Spring break is right around the corner. Tourists will likely head out of town, countless thousands to beach destinations. Among the most-popular of these are multiple cities in Mexico and south Texas. These include Cancun, South Padre Island, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Still, spring break travel, particularly international travel, poses its safety risks to travelers. What do you need to do now to prepare?
Why Travel Risks Exist
Whenever you travel internationally, you will face new and potentially-risky situations. Your personal security might even come under threat:
- You might not have familiarity with your destination’s legal code. You might commit certain offense without realizing it.
- Visiting unknown areas might open you up to risks of personal harm. For example, you might not realize when you enter an area of a city that is best avoided.
- Bad actors might take advantage of the unfamiliarity tourists have with a destination. Pickpockets or muggers might target sightseers. Scammers might dupe someone into entering an unsafe situation.
Such safety risks might beckon anywhere you go, and in Mexico, they are no exception.
Thousands of American college students will travel to Mexican destinations for spring break. Others will visit southern Texas beaches that allow easy access to the border. In the majority of cases, their trips will be safe, enjoyable and without consequences.
Yet, there are exceptions to every rule. Crime and security risks will threaten spring break travelers in every destination. Even so, these risks in Mexico might even prove worse than in certain other areas. For example, there were more homicides of American tourists in Mexico than in any other foreign countries, combined.
A variety of triggers lead to safety risks for Mexican travelers. However, threats of organized crime, drug trafficking and gang violence have caused the U.S. to issue travel restrictions and recommendations in certain parts of the country. These threats are generally worse in parts of Mexico’s interior. However, resort communities are not immune. Travelers, therefore, need to take appropriate precautions.
Chances are, your trip to Mexico will prove entirely safe and secure. However, we do recommend that you know how to prepare for travel for your own safety. If you do, you’ll likely be able to avoid security threats, regardless of how minor any one might prove.
Taking Your Safety Into Account
While planning your Mexican getaway, think about what you need to do to stay safe legally. There are various steps you need to take to avoid potential bureaucratic challenges. Here’s a list of a few of these:
- Prepare the paperwork that allows you to travel. This might include your passport and any travel visas you might need. Your passport must remain valid. American tourists in Mexico do not need travel visas except in certain cases. For example, if you plan to stay in the country for longer than 180 days, you will need to apply for one.
- If you plan to drive your own vehicle while in Mexico, you will likely need a Mexican car insurance policy. Mexican law does not recognize car insurance issued in the United States.
- A travel insurance policy might also be to your benefit. These policies can help you cover scenarios such as cancelled travel, stolen baggage or possessions, and certain emergency medical occurrences.
- If necessary, get the appropriate calling cards that will allow your mobile devices to work in a foreign area. In other cases, you'll only need to dial an area code to make international cards. Most major cell service providers allow international data usage.
Don't stop with paperwork. You’ll also need to consider a few critical safety steps for your own security.
- Keep all your personal documents (passports, credit cards, IDs) under lock and key. Hotel rooms will often include these items. Otherwise, a locked suitcase might suffice. If you must carry these papers with you, keep them close to your person. Appropriate places might be in a front pocket (to avoid pickpockets) or in a purse worn diagonally across your body.
- Do your research on the safest tourist areas of certain cities and stick to them. Do not visit areas known for crime. You can generally find this information by visiting various tourism sites.
- Be careful when meeting new people. Do not divulge too much personal information about yourself. Never leave a public site with someone you do not know. When going out, always go out with a group of friends, so that you can watch out for each other.
- Don’t eat meals or consume alcohol from unknown sources. Drink spiking, along with related threats, might occur in party spots. Your discretion will prove an asset in these cases.
Should you face an emergency, some cities have their own 911 system. You can also summon fire, police or ambulances by dialing 068, 060 or 065 respectively. You can also find helpful information by contacting the U.S. State Department or your local Mexican consulate.
Also Read: Your Cancun Tourism and Safety Guide