Safety Tips for Spring Break in Mexico

Spring Break Crowd
Party hard, but safe. Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Spring Break is a time to let loose and have fun, but safety concerns are a reality for spring breakers, no matter where you decide to go. Mexico has many popular and fun destinations, and you can make sure your getaway is both safe and enjoyable by following these basic spring break safety tips.

Buddy Up!:

Arrange in advance to stay close to a friend, always stick together and if you're traveling with a larger group, inform others of your whereabouts. This way, if you have any trouble, you'll always have someone nearby that you can trust to help you out.

Party Smart:

  • Know your limits: a few drinks may be part of what you consider a fun time, but remember that drinking too much alcohol will lower your inhibitions and can impair your judgment. Over-imbibing can make you an easy target for thieves, con artists and rapists, and can even lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Obey the law: Mexico's drinking age is 18. Public drunkenness, disturbing the peace and indecent or lewd behavior are against the law.
  • Keep an eye on your drink, and don't accept drinks from strangers. Be informed about the date rape drug, and what you can do about it.

    Stay Away from Drugs:

    Mexico has strict laws about possession of drugs, and you can be arrested on a narcotics charge and can face severe penalties if you are carrying even a small quantity of drugs. You don't want to spend your spring break (or longer) in a Mexican jail. "Just say no": don't import, purchase, use, or have drugs in your possession.

    Be Careful on the Beach:

    Take the warning flags on beaches seriously. If red or black flags are up, do not enter the water. Strong undertows and rough surf are common along beaches throughout Mexico. Most beaches do not have lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy. If you get caught in a current, don't try to swim against it, swim parallel to the shore until you're clear of the current.

    Parasailing, and other beach recreation activities probably don't meet the safety standards that you're used to. Rent equipment only from reputable operators and avoid these types of activities completely if you've been drinking.

    Beware of the Sun:

    Avoid too much sun exposure. Sunburn may seem like a fairly trivial concern, but the discomfort and pain of a sunburn can put a big dent in your fun. Wear sunscreen with an appropriate SPF for your skin type, and remember that drinking while exposed to the sun can increase the effects of alcohol and can cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water (bottled of course, you don't want to have to deal with Montezuma's Revenge).

    Avoid Mosquito Bites:

    It's not just the itch of a mosquito bite that you want to avoid, but the illnesses that can be borne by these biting insects. Dengue, chikungunya and zika are all transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. To be on the safe side, wear insect repellent and make an effort to keep mosquitoes out of your room by keeping doors and windows shut if they don't have screens.

    Practice Safe Sex:

    STDs and unplanned pregnancies don't make good spring break souvenirs. If you're going to have sex, use a condom - these can be purchased at any drug store in Mexico - they're called condones ("cone-DOE-nays").

    Take Common Sense Safety Precautions:

    Besides these spring break safety tips, you should also take general safety precautions for Mexico travel. Although times are changing, and the genders are equal under the law in Mexico, women may face a few particular safety issues while traveling. Here are some tips for women travelers to help you stay safe whether traveling solo or with a group.

    In case of emergency:

    The emergency telephone number in Mexico is 911, just like in the United States. You do not need a phone card to call this number from a public telephone. There is also a hotline for tourist assistance and protection:  01 800 903 9200. U.S. citizens may consider contacting the nearest U.S. consulate for assistance in an emergency situation. Here's more information about what to do in an emergency in Mexico.