Is Mexico Safe? Mexico Travel Warning and Safety Guide {May 2019}

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For years I wouldn’t travel to Mexico because like you, I had been told Mexico was dangerous, you will be killed, Mexico isn’t safe or you will be kidnapped and held for ransom by the cartel.  Despite these concerns Mexico is a favorite for spring breakers, couples, families, and the all-important girls trip because of the people, the food, the beaches, the Mayan history, traditions, and did I say food?

As my readers are planning their summer travels I have been receiving a lot of questions on is it Safe To Travel To Mexico because of the recent Mexico travel warningAlthough Mexico is filled with breathtaking coastal scenery, awe-inspiring ancient ruins, and charming colonial towns it has a bad reputation of being filled with crime and unsafe for travelers but I am here to make sure you are safe in Mexico and after reading my guide you will no longer be asking “Is Mexico Safe?” and specifically “Is Cancun safe for travel in 2019?”   

I will also discuss the safety of other Caribbean countries specifically the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas as they are recently seen an uptake in criminal activity as well.

My Mexico safety guide will answer all of the following questions: 

  • Should you ever travel to Mexico?
  • Is the U.S. is overreacting with recent travel warning?
  • Is it safe to leave your resort?
  • Is public transportation is safe?
  • Is safe to travel to Mexico with your kids?

Whatever your concerns, my guide will have prepared to travel to Mexico and other Caribbean countries without worrying if you are going to get kidnapped or killed.  

is Mexico safe

How Safe Is Mexico

9.3 Million visitors travel to Mexico annually bringing in approximately 5 Billion dollars in annual revenue.  The Mexican government number one priority is keeping its visitors safe and happy to ensure those tourism dollars rolling in and to keep tourist areas free of crime.

The majority of visitors to Mexico DO NOT experience any crime because the highly populated touristy areas are heavily guarded by local police to ensure those areas remain safe. 

Are you still skeptical about Mexico and worried about how safe Mexico really is?

Fact vs. Fiction (Is Mexico Safe)

President Trump and the American media wants you, and everyone else to believe that Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and other countries where the majority of the population are black and brown people are the most dangerous places to visit and it’s simply not true.

There is no doubt that there has been horrible violence in Mexico due to drug wars between warring factions but that violence has, for the most part, are in isolated areas.  It is no different than you being in your own home town and crime is restricted to certain areas.  If you don’t go looking for trouble you won’t find trouble. 

Robberies and pickpocketing are pretty common in Mexico as it is in Rome and here in the U.S. but these random crimes can be avoided as long as you take precautions like not keeping your money in your pocket, backpack accessible to criminals, or leaving your purse or camera equipment unattended.

I can’t guarantee that nothing will happen but I also can’t guarantee you won’t get robbed as you are leaving your home but it doesn’t stop you from running errands, going to work, shopping or just hanging out.  

My experience with Mexico has been nothing but pleasant.  The people are friendly, family oriented, very religious and completely willing help and answer questions.

Mexico Travel Warning

The U.S. issued a  Level 2 security alert for Mexico on November 15, 2018, and has many travelers extremely nervous about traveling south of the border.  Mexico is an easily accessible vacation destination for many Americans so I do understand why tourist are asking is Mexico Safe?  

A Level 2 security alert simply means travel with caution due to increased crime.  Unless you are traveling to Mexico looking for trouble you probably will not encounter in violence, therefore, I can’t say this enough unless you’re looking for trouble in Mexico, you shouldn’t have any issues.  

Mexico Travel warning

What Does The Mexico Travel Warning Mean For You?

The main area tourist is worried about is Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Riviera Maya. The State Department recognizes that most of the crime in this region seems to be tied to criminal organizations “turf battles” between criminal groups which have resulted in an uptake of violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens.”

Not only are some areas of Mexico indeed seeing the worst homicide figures in decades, but the country recorded its most violent year on record last year, ultimately pointing to an alarming rise in cartel activity. This prompted the U.S. State Department to up the ante on its travel advisories to the country late last year, placing five Mexican states on its highest Level 4 “Do No Travel” advisory under its newly revamped system.

