The U.S. State Department has recently expanded it’s Travel Warning to Mexico to include some of the county’s most popular vacation hotspots. Tourist destinations included the Riviera Maya, Cancun, and Los Cabos on the Pacific coast. The warning does not suggest not traveling altogether, but it does “warn U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.” The recent change has left some to wonder if it’s too dangerous to visit.
Mexico is visited by upwards of 25 million Americans per year, making it the most popular tourist destination for citizens looking to travel outside of the country. The massive resorts, all inclusive packages, cultural sites and big cities are especially attractive when coupled with cheap prices and easy access.
Ok, let’s get to the question. Is it too dangerous to vacation in Mexico. The answer to that is….”it depends”. Chicago is the murder capital of the country, yet there are many areas of the city that are perfectly safe and I wouldn’t think twice about going to. What I mean by this is, as long as you use common sense, your likelihood of being safe should stay in your favor. What are some common sense things to keep in mind? Oh I thought you’d never ask. Let’s review shall we.
Common Sense Rule #1 – Do your research. Most likely you’ll research 10 different places to eat, put in at least the same effort for safety. Although nothing is guaranteed and people do get caught at “the wrong place at the wrong time”, it certainly helps your chances.
Common Sense Rule #2 – Try to stay at or near the resort or resort sponsored tour. Most crime happens outside of the resorts, and although things do sometimes happen at the resorts, your odds are better just sticking close.
Common Sense Rule #3 – Try not to do any driving, especially at night. You could make it very easy to get yourself lost. Which then leads to a seedy neighborhood, which leads to you being being beaten, which leads you to waking up in a bathtub with your kidney missing.
Common Sense Rule #4 – Take it easy on the booze. This one is self explanatory. Don’t be like uncle Barry, drink 11 margaritas, end up in a small village 23 miles from the resort in his underwear, yelling at the locals about REO Speedwagon. The police report was very amusing. Keep in mind Mexican authorities seized over 10,000 gallons of alcohol at different resorts after allegations of tainted alcohol.
Common Sense Rule #5 – Enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to stay updated on conditions in your destination.
State Department warnings and alerts: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html
Well there you have it. Some quality tips to keep you and your family little safer. Thank you for stopping by. See you in Mexico!
14 thoughts on “Is It Too Dangerous To Vacation In Mexico?”
Hello there! I live in Los Angeles and me and my friends are planning to go on a trip to mexico. I heard that there are great resorts over there and I want to check them out and have fun. I heard that mexico is kinda dangerous because of the gangs and crimes and that made me worried and scared. I read your article and I found it very informative and helpful. I think just being safe in general is the key to be safe fro crimes. Thank you for sharing this.
This is a great post and very good advice.
I speak from experience as my own Father lost his life in Puerto Vallarta 15 years ago and it was partly due to his vulnerability after drinking too much alcohol. Mexico is a great place to visit if you stick to these rules.
I’m so sorry to hear about your father and thank you for the reply. I hope it’s helpful to someone, it’s easy for things to go wrong. Precautions can’t hurt.
My wife and I live in Texas near the southern border, right near the entrance point of Matamoros. We get asked this same question many, many times by our friends who come to visit us. We also give the same answers! This is great, sound advice that locals like myself would also give to anyone who may be worried about traveling across the border for a short time. Thank you for helping to spread the word!
Thanks Gareth, hopefully I’ll save you some time explaining to people however that is unlikely. We’ll just keep spreading the word.
I went to Mexico on a cruise from San Francisco all along the coast down to Acapulco about 10 years ago. I was so sad when the really bad crime outbreak started the next year and they started warning Americans about going to Acapulco in particular. There was also crime in other places we stopped due to drug trafficking. I agree with you though. If you are smart it should not be any more dangerous than traveling in the U.S. There are so many places here that can be dangerous too! People need to be smart and do their research.
Thanks Jessica, Can’t hurt for people to use common sense right?
Hi Lauren, great site! A lot of good info for those who are planning to travel. Your rule #4 is a very important one. A young man (Brent) in his twenties lost his life due to excessive drinking. He left behind a beautiful wife and a two year old daughter. He was at a bachelor’s party and had too much to drink. After leaving the party he got lost, only two blocks away from where the group was. He was found dead after having been beaten.
One other advice, always stay with your group or those you came with and the group doesn’t allow one to walk off by themselves – that’s what happened to Brent.
Thanks for the reply don. Being with a group of people that have your back is huge if you’re concerned about safety. Very true
I travel a lot and I totally agree with your suggestions. Safety is a mindset. Take Jamaica for example, it is perhaps the most dangerous country in the Caribbean, but it is also one of the most visited destinations. With Mexico, not everywhere is bad. Travelling in groups, not venturing outside the tourist areas (where the main hotels and restaurants are located), don’t travel around with all of your money or credit cards (leave some in the hotel safe), and just being mindful of everything you do and everyone you interact with are additional tips I would offer.
Thanks Kevon and I agree. Walking around with all or most of your money is leaving you vulnerable. No need to do that.
I’m not too sure what to make of the travel warning.
The fact of the matter is that the cartel doesn’t want to kill the tourists who visit these ‘dangerous’ places because tourist are their income source. I’m sure most will find this logic of mine bewildering but take a second and let it sink in.
The cartels are a lot smarter than most people will give the credit. Yes, they are cruel and should be avoided, but like you’ve clearly mentioned COMMON SENSE will go a long way.
There’s no reason why someone couldn’t travel to Mexico safely and have a great time. If your so worried about being attacked just stay at the resort. The resorts are well aware of the dangers outside and they have gone to extreme lengths to make it as fun as possible there.
Whenever i travel outside the country i always do my best to remain as polite as possible, treat everyone with respect, and never start fights. I’ve successfully been to 13 countries and have NEVER had an issue. It’s not worth it.
I’m not there to be jerk. I’m here to experience your culture and have a good time.
You sir are right on. Thanks Justin!
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