The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings that warn U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling in Mexico due to threats posed by Transnational Criminal Organizations, (TCOs). These warnings apply only in specific regions and while they should not be ignored, they shouldn’t keep you from taking that vacation either.
By the Numbers
Millions of Americans flock to Mexico every year for tourism, studying or business. More than 150,000 cross the borders every day. Resort areas generally do not see the massive drug-related or political violence that the border areas or drug traffic routes encounter. According to the State Department there were 71 U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico in 2012 and 81 in 2013. This is out of millions of visits.
Where is it Safest?
The most popular regions around Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side and the state of Quintana Roo which contains Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and the rest of the area known as the Mayan Riviera, have no such warnings and are considered safe. Other popular vacation destinations such as Acapulco and Mazatlán have had varying degrees of warnings issued. In Mazatlán they just recommend staying in the tourist zone and exercising caution when out and about. You can check for any area of Mexico you intend to visit by going to the U.S Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs web page on warnings.
What You Can Do
If traveling to an area that has experienced problems, watch where you go. There are certain areas of cities even in the U.S. that you should avoid, so research and use common sense. If you are traveling to a popular tourist area you are generally safe as the Mexican government takes extra care to keep their cash cow running.
Watch What You Wear
If you are walking the beaches of Cancun, wearing a Denver Bronco or any other U.S team jersey is not a problem because everybody knows you’re a tourist, that’s why you’re there. If walking the streets of Mexico City, it might be a good idea to tone it down a bit. Don’t wear clothing with American logos, flags, or anything else that identifies you as an American. The TCOs have not been known to specifically target Americans, but better safe than sorry.
Watch When You Go Where
Once again, there are some areas of even your own hometown that you should avoid at night, so it is here. If you’re out at night, stay in tourist areas, take taxis, and don’t walk the streets alone. Some tourist areas and even the resorts themselves have security guards on the beach at night. Though you are generally safe at any resort, they do advise against walking the beach off-property at night.
If you’re in a tourist area just be smart. Don’t flash a lot of cash, don’t patronize ATMs in isolated areas, and stay on the main roads if traveling. You really have nothing to worry about if you just use as much or more common sense as you would at home. If in a dangerous area, lower your personal profile by ditching conspicuous jewelry, and avoid wearing clothing with logos of U.S sports teams or military themed apparel. Remain aware of your surroundings, avoiding situations where you could be isolated and you should have a great time.