Tips for a Safe Family Vacation to Mexico

Do recent headlines have you second-guessing your family's Mexico vacation? The good news is, you're not alone. The better news is, Mexico is still a safe destination for the savvy traveler. Follow our advice for a stress-free vacation south of the border.
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Mexico, outdoor market
Tourists browse an outdoor market in Mexico  (VStock/Thinkstock)

The Situation
Should you be afraid to vacation with your family in Mexico? Today’s barrage of headlines about the swell of drug-related crimes and murders (sometimes involving tourists) has put off some would-be Mexico travelers. A recent poll found that 25 percent of U.S. travelers feel that Mexico is simply too dangerous to visit. Another poll, conducted in January 2012, found that 74 percent of Canadians believe Mexico has a "serious safety and security problem" and said they were "hesitant to book a trip to Mexico."

"Mexico has been going through a very severe security crisis in the last decade that has become more noticeable since 2006, due to a large uptick in drug-related violence perpetrated by organized crime groups," says David A. Shirk, a professor of political science at the University of San Diego and the director of the Trans-Border Institute, which promotes a better understanding of U.S.–Mexico relationships and the border between the two countries. "This has been exacerbated by the fact that the Mexican government is trying to dismantle these organizations. The more they become unraveled and splintered, the more violent and unpredictable they are."

In April 2011, the U.S. Department of State issued warnings on travel to specific areas in Mexico, calling out certain states and border locales as the most dangerous. Advocates for travel south of the border maintain that the country’s crime zones, which occur in 14 of its 31 states (including areas along the U.S.–Mexico border), do not reach out to its popular beach resorts and other key tourist destinations. In addition, Mexico has a lower homicide rate than almost any country in Central America, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa.

Published: 8 Mar 2012 | Last Updated: 13 Mar 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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