Since Mexico is one of the Top Ten countries for travel this has left many tourist wondering is it safe to travel to Mexico this summer.

Yes, It’s Safe To Travel To Mexico

But don’t let the overexaggerated news stories deter you from traveling to this vibrant Latin American destination. Aside from dangerous areas along the U.S. border and other regions where cartels operate, Mexico is mostly a safe country. In general, if you’re not taking part in illegal activities you don’t have anything to worry about.

To put things in perspective, Level 2 is the same tier given to many other tourist hotspots that have an uptake in criminal activity including the following countries:

I have been to Belize, and Italy and I have never wondered is it safe to travel to those countries.   Are you concerned about traveling to Italy?  Italy has the same level 2 warning so why is Mexico considered more violent and why are you asking will you be safe traveling to Mexico?

Which Cities Have Travel Warnings

Level 4: Do Not Travel

  • Guerrero, which includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo

Level 3: Reconsider Travel

  • Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta

Level 3: Reconsider Travel

  • Nayarit, which includes Sayulita, is also listed as Level 3 with the same advice as for Jalisco

“Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

“Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

  • Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum, is also listed as Level 2, with the same advice listed as in Baja

“Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

  • Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca are also both listed as Level 2, with the advice to “exercise increased caution due to crime.”

Mexico Safety

Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico Right Now?

Most people visit and travel around Mexico without incident and I am one of those people who just returned and I had the time of my life.

Mexico is a very friendly country and many Mexicans speak English, especially in areas frequented by tourists. Although you will have a richer experience if you learn some Spanish you don’t have to because most folk will speak English and you will be just fine so no worries whatsoever about a language barrier.

Remember, these warnings go into effect because of a spike in criminal activity but these are in very small areas of Mexico. 

I visited Cabo San Lucas in late September and I felt completely safe not only at the resort but also as I ventured out into town, took a tour of the Arch, sightseeing, and I felt completely safe.   There is crime everywhere so we must use our common sense when traveling.

Do Your Research

If you’re worried about visiting a specific location, it pays to research that area before you book your travel. Join Facebook groups such as Cancun Mexico Travel, Tours, Tips, and Ideas that are dedicated to traveling to Mexico and will help you and your family stay safe.

Fun activities in Mexico

23 Tips To Keep Yourself Safe in Mexico

Although a travel advisory is in effect, it’s important to remember that tourist flock to Mexico every year without incident.

The Mexican government is highly motivated to keep tourist safe in order to preserve the tourist trade but you must also do your part when traveling to Mexico. Traveling anywhere requires a little bit of a safety precaution. So, remember to enlist these general rules during your vacation and you will not have to ask is it safe to travel to Mexico:

Here are some precautions that you can take in order to make sure your trip goes as planned:

  1. Keep Your Nose Clean: As mentioned above, much of the criminal activity in Mexico revolves around the drug trade and sex trade. Although many Americans go south of the border to have a little fun remember the last thing you want is to end up in a Mexican Jail. 
  2. When Driving, Stick to Main Roads and Daytime Travel: One of the most popular methods to extort money and protect cartel turf is through carjacks or roadblock ambushes. Avoid backroads and nighttime driving and hire taxis and driving services through the hotel where you’re staying.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date about safety news through a few methods. First of all, talk with your travel agent and/or hotel concierge about safety updates, and where to go. They’ll have the most current read on the situation. As an American Citizen, you should also consider signing up for STEP, the Department of State’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program. This will sign you up for travel alerts, put you on the consulate and embassy’s radar, and make it easier to work things out if there’s an incident. 
  4. Leave a copy of your passport and itinerary with someone at home.
  5. Keep your valuables locked up when you leave the hotel.
  6. Learn the language as much as possible (This is not just for safety, but also for courtesy, which can actually keep you safer too!)  Remember the old saying you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. 
  7. Trust people who are invested long-term in making your stay a good one, like booking agents and hotel staff, and be on your guard with one-off opportunities.
  8. Research your destination: Make sure you are up to date on the current travel warnings. 
  9. Keep windows shut and doors locked in a car: especially at traffic lights
  10. Use first-class bus companies – these bus companies take toll roads which have security checks on passengers as they board.
  11. Don’t walk around by yourself late at night: You are asking for trouble.
  12. Be careful taking money out of the ATM: these are good spots to rob people. 
  13. Use a money belt: Keep the thieves at bay.
  14. Don’t get scammed: If someone is asking you for your personal information will are likely scamming.
  15. Don’t wear flashy jewelry – looking like you are balling out of control will get you robbed. Leave your LV and Gucci in the states. 
  16. Mosquito repellent is a must: If you don’t want to contract the West Nile virus please use Mosquito spray
  17. Ask for hotel concierge: The hotel staff will be able to provide full tips about where to eat and what attractions you must see.
  18. Avoid getting DRUNK: you need to know where you are at all times.
  19. Don’t try to buy drugs: Don’t ask about buying drugs and don’t even think about buying drugs.
  20. DON’T travel at night: Most crime occurs at night.
  21. Only use well-known tour operators:  Most of the cheaper tour operators will not have up-to-date equipment and experienced guides.
  22. Avoid ice in drinks: Don’t do it and I know you will be tempted because of the heat but it’s not worth it.
  23. Load up on sunscreen – the sun is not to be played with in Mexico!

