As spring break, that glorious time of freedom, approaches, you may be wondering: Is it safe to go to Mexico? Should you let your kids go to Mexico for spring break?
It depends on whom you ask. The U.S. State Department currently has a travel warning for Mexico, but the dangers are mostly in less-touristy areas. The best way to heed this travel warning is by reading the state-by-state breakdown of advisories, as some parts of Mexico are definitely safer than others. For example, for Quintana Roo, where most of the popular tourist destinations (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum) are located, no advisory is in effect.
If you do visit, be smart about what you do in Mexico. The State Department says, "U.S. citizens are encouraged to lower their personal profiles and to avoid displaying indicators of wealth such as expensive or expensive-looking jewelry, watches, or cameras. U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain awareness of their surroundings and avoid situations in which they may be isolated or stand out as potential victims". They also advise, "To reduce risk when traveling by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads ('cuotas') whenever possible", due to the concern over carjackings and highway robbery. The State Department further warns against visiting "casinos, sports books, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments," due to safety concerns.
If you ask the State of Texas if you should go to Mexico, their answer is a resounding "no." the state's Department of Public Safety included the warning: "avoid travel to Mexico" in their list of safety tips for spring break travelers. This advice seems a little suspect, since Texas is probably trying to convince travelers to visit the state's own spring break hot spots instead.
So should you or your kids do Mexico for spring break this year? Ultimately, that's up to you. If you do go, make sure to register your travel plans with the State Department, and to follow their common sense safety tips. Keep in mind one key piece of knowledge from the State Department: "Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes."
--By Caroline Morse