Is Travel to Mexico Safe?

Mexicans Await Presidential Elections
••• Police in Mexico. John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Headlines about crime and violence in Mexico give many people the idea that it is a dangerous place to visit. Some prospective travelers wonder about whether it's really safe to go there. Of course, worries about crime, violence and protests can put a damper on your vacation, but you don't have to cancel your vacation or travel somewhere else just because the headlines are nasty. It's important to realize that headlines highlight particular events and are designed to grab readers' attention, but they do not accurately reflect the general safety of a destination.

Look to more reliable sources of information about the particular city or destination you are heading to, to find out whether there is really cause for concern.

Mexico is a big country and it's incredibly diverse, so violence along the US border won't have any effect on your vacation in, for example, the Riviera Maya any more than an earthquake in California would affect people in Chicago. Most of the violence that has taken place recently is due to conflicts between drug cartels and the Mexican authorities. As a tourist, you are in little danger of having trouble as long as you follow common sense safety precautions and don't get involved with drugs.

Crime not the only concern

Besides violence and crime, you should also be aware that safety standards in most of the world, including Mexico, often do not conform to U.S. and Canadian standards (which some people find extreme). In Mexico and most other countries, people are expected to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their children.

Guard rails may be lacking or lower than you would expect, sidewalks can be treacherous, and safety equipment for adventure activities may not be used as strictly. When choosing activities, decide what level of risk you're comfortable with, and enjoy activities in your comfort zone.

Avoid Protests

Mexico has experienced some political strife in different areas of the country.

As a visitor, it's a good idea to be informed about the situation but you should avoid getting involved in any demonstrations as it is illegal for foreign nationals to have any involvement in Mexican politics.

Research before you go

There are plenty of places in Mexico where you can have a tranquil, relaxing vacation. Research your destination and choose a place that feels right for you. In its Mexico travel warning, the United States State Department details the areas of Mexico which are and those which are not experiencing safety concerns, and they update their warning about every six months, so the information on there is relatively current.

Be proactive

You can significantly reduce your risk of being a victim of crime by following these important safety tips. Although they are not much different from the measures you should take anywhere in the world, there are a few things that are particular to Mexico. You should also know what to do in case of an emergency.