What to know about traveler safety in Mexico following recent episodes
Photo by Tania Fernandez on Unsplash

Mexico is a diverse and attractive destination, as a reader recently wrote in to articulate. There’s a ton to do, see and eat across the border. But if you have concerns about your safety in Mexico, you’re not alone. A few recent and scary episodes inspired Laura Begley Bloom to write a story called “Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico?” for Forbes, and it’s worth reading if you’re thinking of traveling to Mexico this year.

“Last year,” she writes, “Mexico had the highest number of homicides in the country’s history, with an average of 91 deaths a day — and 2019 is on track to break the record.” Areas near the border, especially, but even in traditional tourist draws like Acapulco and Los Cabos, as well, have seen their share of incidents and even deaths. The statistics are “grim,” in her words, but it’s important to note that Mexico is easily number-one among countries visited by Americans.

In the story, Bloom speaks with risk assessment firms and reps from major travel companies, which are “showing their confidence in the country.” She also quotes Carlos Barron, a “25-year veteran of the FBI” and “a real-life version of Liam Neeson in the movie Taken.” “When I’m asked if Mexico is a safe place to go travel on vacation,” Barron says, “my response is yes.”

Barron says that “the biggest danger if you’re traveling to Mexico is not the drug cartel violence, but rather, being too distracted while you’re on vacation and doing things that you wouldn’t do at home. ‘I know it seems like — 25 years in the FBI and this is what you’re telling me? But at the end of the day, personal safety comes down to common sense,’ says Barron.”

Tips for safety in Mexico

More than 44 million people are expected to travel to Mexico this year, which is nearly 6% higher than 2018’s figure. If you plan to be among them, or to go next year, Bloom’s story is worth reading.

And maybe the best part of the story is at the bottom, where she compiles tips for travelers to Mexico. A few of the tips are below. For the rest, and for the full write-up, see the Forbes story here.

  • “Have emergency telephone numbers in your cell phone and your WhatsApp. Don’t just land in the airport, take an Uber to your hostel and start exploring. Take time to think.” — Carlos Barron, US Traveler Assist
  • “Travelers should take the time to inform themselves about the destinations they intend to visit. Do your research to understand the local health and safety situation. Drug-related crimes are more prevalent in the north and northeastern parts of Mexico close to the border with the U.S. Banditry along highways is also a big security risk, particularly in the southern parts of the country. Mexican security forces carry out regular patrolling on these roads to prevent criminal activities, but coverage remains inadequate and travelers remain vulnerable in isolated and remote highways, particularly at night.” — Adam St. John, Sitata
  • “Machismo culture still prevails in some parts of the country and women may receive unwanted attention from men, ranging from open displays of catcalling and staring to physical groping, including in daytime. It is best to ignore these advances or confrontations and walk away. Dressing down and being more low-key, especially outside cities, can help avoid unwanted attention as well.” — Suzanne Sangiovese, Riskline

The U.S. State Department on safety in Mexico

“The U.S. State Department currently has a travel advisory warning for Mexico with a level 2 on a scale of 1 to 4, meaning ‘exercise increased caution.’ But some parts of Mexico where drug cartel violence is at its worst are on a no-go list, with a level 4 advisory for locations like Michoacán (where the most recent murders took place), Guerrero and Sinaloa.”

See the State Department’s Mexico page here.


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