Hey there, thinking of booking that dream getaway to Mexico? You’ve worked hard all year and deserve an escape to the sun and sand. But before you go clicking “purchase” on that flight and hotel package, there are a few things you should know.
Mexico has recently been in the news for increased gang violence and crime in some popular tourist destinations. The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for Americans traveling to certain parts of Mexico. Now don’t let this scare you off completely.
Millions of tourists visit Mexico every year and have an amazing, safe time. But you do need to be vigilant, do your research, and take some basic safety precautions to ensure your Mexican fiesta is more “olé!” than “oh no!”. Keep reading to find out what areas of Mexico the State Department is warning about, how to avoid trouble, and what you can do to minimize risks while living it up south of the border. Your dream vacay awaits – you just need to go in with your eyes open.
Travel Warning Mexico: What You Need to Know Before You Go
Understanding the State Department’s Mexico Travel Warning
The State Department warns U.S. citizens about travel to certain parts of Mexico due to crime. Their Mexico Travel Advisory covers the risks of traveling to each Mexican state. It’s a good idea to check the current advisory before your trip to understand the situation on the ground.
The advisory uses four levels of concern:
Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest level, indicating normal tourism is fine. Many major tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta are at this level.
Exercise Increased Caution: Due to crime. Parts of Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey are at this level. Exercise caution, avoid less touristy areas, and travel during daylight.
Reconsider Travel: Due to crime. The border states of Tamaulipas, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Colima are currently at this level. Only travel there for essential reasons.
Do Not Travel: The highest warning, currently in place for several states due to crime and violence. Traveling there puts your life at risk.
The specific warnings can change, so always check for updates on the State Department website before planning your vacation. While millions of tourists safely visit Mexico each year, you need to be vigilant about your surroundings, stay up to date on any current events, and avoid risky situations. If you exercise caution, do your research, and be aware of your surroundings, you can have a safe trip, even in locations under a warning. But for some areas, it’s really better to stay away altogether. Your life is worth more than any vacation.
Reviewing the Specific Locations Listed in the Warning
Once the State Department issues a travel warning for a country, it’s important to check which specific locations are listed to determine if your trip may be affected. For Mexico, several tourist destinations are called out that you’ll want to be aware of before you go.
Popular Beach Towns
Unfortunately, some of Mexico’s most popular beach towns are currently listed in the warning, like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta. This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t still visit, but exercise increased caution. Stick to tourist areas, don’t travel alone, and be vigilant of your surroundings. Also check with your hotel or resort about any additional security measures they have in place.
Border States and Major Cities
Parts of Mexican border states, including Tijuana, Mexicali, Juarez, Nogales, and Matamoros are also warned against due to criminal activity and gang violence. As well, Mexico City and Guadalajara see periodic upticks in crime that warrant extra precautions. If traveling here, register with the local US Embassy or Consulate, use only registered taxis or rideshares, and avoid being alone or out late at night.
Rural and Remote Areas
Some rural and remote areas of Mexico can be quite unsafe for tourists and are specifically called out in the warning. This includes highways and roads outside of major cities, as armed robberies, carjackings, and kidnappings have been known to occur. It is not advisable for tourists to drive long distances through unpopulated areas. If road travel is necessary, do so during daylight hours in a caravan if possible.
By reviewing the warning in detail and taking location-specific advice into account, you can enjoy your Mexico vacation with peace of mind. Just be proactive, alert and take normal travel safety precautions. With prudence and vigilance, many visitors continue to find Mexico’s natural beauty, culture, food and people make the trip worthwhile.
Assessing the Risks When Traveling to Mexico
As with any international travel, there are risks to be aware of when visiting Mexico. Assessing the risks and taking normal safety precautions can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
Crime and Violence
Mexico does experience higher rates of crime and violence than the U.S. and Canada. Exercise caution, especially in border towns and cities. Avoid traveling alone at night, don’t display valuables, and stay in well-trafficked tourist areas. Drug cartel-related violence is most active in Northern and Western Mexico. Check current events before your trip and avoid areas with recent incidents.
