling to this beautiful country.
Is Mexico safe for families with small children?
The beach resort area of Cancun and other Mexican cities are popular vacation destinations for families with young children and provides you with the opportunity to introduce your kids to a new culture, new food, and a different way of life.
Would I travel to Mexico?
While Mexico is an easily accessible vacation destination for many Americans I can understand why tourist are asking is Mexico Safe?
Let me assure you a Level 2 security alert simply means travel with caution due to increased crime. Unless you are traveling to Mexico looking for trouble you probably will not encounter any violence.
I can’t say this enough unless you’re looking for trouble in Mexico, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas all remain safe so do not allow the current Mexico travel warning scare you into not visiting Mexico.
If you use common sense and take reasonable safety precautions, you should have no hesitancy in visiting Mexico because Mexico is safe.
Yes, Mexico Is Safe
Aside from dangerous areas along the U.S. border and other regions where cartels operate, Mexico is mostly a safe country and in my opinion it is safe. I travel solo to Mexico a couple of times a year and I am still here alive and well.
In general, if you’re not taking part in illegal activities you don’t have anything to worry about.
To put things in perspective, Level 2 is the same tier given to many other tourist hotspots that have an uptake in criminal activity including the following countries:
Italy has the same level 2 warning so why is Mexico considered more violent?
Mexico Cities With Level 4 Travel Warnings
Traveling to Mexico in 2020
Remember, these warnings go into effect because of a spike in criminal activity but these warning are not for the entire country.
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.
I took a tour of the Arch, went sightseeing, Camel and Safari excursion and I felt completely safe exploring Mexico solo.
Do your research before traveling to Mexico
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 Is dedicated to traveling to Mexico and will help you and your family stay safe.
20 Tips To Keep 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 traveling to Mexico.
Traveling 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?
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 car jacks or roadblock ambushes. Avoid back roads 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 radar, and make it easier to work things out if there’s an incident.
- 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!) Remember the old saying you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- 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.
- Research your destination: Make sure you are up to date on the current travel warnings.
- Keep windows shut and doors locked in a car: especially at traffic lights
- Use first-class bus companies– these bus companies take toll roads which have security checks on passengers as they board.
- Don’t walk around by yourself late at night: You are asking for trouble.
- Be careful taking money out of the ATM: these are good spots to rob people.
- Use a money belt: Keep the thieves at bay.
- Don’t get scammed: If someone is asking you for your personal information will are likely scamming.
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry – looking like you are balling out of control will get you robbed. Leave your LV and Gucci in the states.
- Ask for hotel concierge: The hotel staff will be able to provide full tips about where to eat and what attractions you must see.
- Avoid getting DRUNK: you need to know where you are at all times.
- Don’t try to buy drugs: Don’t ask about buying drugs and don’t even think about buying drugs.
- DON’T travel at night: Most crime occurs at night.
- Only use well-known tour operators:Most of the cheaper tour operators will not have up-to-date equipment and experienced guides.
How To Keep Your Valuables Safe
Best Things To Do in Mexico
Mexico gets a bad rap; as I have discussed it’s not as dangerous as you think. However, like in any big city, you should use your common sense to prevent theft.
Check my top attractions while visiting Mexico!
1. Enjoy The Beach
With nearly 6000 miles of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Mexico is great for families, couples and solo travelers who love great beaches.
2. What To See In Mexico
Visit the Mayan archaeological sites of the Yucatan Peninsula which is one of the 7 World Wonders.
3. What To Do In Mexico
There are lots of opportunities for adventures in Los Cabos from snorkeling, kayaking, tequila tasting, to camel rides and so much more in Mexico.
Get your adrenaline rushing as you zip-line through the jungle or explore an underground river. You can learn to surf or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beach and ocean as you parasail.
4. What To Eat In Mexico
You can’t visit Mexico and not indulge in the local cuisine. If you think the only thing Mexico has to offer are tacos you are in for a treat.
Try traditional Mexican cuisines like mole, chiles rellenos, quesillo, tlayudas, and tamales and wash it down with your choice of tequila or mezcal!
5. Where To Stay In Mexico
While there is nothing wrong with staying at a huge resort, I personally prefer staying at a luxury boutique hotel because Mexico has some of the best hotels in the world.
I am a boutique hotel connoisseur so I have taken the guesswork out of finding not only the best resorts in Mexico.
Millions of people visit Mexico each year and 99% of travelers do not run into any trouble but the 1% that makes the news is all that you hear about.
Mexico is safe to visit so long as you stay out of trouble, take precautions, don’t buy drugs, and ladies do not allow men to buy you a cocktail and I don’t care how cute he is. BUY YOUR OWN COCKTAILS!
Do You Need Travel Insurance When Traveling To Mexico?
Mexico Travel Insurance
YES! Travel Insurance is important no matter where you are traveling to because accidents happen and you should always travel with insurance.
I got extremely sick in the Czech Republic last year and that was the one time I decided to forego travel insurance and I racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills and they wanted their money before I would even be seen by the ER Doctors.
PLEASE GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!
Cancun Travel Advisory Levels
Assistance for U.S. Citizens
Mexico, D.F., Mexico C.P.
Conclusion of Is Mexico Safe for tourists?
Keep in mind that bad things can anywhere not just in Mexico but I am sure there are crimes taking place right in your very own neighborhood.
No matter where you go in Mexico, follow the common-sense rules that are listed above like drinking only in moderation, getting a cab instead of wandering around after dark, and leaving your expensive watches and rings at home.
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Have you allowed the Mexico travel warnings to affect your travel decisions and are you still wondering is Mexico safe this summer?
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