Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico?

I feel pretty safe under the sun and between these palm trees!

Without rattling off a bunch of statistics, in a word, yes. I have been living in Cancun for eleven years and I finally feel the need to speak up.

I moved from Chicago to Cancun eleven years ago. Cancun was different then, smaller, less traffic, and not a pair of shoes in my size to be found, but was it any safer for tourists? I don’t think so. I think Cancun is just as safe now as it was then yet everyone is in an uproar about whether vacationing in Mexico is unsafe.

While browsing the travel boards recently, I noticed that the number one question asked in one form or another is “Is it safe to travel to Mexico? I keep hearing terrible things on the news.” Today I read this question (or one very similar to it) posted by someone in Detroit. I was mugged at gunpoint in Detroit 20 years ago. I would imagine the person who posted that question should feel pretty safe strolling down the white sand beaches of Cancun.

Visit Mexico!

As I said, I used to live in Chicago, one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. If one walks down Michigan Avenue, only a few miles from the South Side of Chicago, which can be a very dangerous area, does one feel safe? Of course. If one walks down the sidewalk in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, only a few kilometers from the possibly dangerous areas of downtown, should they feel safe? Of course. Would a tourist wander through the South Side of Chicago? I would hope not. What about the possibly dangerous areas of downtown Cancun? I would hope not. By the way, I would encourage tourists to visit certain areas of downtown Cancun, even at night, but I wouldn’t encourage a tourist to visit most of the South Side of Chicago, even during the day. Let me just clarify here that I love Chicago, South Side and all!

On my last visit to the U.S., I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to visit my mother. I saw unbelievably horrendous things on the news. Interestingly enough, they don’t include them on the news here in Cancun and officials don’t discourage Mexicans from visiting the United States. However, when something happens in Mexico it seems to go viral and travelers are warned, and in some cases just assume, that all travel to Mexico is dangerous. Would you avoid visiting Tampa, Florida because there is danger and violence in South Central Los Angeles?

But don’t just take it from me. Here is the opinion of one of the most well-known and respected bloggers in Cancun, Kelly McLaughlin (Cancun Canuck) She is an expat from Canada.

“So, is Cancun safe for tourists? Yes. Crime happens here, sure, pick pockets, thefts from hotel rooms, etc., etc., but violent crime against tourists, no. The type of crime that happens here occurs in every city around the world, tourist attraction or not. Use your common sense and street smarts and you’ll be fine. I would venture to say that Cancun is safer than most big cities around the world. I don’t feel any different here than I did in Toronto or New York or Los Angeles. In fact, I probably feel safer. I am far from naive, I read the local and national Mexican papers daily so I know exactly what is going on, but it does not fill me with fear. I don’t associate with the bad guys, nor do I try to impede what they are doing, I don’t have any money nor do I involve myself with dangerous activities. I live my life the same way I did in Toronto, eyes open, head up and aware of my surroundings. If I felt that tourists were in any way in danger, I would shout it from the rooftops. I have no interest in lying about this, people’s safety is of far greater concern to me than the economy of the city of Cancun. If I felt that Cancun was THAT dangerous, I certainly wouldn’t continue to live here with my small child.”

We should all try to analyze what we read in the paper and see on the news, not just take it all in as absolute truth. Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and most of the other popular vacation destinations in Mexico are safe for tourists. You may even be safer here than you are in your hometown.

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About the Author

kristin Kristin Busse is currently a travel writer but has worked in many different industries. She lives in Cancun, Mexico and plans to use her diverse experiences to write about the Yucatan Peninsula from her unique perspective.

Comments

  1. David Wayman says:

    Kristin- I enjoyed your article.I have been going to Mexico for 30 years. I have also lived in Baja Norte. I took my sweet 10 year old daughter to the Yucatan last year and she loved it!!I have never had any problems in Mexico other than excruciating border waits in TJ!I have had many more problems in the US (CA) in terms of theft,robbery,vandalism. The US Media absolutely LOVES to spin anything negative against Mexico.The media simply perpetuates the public’s negative perceptions of Mexico.

  2. Kristin Busse says:

    Hi David, thanks for reading the post and for commenting. I really like to hear others people’s experiences and yours are especially interesting as it sounds like you have safely visited areas close to the border?

  3. Karla says:

    Thanks for the Article… This is sooo true! as I live in South Central, Los Angeles and I feel safe! There are Crimes all over the world… and bad things happen even in good areas!

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  5. Kristin Busse says:

    Hi Karla, thanks for the comment. So great to hear that you feel safe in your hometown!

  6. Bill McClendon says:

    I am 53 years old. I have traveled throughout Mexico since I was 8 with my family, with no problems what so ever. My father farmed aspargus on the Baja about
    3/4 of the down. He traveled back and forth for 10 years
    with problems at all.
    Mexico is safe ti travel, just as the US is. Someplaces in either country are higher risk. Go to Mexico, enjoy the beauty of the country and people. Who are kind and friendly. Use common sense, as you would traveling in the US. Mexico is a major bargin vs the US.
    The Carribean side, south of Cancun, is a treasure, and be enjoyed for a fraction of cost of traveling in the US. Akumal is a pearl of a place, between
    Playa de Carmen and Tulum. You owe it to yourself to discover the area. It’s gorgous, safe, and inexpensive. Go into the small towns, that’s where the bargins are.

  7. Kristin Busse says:

    Hi Bill, thank you for your passionate comment. I am going to Akumal next weekend and I am so excited. I have never been there!

  8. Sandra Kennedy says:

    Hi Kristin, I appreciate your article. How about, “Is it safe to travel to the U.S.A.?” Currently, my solo adventure to ajijic/Lake Chapala and Guadalajara leaves me without worries. Reports need to be in perspective for Mexico and other countries.

  9. Kristin Busse says:

    Hi Sandra, gracias for your comment! I agree with you!

  10. John Anon says:

    Without any dates on the page, some readers will discount the content as potentially no longer applicable. If Kristin has the time, editing the article to show the date it was written, along with an “updated on….” date that she keeps current will increase the worth of this valuable information significantly.

    1. Hello John! Thank you for the feedback! The post was published on March 3rd, so it was written the last week of February. I think it’s a great idea to have updates on the security issues in Mexico. Will ask Kristin to work on it. Thanks again! – Jorge

  11. Jeff Lowney says:

    Hi Kristin,
    Great article. Living in Houston Cancun is a layup as far as a great, cost effective vacation. Obviously we get many reports of voilence in the border towns, and my concern was specific to kidnappings and dissapearences of Americans. Apparently if one is smart and stays out of sketchy areas it would be a fine vacation. Thanks again!!

  12. Kristin Busse says:

    Glad this answered any questions you may have had Jeff. Thanks so much for your comment!

  13. This is true, Cancun is very safe and we will be coming back this year. In fact we return each summer to swim with whale sharks and dolphins… hey what can I say, some people like to ski, we like to swim in nature!

    Happy & Safe Travels Everyone,
    H.

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