Health and Medical Care
Get necessary vaccinations like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and flu before your trip. Tap water is not potable, so drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes. Be very careful with food hygiene, especially when eating from street vendors. Medical care in Mexico varies in quality, so purchase travel health insurance and medical evacuation coverage.
The rainy season in Mexico runs from May to October, increasing the chance of hurricanes, floods and landslides. Check the weather forecast before your trip and be prepared to change your itinerary or shelter in place if a dangerous storm is approaching. Earthquakes also frequently shake Mexico, though most cause little damage. Follow instructions from local authorities in the event of a natural disaster.
Be very careful with illegal drugs as penalties for possession can be severe. Don’t buy or sell drugs during your trip. If arrested, ask to contact your embassy or consulate immediately. Driving in Mexico can also lead to legal trouble due to differences in traffic laws and insurance requirements. Consider renting a car with liability insurance and follow all posted signs carefully.
By doing thorough research beforehand, exercising caution during your trip, and avoiding risky situations, you can have a memorable vacation in Mexico with minimal worries. But be vigilant, trust your instincts, and don’t take unnecessary chances. If you do run into trouble, don’t hesitate to contact local authorities like the tourism police, or your embassy for guidance. Have a great trip!
Tips for Staying Safe When Visiting Mexico
When visiting Mexico, there are some important tips to keep in mind for staying safe. As in any foreign country, be aware of your surroundings, don’t display valuables, and try not to travel alone if possible. However, Mexico is a large country, and there are many areas that are perfectly safe for tourism if you exercise caution.
Stay in tourist areas
The majority of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations and resort towns experience very little crime. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Los Cabos, and Puerta Vallarta are considered very safe. Stick to these well-trafficked areas and avoid less populated spots.
Don’t drive at night
Driving in Mexico can be dangerous, especially at night. Only drive during daylight hours, and consider using taxis or rideshares after dark. Road conditions can be poor, and there is a higher risk of vehicle accidents and carjackings in the evening.
Petty crimes like pickpocketing and scams do occur in Mexico, so be on alert in crowded places like markets, bus stations and festivals. Carry only copies of your important documents, and minimal cash and cards. Watch out for unsolicited help from strangers, and don’t display expensive jewelry, electronics or large amounts of money.
Research any warnings
Check current events and official warnings from government websites like the US State Department before your trip. Certain areas of Mexico may be under advisory at times due to criminal activity. Follow any warnings and avoid restricted travel regions. Things can change quickly, so recheck warnings even shortly before departure.
Learn some Spanish
Trying to communicate in Spanish, even just basic phrases, can help you gain respect and connect with locals. It may also help you better understand any warnings or directions given in Spanish. Carry a translation guide or download a translation app to help in case of emergencies.
Following these tips and using common sense precautions, you can feel comfortable vacationing in Mexico’s popular resort areas. Mexico has much to offer visitors, so do some research to find spots that match your interests and comfort level. With the proper vigilance, you can gain all the rewards of this cultural destination while avoiding risks. Have a great trip!
What Travel Insurance Covers in Mexico
Travel insurance for Mexico will provide coverage in case of medical emergencies or trip interruptions. Policy details can vary between companies, but here are some of the basics of what travel insurance usually covers in Mexico:
If you get sick or injured on your trip, travel insurance will help pay for doctors visits, hospital stays, and medications. This includes coverage for pre-existing conditions if the proper plan is purchased. Make sure you understand details like deductibles, coverage limits, and what medical providers are in your insurance network before choosing a plan.
In the event of a life-threatening medical emergency, travel insurance will cover the high costs of emergency evacuation back home. This includes arranging and paying for air ambulances, medical escorts, and transportation to the nearest adequate medical facility.
If you have to cancel your Mexico trip due to illness, injury or other covered reasons like inclement weather or terrorist events, travel insurance can reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable trip expenses like hotels, tours and flights. Cancelation coverage is usually a percentage of your total trip cost.
