Mexico is a popular destination for lots of American travelers. The country’s tropical allure, pristine beaches, thrilling nightlife, and proximity make it an ideal travel destination. Mexican towns like Cancun and Tulum have become go-to destinations for spring breakers and family-vacationers alike. Although Mexico is a well-known vacation destination, it is not completely safe – no place is – and with rising crime rates travelers should take the necessary precautions before traveling. Here are six safety tips for traveling to Mexico.
1. Learn Basic Spanish
Before traveling to Mexico it is helpful to learn some basic Spanish. Knowing the local language will allow you to navigate the city easier and makes you less of a target for crime. You don’t need to be fluent but if you can understand a few key words or phrases it could potentially save your life you in a dangerous situation.
Learning basic Spanish is made accessible with language learning applications like Duolingo. You can download the app in order to practice before traveling to Mexico. Additionally, the Google Translate App can help keep you safe and aware. The app has a voice-to-voice and camera feature which can translate languages to English in real time. This could be helpful in various situations.
2. Only Carry the Necessary Amount Of Cash
No matter where you are traveling, it is wise to only carry a small amount of cash. You should only carry the amount that you will need for that day and store the remainder in the safe of your hotel room. Petty theft and robbery are known for happening in places like Mexico City. To avoid being a victim of crime, keep small amounts of cash in a money belt worn underneath your clothing.
Additionally, keeping your cash in different places on your person can be helpful in the case that you do become a victim of crime. Remember to keep some cash in your money belt and two to three other places on your person. Some other places you can store cash are in a hidden jacket pocket or even your shoes.
3. Keep Your Valuables Hidden
While traveling it is important to keep your valuables discreetly hidden. Specifically, DSLR cameras and new mobile phones could potentially attract thieves. During your trip to Mexico, it is best to not display any signs of wealth. Wearing expensive watches or jewelry could potentially make you a target of crime.
If you’re traveling with expensive devices remember to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your valuables. Petty theft and robbery are common crimes committed against tourists when traveling to Mexico. Although violent incidents involving tourists don’t always result in death, the country experienced its highest homicide rate ever in 2018 with 33,341 homicides recorded. To avoid potentially dangerous situations, it is best to keep your valuables out of plain sight.
4. Where To Go – Safest Cities in Mexico
The following areas are considered low risk and safe places for tourists to visit: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and San Cristóbal de las Casas, Cabo San Lucas in Baja California and Cancun. These destinations are known to be well-secured tourists areas. Venturing outside of these areas could be potentially dangerous. However, if possible, it is best to stay within the grounds of an all-inclusive resort. These types of hotel accommodations typically have various entertainment, activities, and restaurants so that you do not need to leave. If you decide to leave the resort then it should be before dark.
Additionally, the United States Department of State advises avoiding travel to the following five Mexican states: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas. These areas are known for their increased risk of crime and kidnappings. The department also warns travelers to remain vigilant at all times, avoid driving at night, and to exercise extreme caution at bars and nightclubs.
5. Exercise Caution While Consuming Alcohol and Food
Indulging in local cuisine is an enjoyable part of traveling but it is important to remain aware of the food and alcohol you’re consuming at all times. To prevent unwanted illness, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises travelers visiting Mexico to get a hepatitis A vaccine. Additionally, if you are staying at resorts in Cancun it is important to regulate your alcohol intake and never leave your drink unattended. Over the years, there have been multiple reports of tourists blacking out drinking unregulated alcohol at various resorts across the country.
The CDC also recommends to only consume food from reputable restaurants to avoid traveler’s diarrhea or a serious case of food poisoning. You should only consume food that has been thoroughly cooked and is served hot. Try to avoid foods like salad or raw vegetables which may have been prepared using contaminated water. Water should be filtered or purified and only consumed from a sealed bottle.
6. Only Use Official Cabs
If your travels take you to Mexico City, you should only use official taxis known as Taxis Autorizados by locals. Hailing cabs in the street can be dangerous and are best avoided. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel to call a cab for you. In this case, the hotel should take note of the taxi’s number and the driver’s information.
When traveling to any destination it is always a good idea to take extra precautions when using taxis. We recommend taking a note or picture of the taxi’s number or license plate before getting in. To ensure that you feel safe, share the taxi information or picture with a friend or family member in case of an emergency. Additionally, also keep a note (written and digital) or the local emergency numbers. In Mexico, the emergency number is ‘911’.
Is Mexico Safe for Tourists?
Cancun, Mexico has long been a popular vacation destination for American travelers. 35 million Americans visited the Caribbean country in 2017 alone. It’s a tropical paradise within only a few hours of many US cities.
Planning for your safety is just as important as planning for your vacation excursions. If you’re heading to Mexico soon, remember to thoroughly plan how you and your travel companions will remain safe during your visit.