Is Mexico Safe Infographic

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Is Mexico Safe For Solo Travel?

I solo traveled to the Czech Republic last year for 10 days.  Solo travel can be extremely liberating but you must do your research and make sure you understand the laws of the destination you are traveling because your safety is your number one concern. 

Does Mexico have a bad reputation? yes, it does but so does Memphis and it doesn’t stop me from going home and it shouldn’t stop you from traveling solo to Mexico.  

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe in Mexico as a solo traveler:

  • Assaults do happen. Remember DO NOT accept drinks from strangers because that is the main reasons why assaults happen. 
  • Know your surroundings. Don’t get lost and end up traveling down a back road own any sketchy roads.
  • Be Nice.  Mexican people are extremely friendly and there is no need to be nasty or rude.  
  • Be aware of the travel warnings but don’t let the media scare you into thinking Mexico is this scary place and you will be killed if you travel alone.  Mexico has a wealth of culture, food, and adventure so do miss out on traveling to this beautiful country.

Is Mexico safe for families with small children?

The beach resort area of Cancun and other popular Mexican cities are popular vacation destinations for families with young children and provides you with the opportunity to introduce your kids to a new culture, new food, and a different way of life.  You must still use caution while at the beach and when dining in Mexico.  

Beach Safety

Watch your child carefully when at the beach in Cancun. The U.S. State Department website reports that a strong rip current often is present between the Hyatt Regency and Club Med areas of the beach. Avoid swimming at the beach when a black warning flag is posted. Cover your child with sunscreen or protective clothing before heading to the beach, as Mexican rays are intense and can lead to a severe burn or sun poisoning, especially during the warmer spring and summer months.

Is it Safe to Rent a Car To Explore Mexico?

For the most part, bus travel is the best way to get around in Mexico, but if you are anything like me I prefer to be on my own time and not have to wait on other people.  I like to explore and make up my itinerary as you go and those tour buses do not give me the freedom and they may not cover every place I want to see. 

The Yucatan, for example, is especially suited to driving: Many beaches, barely developed ruins, and intriguing villages lie a good distance from the main road. Highways are well-maintained, constantly being improved, and so straight that the slightest curve bristles with warning signs and reflectors. It’s generally safe to drive in Mexico, but I suggest parking your car at night and don’t stay out too late.  

Is The Water Safe To Drink in Mexico?

Even the locals don’t drink the water in Mexico.   The water table in the Yucatan is very close to the surface and is contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff. Even in the poorest sections, the corner store sells huge bottles of purified water.  You can buy bottled water anywhere, but when you buy water, make sure it is factory sealed to guarantee it is safe to drink. Crystal is one popular brand in the Mayan Riviera.

Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Most ice in the area comes from factories and is purified. If you are uncertain about the ice, ask your waiter.