Travel insurance provides baggage coverage in case your luggage is lost, stolen or delayed during your trip. Report any baggage issues as soon as possible to both the travel provider and your insurance company. Coverage limits can vary but typically range from $500 to $2,000 per person for most plans.
Reputable travel insurance companies provide 24-hour assistance services. This includes help with medical emergencies, emergency cash transfers, lost passport assistance, and general travel advice and information. These services can be invaluable in case of a crisis during your trip to Mexico.
Travel insurance gives you valuable peace of mind for your Mexico vacation. Compare plans carefully based on your trip details and personal needs. And remember, while travel insurance can’t prevent mishaps, it can help minimize the financial impact if something does go wrong. Travel safe!
Flying Safely to Mexico
When traveling to Mexico, your safety should be a top priority. As with any international trip, there are some precautions you should take, especially given the current travel warnings for parts of Mexico. However, don’t let that deter you from experiencing all the culture, food, beaches, and adventure that Mexico has to offer if you exercise caution.
Book Direct Flights
Book direct flights to Mexico instead of connections whenever possible. Direct flights minimize the risks of issues with connections or layovers in potentially unsafe areas. Major airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and United offer direct flights to popular tourist destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and Mexico City.
Stay in Tourist Areas
The U.S. State Department travel warnings primarily apply to certain parts of Mexico experiencing criminal activity and violence. Popular tourist areas are generally very safe. It is not recommended to travel to border towns, slums, or remote rural areas. Stick to major cities and resort towns like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and San Miguel de Allende.
Register with the U.S. Embassy
Once in Mexico, register with the U.S. Embassy or closest consulate. Provide them details about your trip itinerary and contact information. This helps the embassy contact or locate you in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. You can register on the State Department website or in person once you arrive in Mexico.
Exercise caution as you would in any unfamiliar place. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t display signs of wealth, and don’t venture out alone at night. Petty crimes do occur in tourist areas, so keep valuables secured and only carry copies of essential documents like your passport.
By taking normal travel safety precautions, you can feel comfortable traveling to and enjoying your Mexican getaway. The overwhelmingly majority of visitors experience a safe and memorable trip, so do your research, book smart, and don’t believe the hype and fearmongering. Mexico has so much to offer, so take that trip of a lifetime—you won’t regret it!
Driving Safety Tips for Mexico
Driving in Mexico can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Follow these tips to help ensure your road trip goes smoothly.
Don’t drive at night
Stick to driving during daylight hours. Nighttime driving in Mexico is not recommended due to poor road conditions, drunk driving, and high crime rates after dark.
Choose toll roads when possible
While toll roads cost money, they are safer and better maintained than free roads. The tolls are worth the peace of mind. If you do drive on free roads, proceed with caution, as they often have potholes, lack proper signage, and see more accidents.
Know the rules of the road
Brush up on Mexico’s driving laws before your trip. Some key things to know:
- Speed limits are lower than in the U.S. and Canada, so obey posted signs. Fines for speeding are steep.
- Seat belts are required for all passengers. Failure to wear one results in a fine.
- Drunk driving laws are strictly enforced, with a maximum blood alcohol content of 0.08%. Penalties include fines, license suspension and even jail time.
- Police officers may pull you over for no reason to check your papers. Don’t argue, just comply. Ask for the officer’s name and badge number in case of issues.
- In an accident, do not move your vehicle until the police arrive to document the incident.
Carry cash for bribes and emergencies
Unfortunately, police corruption in Mexico is common. Officers may threaten to issue a traffic ticket or even arrest you unless you pay them off. Have small bills handy in case a bribe becomes necessary, though we do not recommend paying them. Also carry cash for any roadside emergencies like tow trucks or repairs.
Assume other drivers may not obey the rules or be impaired. Watch out for drivers swerving, stopping abruptly or not yielding. Drive cautiously, especially in busy urban areas. Your life is worth more than any destination. Have a safe trip!
