If you read the headlines or watch the news, you may get the impression that Mexico is getting scarier by the minute. With reports of increasing drug cartel and gang violence across even the most idyllic tourist spots, it is important to be aware of the dangers and consider some safety tips if you plan to travel south of the border.
Check Travel Advisories for Traveling Safely in Mexico
Before you go, gather intelligence about where you plan to go in terms of travel advisories or other warnings. Two websites to check are the U.S. State Department and World Travel Watch. Both have updates about safety issues for travelers.
If there are major concerns about the area in the updates, then it may be a good idea to look at what else is listed and consider a different part of Mexico for your upcoming vacation.
Of course, if you are traveling on business or need to visit for other critical reasons where the destination cannot be changed, it is important to keep these warnings and notices in mind. Just proceed with caution.
Leave Valuables at Home to Travel Safely in Mexico
Even if your destination is not in danger, there are some important precautions to take when preparing what you will bring along with you. Leave all valuables at home, including jewelry and non-essential electronics.
In terms of what you do want to pack, take contact numbers for your bank and credit cards, use a money belt for your cash and plastic, and get a carry case for your passport that you can wear under your clothing.
Leave Information With Family to Travel Safely in Mexico
Other good ideas are to make a copy of your itinerary so loved ones at home will know where you are — or where you should be. Also, scan all your travel documents and passport and email these to yourself and family members. You can then access them via smartphone, and your loved ones will have a copy to use to help you in an emergency.
Other safety tips involve precautions to take once you are in Mexico, just as when traveling anywhere. Do your best to blend in as much as possible, and try not to look like an obvious tourist. If you are wandering around with a guidebook and camera, you are essentially a moving target.
Carry as little as possible with you when you are touring around, keeping what valuables you do bring with you in the hotel safe. Pickpockets are known to prowl in parts of Mexico so empty pockets mean they can’t take anything from you.
Ask for Safety Tips at Your Hotel When Traveling in Mexico
Be sure to ask at your hotel what areas should be avoided. Many hotels now also offer a guide for you who can take you around and serve as an additional layer of protection. Staying out late in the evening might also be something to avoid. Either way, just be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to those around you and what is going on.
Lastly, taxis are a tricky thing in Mexico, often serving as a ploy for thieves. The best strategy is to not hail your own cab. Ask your hotel to call one for you so that they can get you an authorized taxi. Also, only take official taxis at the airport or have your hotel arrange a driver for you in advance.
All this said, Mexico is a beautiful country of wonderful people with amazing things to offer — Back to Video
just have your wits about you. I’m Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.