Most people who travel to Mexico have a wonderful time and don't encounter any problems. However, as in other tourist destinations throughout the world, crime is a fact of life, and as a tourist you may be targeted for theft. In order to increase your chances of having a safe and pleasant vacation, follow these tips for Mexico travel safety.
Before you leave:
- Research your destination. The US State Department's Web site has information about Mexico as well as current warnings and public announcements regarding safety issues for travelers.
- As you're packing, think twice about taking valuables with you. If they're not essential, they're probably better off left at home. This will also make for lighter bags, allowing you greater ease of movement which can deter potential thieves.
- Scan your passport and travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you can easily access copies from your e-mail account.
- Take your bank or credit card's international telephone number with you (the 1-800 numbers used in the United States don't work in Mexico). Your credit card should have a phone number printed on the back that you can call collect from anywhere in the world. Be sure to write that number down separately so you'll have it even if you lose your credit card.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home, but don't share details of your travel plans with other people you meet while traveling.
- Buy a money belt (not a fanny pack) to carry your money and passport underneath your clothing. Compare Prices
- Credit or debit cards are the most convenient way to access your money while traveling, but losing your card (or having it swallowed by a cash machine) can be a great inconvenience, so have a back-up plan: take some cash to exchange (and for tips), just in case.
While you're there:
- Blend in as much as possible. Walking around with a camera around your neck and a guidebook in your hand advertises your tourist status and may make you a mark for thieves. Try to be discreet.
- Choose ATMs in malls or stores if possible. Avoid using ATMs at night or in deserted places. When you withdraw money from an ATM, put it away immediately.
- Carry only the cash you need for the moment in your pocket or purse. Carry your passport, credit card and extra money inside your clothes in a money-belt, or leave them in your hotel's safe. When you need to get something out of your money belt, do it in a private place.
- Exercise particular caution when in crowds, markets or on public transportation. Pickpockets can be very crafty and sometimes work in pairs - one person will distract you while another takes your wallet.
- Ask your hotel manager or another knowledgeable person if there are some areas of the city you should avoid.
- A vital part of staying safe is keeping your wits about you, so be cautious about drinking too much alcohol, and avoid recreational drugs, which, despite what you may have heard, are illegal in Mexico. Here are some extra tips for a safe spring break.
- Here are some tips about what to do if you experience an emergency in Mexico and you need to call for help
In Mexico City, you should avoid hailing cabs in the street. Ask your hotel to call a cab for you. They will take note of the number of the taxi and the driver's name. At the airport and bus stations in Mexico City and other major cities there are official taxis (Taxis Autorizados) that you should take. Find out how to take an authorized taxi.