If you’re planning to go to Mexico, here are some tips on how to stay safe throughout your trip:
- Don’t Get Drunk
Feel free to enjoy yourself, but don’t get too crazy. You’ll be tempted to drink a lot in Mexico, but getting so drunk that you aren’t aware of what’s going on or can’t remember how you got home is a very bad idea, no matter what country you’re in. The best way to stay safe is to stay alert and aware of where you are and what’s going on around you.
- Avoid Drugs
Drugs are a major reason why parts of Mexico are unsafe at the moment, and when you buy drugs in Mexico, you’re contributing to an underground drug trafficking trade that is responsible for thousands of deaths a year. Drugs are the easiest way to ensure you are not in control of your actions and decisions, lowering your inhibitions and overall ability to stay safe. Don’t do drugs!
- Stay Off The Beaches at Night
Always. This is the golden rule that should stay with you throughout your travels around the world. Beaches are not patrolled in Mexico at night, so save your beach time for daylight hours.
- Be Cautious of the Police
Unfortunately, Mexican police are not always on your side – avoid dealing with them if you can. If you have a serious issue, we recommend talking to your hostel staff or someone you trust about it first, then contacting the nearest embassy for advice on how to proceed.
- Walk With Purpose
If you take a wrong turn or feel unsafe in a particular neighborhood, walk with purpose towards a business or hotel to ask for directions. Stay alert without seeming paranoid, and walk at a steady pace with a serious, yet calm expression. Act like you know where you’re going even if you don’t. It’s important to remember that the people of Mexico are generally warm, helpful, and not out to get you, but listen to your instincts if you feel unsafe and ask for help.
- Don’t Flaunt It
Wearing flashy, gaudy or expensive jewelry is a no-no, as is overly revealing clothing. As a foreigner, you most likely stand out already, and you don’t want to attract unwanted attention, especially in big cities and inland communities. The best way to avoid this is to lower your profile: dress conservatively and keep your accessories to a minimum, unless it’s jewelry you’ve bought locally.
- Take Cabs in Mexico City
While the subway is very economical (3 pesos a ride), taxis are safer. Trains are extremely crowded and it’s easy to get taken advantage of if you don’t know where you’re going.
- Take The First Class Bus
They’re more expensive than second-class buses, but are definitely the most safe and comfortable option, with reclining seats, air conditioning, bathrooms on board and direct trips between locations. First class buses are almost always available, depending on your destination, and all major companies have websites so you can check departure times, arrival times and cost of the trip before you go. Some popular companies are ADO, Primera Plus, TAP and ETN. I took buses across Mexico and never had a problem riding long distances alone.
- Sit At The Front
You get to select your seat when you purchase your ticket – pick one in the front of the bus. This ensures you’re close to the driver in case you should need help for any reason.
- Don’t Arrive Anywhere Unfamiliar at Night
Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but it’s much easier and safer to arrive in a new place during the day.
- Ignore Catcalls
This one is pretty self explanatory, but the best way to deal with catcalls is to ignore them. It is also a good idea to beef up on your Spanish vocabulary before visiting the country.
This is a condensed list of safety tips taken from our book, Go! Girl Guides: Mexico. For a more extensive overview on culture and customs, safety and health tips, common scams and how to avoid them, and a list of states and areas to avoid, check out our guidebook here.
Can you think of anything else to add to this list?