With palm-fringed beaches, steamy jungles, teeming cities, and jaw-dropping architecture there is no surprise that Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. However, travelling to Mexico comes with risks that you need to remain wary of, no matter how awe-inspiring or mind-blowing the experience.
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Here are the 6 key risks that our security experts advise all travellers remain alert to, and prepare for, when travelling to Mexico.
With ever-shifting and overlapping territories, conflict between cartels is a common issue throughout Mexico, and as the government sends forces to secure these areas, violence can often escalate. As a traveller you risk being accidentally caught in the middle of this conflict, so knowing the areas to avoid is integral to a safe trip.
Due to the diversity of its geography, Mexico suffers from a wide range of environmental hazards ranging from torrential rainfall to earthquakes and hurricanes, all of which can disrupt travel plans and potentially cause injury when in the vicinity. Understanding seasonal risks and what to do in the event of an environmental disaster is crucial.
Travellers should be alert when using public transport as street taxis are often targeted by criminals, waiting until they enter choke points before attacking. If travelling by taxi, do not hail them down on local streets as these can be untrustworthy. Always establish formal identification of the driver before commencing any trip.
Mexico can be quite a hostile place at times when it comes to politics and the military. It is, therefore important to understand and show respect to local customs and the prestige associated with certain locations and establishments at all times. Photographing government buildings or military facilities, for example, may result in detention by authorities.
Outside of urban areas, travellers may encounter checkpoints manned by military or police personnel. Do not pass through unless waived on and cooperate fully should the security force demand to see any documents. Failure to do so could lead to aggression and detention.
As with many Central and South American locations, petty crime is rife. Travellers are often the victims of robbery and theft, especially when navigating city centres and marketplaces where pickpockets operate. Blending in is the best way to avoid being targeted, as well as being sensible about carrying important documents and valuables, as per our advice below.
Mitigating these risks
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With earthquakes being a fairly common occurrence and a hurricane season that lasts from June through November, the weather in Mexico can often be quite volatile. Such severe weather events pose a serious risk to travellers and could leave you injured or stranded.
Therefore, if travelling during hurricane season or in a known earthquake area, regularly check news feeds and follow local advice. If you know there is a chance of a major weather incident occurring, don’t risk being outdoors or going on unaccompanied remote hike.
Wear ‘smart’ clothing
Buy a money belt instead of a bum bag to carry and conceal your money and passport underneath your clothing. This will make you a less viable target for opportunistic criminals. Also, avoid wearing expensive or ‘flashy’ clothing as this will only make you a target for theft.
Get your vaccinations
Make sure you get the recommended routine vaccination courses before travelling to Mexico, including Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Pregnant travellers should be wary that the Zika virus is present in Mexico, along with other mosquito-borne illnesses. With this is mind, using insect repellent and covering exposed skin is recommended.
Make a copy of travel documents
Before setting off, ensure that you have a travel-insurance policy that covers theft, loss, accident and illness. Also, scan your passport and important documents and email them to yourself or a family member. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you can easily access copies.
Staying Safe in Mexico
Avoiding ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’
Travellers Diarrhea, locally referred to as Montezuma’s Revenge, is an all-too-real challenge facing travellers in Mexico. Avoid drinking tap-water and consuming excessive amounts of the local foods, as the ingredients are often alien to many travellers and will not agree with your digestive system.
Don’t walk around with your mobile phone out using Google Maps as this advertises your tourist/traveller status and may make you a mark for thieves. Also, never get involved in local political issues and avoid discussing sensitive topics in public as this can often lead to hostility from locals.
Know where to avoid
When planning a day out, make sure you know what areas of the city you should avoid, and try to refrain from being out at night alone in areas you cannot safely navigate. Appearing confident in your surroundings and travelling with somebody whenever possible are key steps to take when out and about in Mexico.
With CloseCircle you have access to the latest travel security information for Mexico via the app where you’ll receive alerts direct to phone if an incident occurs within your vicinity, at which point we will advise you where to go and how to stay safe.
Avoid carrying around large amounts of cash
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash when in highly populated areas. Doing so could mark you as a target for theft by pickpockets. Instead, keep the majority of your money locked in a safe back at your hotel/hostel and carry only small amounts of cash and a debit card in case of emergencies.
Finally, avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol as this will leave you vulnerable to being robbed/attacked and less able to defend yourself. If you plan on drinking in Mexico do so in moderation and don’t leave the bar/restaurant by yourself afterwards.
Conclusion: Safe Travels in Mexico
Mexico is definitely one for the bucket list for many people and rightly so. By taking these small precautionary steps, you can easily enjoy the wonders this lively country has to offer without falling victim to the risks that are associated with it.
As always, careful planning and preparation will help your trip run smoothly and ensure your safety throughout the length of your travels.