Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico
I love Mexico. It is one of my favorite countries to visit. I love the people, I love the weather, I love the beaches, and of course, I love the food. However, if you are a US citizen you hear a lot of warnings about traveling to Mexico. Each time I tell my friends and family we are planning another trip my emails are swamped with messages containing the latest news articles or travel alerts from loved ones warning me how unsafe it is.
Is travel to Mexico unsafe? From my own experiences, I have never felt unsafe while in Mexico, but I think like many countries the answer is parts of it are. Even travel here in the USA I would say there are areas I would caution people before visiting. The more important question in my mind is, “What can I do to stay safe while traveling?” Below are some of my tips.
The first thing I recommend is checking with the Department of State to see what type of advisory is issued to the area you want to travel to. You can find that information by visiting this link here.
If your destination is listed as a 1 or a 2 advisory continue with the precautions below. If your destination is listed in the 3-category read the warnings and make an educated decision based on the facts. Level 3 restrictions strongly encourage travelers to reconsider their trip. If your destination is a level 4 this means the US Department of State has issued a do not travel warning.
If you do decide to move forward with your trip some tips to stay safe include:
- Avoid driving alone at night
- Stay on toll roads and well-traveled highways
- If you are staying at a resort or hotel ask them to recommend cab service and transportation
- Never get in a “gypsy” cab or unmarked cab service
- Allow your resort to recommend or book trusted tours.
- Do not flash money or expensive jewelry
- Keep an emergency credit card and cash in a safe place away from your other money. For example, if you are a woman carrying a purse (or a man with a wallet) keep an extra card or cash in a pocket, hidden money belt, sock, etc. This way if your purse or wallet is stolen you will still have a backup plan.
- Use the hotel room safe if they have one.
- Do not walk alone at night
- Make sure your family or trusted friends have your itinerary so they know where you plan to be and when you plan to return home.
- Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans. This will help you avoid a surprise block on your cards due to suspected fraud.
- See your DR. prior to your trip. Tell them where you are traveling to and if they recommend you bring any medications. My Dr. always sends me with anti-nausea medications and an emergency supply of antibiotics in case I contract dysentery (which I have! Trust me, it is not fun.)
- Pack extra medications if you take prescription drugs. You never know when an unexpected delay can happen so try to pack at least an extra weeks’ worth of medications.
The STEP Program
The STEP program is The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
By enrolling before your trip you will receive the following benefits from this program:
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
This is a free service and is very easy to register for. You can learn more by clicking here.
Buy Travel Insurance
Most people think travel insurance is just to help with missed flights or lost luggage. The real benefit of travel insurance, in my opinion, is the health options it offers. If you are hurt or hospitalized in a foreign country, your health insurance will most likely not do you any good. Having travel insurance with health coverage can reimburse you for many things, including evacuation to your home country or a better hospital than where you may have been taken to initially. Research your options and what coverage is available to you. You can read more about travel insurance on my earlier post Is Travel Insurance Worth It? Or click on one of the links below.
Keep Important Information With You
Keep a copy of your passport and a list of important contacts with you at all times. I use my phone to keep photo backups of my credit card, my passport, my travel itinerary and important numbers. Make sure your phone has a locked screen so if your phone is stolen it is not easy for the thief to gain access to that information. I also keep paper backups of each item listed above in case my phone is lost or stolen.
Below are some important numbers you should have.
U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
Mexico, D.F., Mexico C.P.
American Citizen Services: 01 800 681 9374 (toll free in Mexico) / 81 4160 5512 (from within Mexico) / 844 528 6611 (toll free in the U.S.)