Mexico gets a bad rap. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, the country is often unfairly portrayed as dangerous. People frequently ask me, “is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?” And to that, I answer with an emphatic, “Yes!”
We spent the last six months traveling through Mexico, visiting eight cities in six Mexican states. Each city had its own unique charm, and absolutely worth traveling to Mexico to visit. Some were off the beaten path, and some were very touristy. Yet, each city felt no more dangerous than any city I have traveled to in the United States or elsewhere in the world.
What I learned from traveling to Mexico
Before traveling to Mexico, I had apprehensions about what the country would be like. I even wondered to myself, “Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now? And am I putting my family in harm’s way?”
Hollywood and the news media don’t paint a pretty picture of Mexico. My mind was filled with worries about kidnappings, muggings, and getting into the crossfire of gang violence. But after traveling to Mexico, I have a completely different opinion of the country.
In my six months of traveling in Mexico, I’ve learned that much of what we see about Mexico is hyperbole. While it is true that violence does occur in Mexico, due to the drug cartels, it isn’t the whole country that’s affected. And while poverty does exist in Mexico, not everyone in the country is poor and looking to mug rich tourists.
We spent time in Mexico City, and loved walking around and exploring the city. And in February, we spent three weeks in La Paz, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. Yet, we did not feel unsafe there at all.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that much of the violence that occurs in Mexico is not targeted towards tourists. A typical family traveling to Mexico will be fine as long as they’re not involving themselves in illicit activities.
So, is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?
The statistics on homicides in Mexico look grim. In 2018, the Mexican government reported over 28,000 homicides that year. This translates to about 20-22 homicides per 100,000 people. But before you ask yourself, “so, is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?”, try and put things into perspective.
American cities like Baltimore and New Orleans have a much higher homicide rate than Mexico. And the city of Chicago has roughly the same homicide rate as Mexico. Yet these cities see around 25 million, 18 million, 57 million tourists each year, respectively. Mexico, itself, brings in about 35 million tourists each year. So rather than asking, “is it safe to travel Mexico right now?”, we should be asking ourselves, “is it safe to travel to Baltimore or New Orleans or Chicago?”
About half of the murders committed in Mexico are drug related. Other crimes in Mexico include theft and assault, corruption, and domestic violence. For a typical traveler, the biggest risk would be theft and assault. However, in our six months in Mexico, we did not experience theft, nor did we get assaulted.
Practicing Mexico travel safety
Part of traveling to Mexico involves practicing some Mexico travel safety. Try to keep a low profile when you travel around the country. Avoid flashing around expensive objects. Don’t draw too much attention to yourselves by talking loud or obnoxiously. And try not to stay out too late at night.
Another big tip for Mexico travel safety is knowing where you need to go before going out on the street. When we arrive at a new destination, we always try to look up directions before we leave our hotel or Airbnb. Or if we need to look at Google maps on our phones while we’re out and about, we’ll step into a store to do it, rather than pulling our phones out in the middle of the street. Mexico travel safety is all about using common sense.
We really enjoyed our time in Mexico. And I’m always encouraging of other families who are thinking about traveling to Mexico. When they ask me, “is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?” I always reply with a “Yes!”
Have you traveled to Mexico with your family? What are your tips for Mexico travel safety?
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