Securing Your Hotel and Activities
When traveling to Mexico, it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure your safety, especially when it comes to your hotel and activities. As with any foreign travel, be aware of your surroundings, don’t display valuables, and try not to travel alone.
Choose a reputable hotel
Do some research on travel review sites to find a well-rated hotel, ideally one that caters to tourists. Look for hotels with security features like guards, secured entryways, and possibly even room safes. When checking in, request a room off the ground floor for extra security. Don’t leave valuables like cash, electronics or jewelry out in plain sight in your room.
Book tours and activities in advance
Don’t just show up at an attraction and hope to find a tour guide or booking on the spot. Do some research ahead of time and book tours, activities and guides through reputable companies. Check reviews from other travelers to determine the best options. Booking in advance will give you peace of mind that you’ll avoid unsafe options or scams.
Stay in tourist areas
Try to avoid wandering into less populated areas of towns and cities in Mexico, especially at night. Stick to well-trafficked tourist areas where there are lots of people around. Don’t go off with strangers offering private tours or transportation. Only take taxis clearly marked with an official company logo and from designated taxi spots.
Watch out for food and drink safety
Be very careful with food and drink in Mexico to avoid getting sick. Only drink bottled or purified water and bottled drinks. Don’t drink tap water, fountain drinks, or have ice in your drinks. Choose cooked foods over raw foods and fruits you can peel. Watch out for unwashed vegetables and undercooked meat or seafood. If you do get sick, get medical help right away.
By taking some sensible precautions with your hotel, activities and health in Mexico you can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Just exercise caution, use common sense, and avoid risky behaviors that make you an easy target. Take normal travel safety measures as you would anywhere, and you’ll return home with memories of a great vacation rather than a trip to the hospital!
Travel Warning Mexico: Frequently Asked Questions
So you’re thinking about heading south of the border for some sun and margaritas, but you have some questions about the travel warning for Mexico. Here are some common FAQs to help put your mind at ease.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
For the most part, yes. Exercise caution, as you would when visiting any foreign country. Do your research and be aware of your surroundings. Some areas of Mexico do experience higher rates of crime, so check current events before your trip and avoid isolated areas. Stick to tourist destinations and you should have an enjoyable vacation.
What areas are safe?
Resort towns and tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are generally quite safe for travelers and see very little cartel-related violence. Larger cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara are also considered safe if you take normal precautions. Border towns and more rural areas tend to see higher crime, so they are best avoided.
What types of crimes should I worry about?
The most common crimes in Mexico are petty theft, pickpocketing and scams that target tourists. Be very cautious of your belongings in crowded places like markets, bus stations and festivals. Violent crime is rare, but does happen occasionally. Express kidnappings, where people are held until friends/family pay a ransom, have been reported. As always, don’t display signs of wealth and don’t travel alone if possible.
Do I need any vaccinations or documentation?
No vaccinations are required for travel to Mexico, but some are recommended like hepatitis A, typhoid, and flu. You will need a valid passport to enter Mexico – make sure it is up to date and won’t expire during your trip. Keep a copy of your passport in case it gets lost or stolen. You do not need a visa for tourist travel under 180 days.
Mexico has so much to offer visitors, from beautiful beaches and resorts to vibrant culture, history, food and natural scenery. Don’t let the travel warning discourage you, just be vigilant, do your research and enjoy your adventure!
So there you have it, the latest on the travel warnings Mexico and what you need to know before booking that beach getaway. While parts of Mexico can be dangerous, many tourist destinations are perfectly safe if you exercise caution. Do your research, check government warnings, and be aware of your surroundings. Mexico has so much to offer, from the beaches and resorts to the culture, food and natural beauty. Don’t let fearmongering convince you to miss out on experiencing all this vibrant country has to share. With some prudent planning, you can have an amazing and memorable trip south of the border. Viva Mexico! Now get out there and enjoy your adventure!