Dangers & Annoyances
Mexico’s drug war is undeniably horrific and frightening, but the violence is almost exclusively an internal matter between the drug gangs; tourists have rarely been victims. Top safety precautions throughout Mexico include the following:
- Travel by day and on toll highways where possible, and don’t wander into neighborhoods unfrequented by tourists after dark.
- Beware of undertows and rips at ocean beaches, and don’t leave your belongings unattended while you swim.
- Watch out for tainted (badly produced) alcohol that has been linked to a couple of deaths in Quintana Roo resorts.
Theft & Robbery
Pickpocketing and bag snatching are risks on crowded buses and subway trains, at bus stops, bus terminals, airports, markets and in packed streets and plazas, especially in large cities. Pickpockets often work in teams, crowding their victims and trying to distract them.
Mugging is less common but more serious. These robbers may force you to remove your money belt, watch, rings etc. Do not resist, as resistance may be met with violence, and assailants may be armed. There are occasional victims of 'express kidnappings', with people forced to go to an ATM and withdraw money, but this rarely happens to foreign visitors.
The following precautions will minimize risks:
- Avoid semideserted places, such as empty streets and empty metro cars at night, little-used pedestrian underpasses and isolated beaches.
- Use taxis instead of walking in potentially dodgy areas. In Mexico City, make sure you take the right kind of cab.
- Be alert to the people around you.
- Leave valuables in a safe at your accommodations unless you have immediate need of them. If no safe is available, divide valuables into different stashes secreted in your room or a locker.
- Carry just enough cash for your immediate needs in a pocket. If you have to carry valuables, use a money belt, shoulder wallet or pouch underneath your clothing.
- Don’t keep cash, credit cards, purses, cameras and electronic gadgets in open view any longer than necessary. At ticket counters in bus terminals and airports, keep your bag between your feet.
If you are a victim of crime, report the incident to a tourist office, the police or your country’s nearest consulate.
Government Travel Advice
These government websites have information on potentially dangerous areas and general safety tips:
New Zealand (www.safetravel.govt.nz)