Reliable news or misleading headlines?
Days before we left for our first-ever trip to Mexico, the US Department of State published a change in Mexico’s travel advisory status. Around the same time, a news story about murders in Quintana Roo but well outside the tourist areas of Cancún went viral. Those two ingredients were all that many mainstream media outlets needed to craft a narrative that purported the two were related. Spoiler alert: they weren’t.
I’m not here to try to convince you to travel to a country or a place you simply don’t feel comfortable going to. I am, however, here to remind you to always do your due diligence when researching travel destinations. Confirm your sources and weigh all the facts alongside the objective reasons behind your personal concerns before you jump to judgment about a place you want to visit.
Mexico Travel Advisory – Facts
*As of September 27, 2018
- Mexico’s overall travel advisory status level remains at a Level 2, which is Exercise Increased Caution. This is the same rating held by China, Spain, France, Italy, and the U.K.
- Certain Mexican states are cited as being higher risk— we recommend staying away from those areas.
- When Mexico’s travel advisory was updated, no changes were made to the state of Quintana Roo’s advisory. The state’s advisory was, and remains, at a Level 2, with the Department of State specifically citing that crime victims are targeted. Any affect on tourists amounts to what is effectively the result of being in the wrong place, wrong time. Translation: Stick to the tourist areas and stick with your tour group— and you’ll be fine. Always be cautious whenever venturing away from your resort.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
The short answer is: probably. Whether or not it’s safe to travel to Mexico, particularly with kids, depends on which state you’re going to. Further, your overall safety always depends on where you’re staying and what you plan on doing.
If you plan to doing tourist-y things in traveler-heavy areas, then the answer for you is likely yes, it’s safe to travel to Mexico.
- Stay updated regarding the Department of State’s official travel advisories
- Don’t travel to places with Level 3 or Level 4 warnings
- Prepare yourself with the basics of travel safety
Are travelers safe in Cancún?
Quintana Roo, home to Cancún, the Riviera Maya, and Tulum, is considered generally safe for tourists. Most incidents of crime that make the US national news don’t involve tourists at all, and often occur well outside of areas where vacationers tend to go.
We encountered a lot of other families with young children during our trip to Mexico. The majority of the larger resorts and most excursions and activities appeal to the entire family, and resorts and tour operators bend over backwards to ensure that visitors are safe, and that they feel safe too. Areas like Avenida 5 in Playa Del Carmen are popular with families, as well. We felt safe the entire time, and we would absolutely return to the Cancún and Riviera Maya with our kids.
Here are the State Department’s recommendations if you’re traveling to Mexico:
If you decide to travel to Mexico:
- Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night.
- Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Mexico.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Let’s be real though—these are more or less the same precautions you would take anywhere, including any major metropolitan area in the the United States!
I’ll admit, the negative press around Mexico travel safety had me a little worried before our trip. But after digging into the news stories more deeply and reading others’ recent experiences in the Cancún and Riviera Maya area, I was satisfied that we didn’t have anything out of the ordinary to worry about. And you know what? We absolutely didn’t have anything to worry about!
As you would anywhere in the world, exercise a reasonable amount of caution and keep general travel safety guidelines in mind as you travel.
So I encourage you: See the world, make your memories, and experience new things— and bring your kids, your camera, and your common sense with you!