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7 Tips to Help You Stay Safe While Traveling in Mexico
With incredible weather, delicious food and a rich, welcoming culture, it’s no wonder that Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Fortunately, even though there has been an increase in crime in certain northern regions over the past few years, many areas of Mexico are still completely safe to visit.
We’ve put these 7 tips together to help you prepare for a fun, safe trip to Mexico.
1. Select the area you visit carefully.
It's well-publicized that certain areas in Mexico are suffering from heightened levels of crime and are best avoided. In particular, the northern states along the U.S.-Mexico border are particularly dangerous for travelers.
Talking to locals is the best way to find information about where it’s safe to visit. To get a better idea of where you should go, try messaging a few local Trippers before buying your tickets or finding accommodations.
You can also consult the U.S. State Department’s website, which will provide information about official travel warnings.
2. Fly to your destination.
In the past, driving down from the United States was a popular way to travel to destinations in Mexico. Unfortunately, it’s become more dangerous to drive through the northern regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, which makes driving to a destination unsafe. The safest, most recommended way to travel to destinations in Mexico is by plane.
3. Stick to traveling on toll roads.
Mexico has an excellent toll road system that offers a lot of advantages for travelers who are driving. For example, toll (“cuota”) roads tend to be more direct and better maintained than the toll-free (“libre”) roads. Your toll also covers road side assistance and limited insurance for damage caused by the road way.
If you are traveling by bus, opt for a first class bus, such as ETN, as they take direct, non-stop routes and generally stick to the safer toll roads. The prices are higher but not astronomical and is well worth the added safety.
4. Avoid traveling at night.
If you are traveling by car, avoid traveling after dark. This is especially critical if you are traveling on toll-free roads, but is best avoided even when traveling on toll roads. Though highway bandits have become less common, it’s better to avoid the risk altogether.
5. Learn key safety phrases.
Though many people in Mexico speak English, especially in popular travel destinations, it’s a good idea to learn a few key phrases. When it comes to safety, travelers should at the very least know and understand the following words -
- emergencia = emergency (pronounced "emm ehr hen zee uh")
- peligro = danger (pronounced "peh lee grow")
- ayuda = help (pronounced "ah you duh")
6. Update your vaccinations.
The recommended vaccines for Mexico are fairly common and include the following: Hepatitis A, typhoid, MMR and Tetanus-Diptheria. For the most part, malaria is confined to certain regions and isn’t a risk at any of the major resorts along the Gulf and Pacific Coasts.
7. Be careful about what you eat and drink.
Though the water quality in Mexico has improved in recent years (especially in popular travel destinations) it’s safest to avoid drinking tap water. If you’re visiting a rural area, be sure to use bottled or boiled water when brushing your teeth.
At restaurants, stick to bottled beverages and avoid ordering any uncooked food items like salads, especially outside the major tourist zones.