Many travelers take risks with food and water. If you are on a long trip, being sick for a few days isn’t such a big deal. If this is a week-long vacation, do you really want to spend half of it sick just because you were too lazy to get the bottled water when you brushed your teeth?

What To Do Now That You Know Mexico Is Safe

Mexico gets a bad rap; as I have discussed it’s not as dangerous as you think. However, like in any big city, you should use your common sense to prevent theft.  Check my top attractions while visiting Mexico!

1. Enjoy The Beach

With nearly 6000 miles of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Mexico is great for families, couples and solo travelers who love great beaches.

2. What To See In Mexico

Visit the Mayan archaeological sites of the Yucatan Peninsula which is one of the 7 World Wonders.

3.  What To Do In Mexico

There are lots of opportunities for adventures in Los Cabos from snorkeling, kayaking, tequila tasting, to camel rides and so much more in Mexico.  Get your adrenaline rushing as you zip-line through the jungle or explore an underground river. You can learn to surf or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beach and ocean as you parasail.

4. What To Eat In Mexico

You cant visit Mexico and not indulge in the local cuisine.  If you think the only thing Mexico has to offer are tacos you are in for a treat.  Try traditional Mexican cuisines like mole, chiles rellenos, quesillo, tlayudas, and tamales and wash it down with your choice of tequila or mezcal!

5. Where To Stay In Mexico

While there is nothing wrong with staying at a huge resort, I personally prefer staying at a luxury boutique hotel. I am a boutique hotel connoisseur so I have taken the guesswork out of finding not only the best resorts in Cabo San Lucas.

Millions of people visit Mexico each year and 99% of travelers do not run into any trouble but the 1% that makes the news is all that you hear about.  

Mexico is safe to visit so long as you stay out of trouble, take precautions, don’t buy drugs, and ladies do not allow men to buy you a cocktail and I don’t care how cute he is.  BUY YOUR OWN COCKTAILS!

Where to stay in Mexico

Photo Credit: Oyster

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Do You Need Travel Insurance When Traveling To Mexico?

Mexico Travel Insurance

YES! Travel Insurance is important no matter where you are traveling to because accidents happen and you should always travel with insurance. I got extremely sick in the Czech Republic last year and that was the one time I decided to forego travel insurance and I racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills and they wanted their money before I would even be seen by the ER Doctors. 

PLEASE GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!

Additional Travel Warning For Other Countries

Is the Dominican Republic Safe or Dangerous?

The Dominican Republic is generally a safe country for tourists.  Most visitors stay in either a hotel or resorts were the only thing they are worried about is how many cocktails they will consume and did they put on enough sun lotion. 

If you are traveling to larger cities like Santo Domingo or Santiago they can have some rough areas where tourists are prime targets for petty theft.  The top five cities for robberies are Santo Domingo National District, La Vega, Peravia, San Critóbal, and Santo Domingo Province and just this week a couple from New York was found dead. 

On March 26, their last night in the Dominican Republic, the couple shared a final drink in town with friends, then Moore and Ravenelle said goodbye, packed their bags and climbed into their rental car for the long, dark drive to the airport.

Their flight was scheduled to depart Santo Domingo around 2 a.m., CNN reported, but Moore and Ravenelle did not board it. They did not return their rental car, either. Their bodies were later found and the Dominican Government is saying their car veered off the road but most suspect foul play.  

Are the Bahamas Safe or Dangerous?

Due to a recent crime wave in the Bahamas, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for anyone traveling to the popular tourist destination.

Last month. the federal government released this statement: “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas.” There are four levels of advisory in the State Department’s warning system: Level 1 (“Exercise Caution”), Level 2 (“Exercise Increased Caution”), Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”), and Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”).

The advisory is designated as Level 2, which means “Exercise Increased Caution.”If you’re carrying a bag or a wallet, I suggest keeping it close or wearing travel belt so locals will not see your money.  Always lock your car and keep your passport and other forms of identification in a safe place. If you’re a woman traveling alone, do not walk alone and while I hate to say this but consider dressing more conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.

Mexico safe for Solo women

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Do you allow travel warnings to affect your travel decisions and are you wondering is Mexico safe? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Safe To Travel To Mexico

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