There are two questions everyone asks about travel in Mexico – can you drink the water, and is it safe to go there? Reports of kidnappings, drug-related violence and the swine flu give many people pause when it comes to planning a vacation in Mexico. But is it really safe to travel to Mexico? The answer is yes – as long as you avoid certain areas and use reasonable, common sense precautions.
Rather than trying to list all of the places in Mexico that are safe to visit, it is perhaps more helpful to list places that aren’t safe. First, check with the U. S. State Department website. If there’s anything of particular concern – whether it’s recent kidnappings or reports of new drug-related violence – the State Department will have it noted on their website. In addition, be aware that most media reports are designed to sell newspapers – not provide an unbiased picture of Mexico’s safety. Reports of murders sell more newspapers than reports of everyday, business-as-usual life.
In general, towns along the U.S. border with Mexico tend to be more dangerous than towns farther south, at least in terms of number of homicides. However, most of the homicides in these towns are directly tried to drug cartel activities. If you remove those homicides, then these towns are about as safe – if not safe – as any other city you might visit in the United States. In fact, there are some areas in Mexico, such as southern Baja California, that have overall incredibly low crime rates.
Which brings us to a good point – any city, anywhere in the world, can be dangerous. All cities have rough areas and areas where those who prey on others – especially tourists – can be found. Use the same caution in Mexican cities that you’d use in any large city. Avoid dangerous areas, dangerous persons and illegal activities, and you considerably increase your personal safety. And, it should go without saying, but don’t bring drugs into Mexico, purchase and use illegal drugs while in Mexico, or carry any weapons – even pocket knives.
In addition, do your best to use common sense when traveling. Travel during daylight hours and stick to legitimate tourist and business areas. Avoid unregistered and unregulated taxis, and don’t agree to sit through a presentation regarding a time share or vacation home.
The beaches of Mexico also deserve special mention. While most Mexican beaches are safe, be sure to observe any flags indicating there are rip tides or hazardous water conditions present. After all, it does little good to worry about potential criminal activity and ignore natural hazards.
Finally, avoid drinking to the point where you may find yourself making poor decisions. In towns well known for their nightlife, like Cancun and Cozumel, crimes against people commonly involve persons who have been drinking that travel in areas known to be unsafe after dark. With these precautions in mind, you’re sure to enjoy your Mexican vacation – and make it home in one piece!