Mexico - is it safe?
I've been asked this often over the past few weeks so I wanted to chat a little about #Mexico. Not about the warm, sunny weather and beautiful beaches; we all know about those. But more so about the growing concerns among travelers regarding safety.
I came across an article in Travel Pulse that stated despite the U.S. State Department's “level 2” in the travel advisory system, Mexico continues to be the most-visited destination with more than 39 million international tourists in 2017 alone!
A level 2 travel advisory generally means travelers should “exercise increased caution”. We would have our heads in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge that Mexico has had its share of crime and violence and much of it well circulated on social media. However, I would like to point out that the U.S. State Department also issued a ranking of level 2 to Germany, France and the U.K and its worth noting that in 2018 the U.S. State Department has not issued any alert against travel to Mexico.
The Mexico Tourism board made a statement that most of the incidents are related to Mexican individuals and in the rare case a tourist has been involved, it has been related to involvement in suspicious activity. They do acknowledge this is a concern and are trying to be proactive to reduce risk and increase traveler’s confidence.
The advice I give to all my clients is regardless of where you travel be it Mexico, Scotland or even Disney World – exercise common sense. Crime can happen anywhere. Here are some tips to keep in mind during your vacation to Mexico. Some apply to any vacation.
· Pack light. The less valuables you take the better.
· Scan your passport and travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. If your documents are lost or stolen you can access them from your e-mail.
· Take your bank or credit card's international telephone number with you (the 1-800 numbers used in the United States don't work in Mexico).
· Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home and be careful about sharing too much information with strangers.
· Although credit cards are the most convenient, have a backup plan and take cash.
· Do not carry excessive amounts of cash while out and about. Take only what you will need and store the rest in the hotel safe.
· Don’t stand out as a tourist! What? But I am a tourist! Yes, but you don't have to carry the big camera and guide book. Try to blend in and be discreet. Store the camera in a bag and most important do not get so distracted looking at the guide book that you loose site of your surroundings.
· If you need to go to an ATM make sure its during the day and in a well populated area.
· Be extra vigilant while in large crowds such as in markets. One person may be distracting you while the other is picking your pockets.
· And the most important advice: DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. This goes for anywhere you travel to. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean common sense go out the window.
All in all, I tell my clients don’t let fear hold you back from experiencing the wonderful adventure of travel. Crime can happen in our backyard! The key is to be well informed, cautious and use a travel professional (I happen to know of an excellent one) that can help you with selecting hotels, transportation and excursions to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Happy travels!