The No B.S. blog about Travel, Writing and Life

Is Mexico Safe? part one

Let’s face it, Mexico has had its fair share of bad press during the last year with reports of hurricanes, viruses, warring drug lords and a recent high profile murder of a reality series producer’s wife. However, are the headlines the whole story? Are there legitimate reasons to be concerned when traveling Mexico beyond a few border towns? I am not so sure, but perception is king. The news items have kept many vacationers away from Mexico’s sun and sand. Is this fair? Probably not, as it would not be fair to blame Florida for a problem in New York.

So how does an unfair perception get fixed? The folks at several of the Marriotts in Mexico came to pose this exact question to me and several other prominent travel writers in Los Angeles. The answer? Discuss traveler’s concerns head on. This is what I tried to do in my interviews with Christopher Calabrese, the Vice President and General Manager of the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa and Casamagna Cancun Resort Marriott, and Dennis Whitelaw, the General Manager of Casamagna Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa.

Please pardon my glibness during the interviews. I admit that I have traveled to many places that have had less than a savory reputation — so have many other traveling friends. I have never even heard of something that would be more than some mild irritation during all of those travels. So I have little concern about the prospect of visiting Mexico, but many others do — these interviews are for them.

To see my interview with Chris In Video: Is Cancun Safe

To see my interview with Dennis In Video: Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?

For more about Mexico on ITKT


  1. Hi Devin, Okay, so the main tourist locations are safe. I was in Cancun for last Christmas and felt just as safe as anywhere I go to in San Antonio, my home. I have been driving through Mexico for years and never had a problem.

    However, how safe do your contacts think it is to drive through Mexico now? I’ll be crossing the border at Laredo later this month and driving down to Rio Verde, SLP (I’ve made the trip at least 20 times). However, everyone is telling me I’m stupid for doing it with the conditions the way they are. Yes, there have been killings in Nuevo Laredo. Yes, last month two cartels did stop all the cars going into Monterrey; they stole the cars and robbed the passengers. Yes, eleven people were killed during one day last month in Matamoros. Yes, the State Department put out a warning to U.S. travelers.

    I’ve always followed a few safe travel rules: 1) Travel only on the toll roads, 2) Don’t travel at night, 3) Drive a well maintained and dependable car or truck, 4) Don’t wear jewelry, 5) Don’t flash money around, 6) Plan your route ahead of time, 7) Do not drink and drive, 8) Watch out for livestock and people on the road, 9) Make hotel arrangements before you depart for your drive, 10) Stop at designated rest areas only, 11) Be a smart packer, don’t pack expensive items or something you would hate to lose, 12) Carry your passport and money in your underwear, 13) Only use ATM’s at banks or in malls and put your money away as soon as you get it, 14) Ask someone at the hotel if there are areas you should avoid and try to get back to the hotel before dark, 15) Make several copies of your passport and email a copy to yourself just in case you lose yours, 16) If you have a safe in your hotel room, use it, 17) DO buy auto insurance and keep it in your car, 18) Even though you have a bar code sticker with your vehicle permit, keep the permit paper-work in your car (police officers do not have the reader for the bar code) 19) Carry a copy of your prescriptions with you, 20) Blend in as much as you can (a shinny car really stands out) and, 21) Respect the local ways and traditions.

    What do you think Devin, will I be safe if I just follow these rules?

  2. Hi Rich,

    Great list and it is the same one I use. The direct information I have heard about Cancun is that there is one road in and one road out, which secure according to my contacts. I cannot speak to the rest of the country, because that is a lot of road in Mexico. However, as I am sure you have heard, Mexico is notorious for bad driving conditions and dubious road side stoppages that usually amounts to little.

    All the worse press is coming in from the border towns, so the worst happenings in country are at the borders, although violence is still not directed toward tourists, robbery might.

    Personally, it is likely nothing will happen. However, my official response is that you should always err on the side of caution.

  3. As someone who has lived in Baja Mexico a lot of the time off and on for the last 12 years, @ 15 miles south of a border town, we have NEVER been affected by violence of any kind. We have traveled all over the Baja region and met exceptionally nice local people as well as international travelers lately who are not affected by US media.

    What is extremely sad is to watch the tourist economy crash locally because of media that is not related to 98% of the Mexican people or their businesses.

    I agree that an unfair perception of Mexico has been created by US Media. It’s a good idea to be aware and put things in the right perspective especially from media sources that thrive on sensationalism for “top stories” and viewer statistics.

    The fear that these stories create is unfair. It would almost be like saying don’t travel in the US because of the gang violence in Los Angeles.

    I think Rich’s list is a bit over the top in some respects but his caution is good basic travel advice for traveling in Mexico or in any part of the world for that matter.

    Enjoying my uncrowded Ocean View!

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