Is Mexico Safe To Visit? Travel In 2022

is mexico safe to visit travel in 2022
is mexico safe to visit travel in 2022

Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now? The country may be the top destination for U.S. travelers, but violent crime is soaring, leaving travelers questioning whether Mexico is safe to visit. The stories are sobering. In January 2022, two tourists were killed in a shooting in Playa del Carmen, while a gay couple from Texas was found dismembered near Ciudad Juárez. In November 2021, four American travelers were hurt in an attack in Cancun when gunmen opened fire on the beach. The month before, a California travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in a shooting in Tulum. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There have also been murders of journalists, murders of women and the list goes on.

No surprise, the U.S. State Department recently issued a chilling warning about travel to Mexico with a level 3 on a scale of 1 to 4, meaning “reconsider travel.” And some parts of Mexico where drug cartel violence is at its worst have long on a no-go list, with a level 4 no-go advisory. “Violent crime—such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery—is widespread and common in Mexico,” warns the State Department.

Then there’s Covid-19, which is still problematic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico, indicating a high level of Covid in the country. And yet, despite the pandemic, Mexico’s homicide levels have remained historically high, at 27.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

So what is a traveler to do? Eeva Ruuska is the head of Americas operations at Riskline, a global travel risk intelligence company that provides independent country and city risk assessments as well as a 24/7 alert messaging system. We caught up with Ruuska to find out whether it’s safe to travel to Mexico right now.

Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?

“Millions of travelers visit Mexico every year, and further growth is expected in 2022 following the lifting of border closures and restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Ruuska, who points out that Mexico never closed its air borders nor required vaccination or testing for entry during the pandemic and domestic restrictions were rather lax.

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In recent years, there have been several clashes between rival criminal gangs in Cancún and surrounding areas. “While the attacks generally do not target foreigners, bystanders could—and have been affected,” says Ruuska. “Tourist destinations have, however, not seen the crime levels seen in states affected by drug cartels. Authorities have also increased security measures in these areas, including Cancún, Acapulco, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. Petty theft is the most common security threat travelers will face across the country.”

Places in Mexico that travelers should avoid

According to Ruuska, the foremost states and areas affected by drug cartels include Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa. Places with high homicide rates include the northern border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, Ciudad Obregón in Sonora as well as Zamora and Uruapan in Michoacán. “Travelers should consult local advice on safe and unsafe areas, maintain a low profile and consider hiring security escorts in high-risk states,” says Ruuska.

Recent hotspots of cartel clashes and related crime include the mining cities of Caborca in Sonora state—where authorities imposed a nightly curfew due to an uptick in violent crime in February—and Fresnillo in Zacatecas, where authorities have reinforced ongoing security operations against criminal organizations amid record-high homicide rates. “Aguililla and Zitácuaro and surrounding towns in Michoacán, and certain areas in Guanajuato, including Celaya, Salamanca and Irapuato, are off limits, for the same reasons,” says Ruuska.

Some areas in Chiapas, including Altamirano and Pantelhó, should be avoided due to a recent uptick in attacks and disruptions by vigilante groups.

But the real question that travelers are asking: What about the tourism areas along the Roviera Maya? “Travel to Cancún, Tulum and the surrounding areas in Quintana Roo is still considered safe,” says Ruuska. “Recent shooting incidents have mainly been settling of scores between drug traffickers.”

Staying safe in Mexico

“Do your research before departure,” says Ruuska. “In general, travelers should avoid travel to areas unlikely to be visited by tourists. When transiting, avoid public transport and hailing taxis on the street, and use app-based services or regulated taxi stands.

For drivers, Ruuska says it’s best to avoid traveling overnight. “And stick to toll roads and first-class bus services for interurban travel as petty crime is high on public transport and illegal roadblocks are common including in Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Chiapas” says Ruuska.

Precautions for women travelers in Mexico

“There are high rates of harassment, sexual assaults and violence targeting women in Mexico, including in major cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara,” says Ruuska. “Female travelers may receive unwanted attention from men, ranging from open displays of catcalling and staring to physical groping. It is best to ignore these advances or confrontations and walk away.”

Some of the most common places for harassment in Mexico include taxis and public transport. “Use app-based services or regulated taxi stands only,” says Ruuska. “Do not walk alone at night, especially in unfamiliar neighborhoods, desolate areas or beaches. Avoid flashy clothes and jewelry.”

Solo female travel in Mexico

“Traveling as a solo female in Mexico can be a rich experience when safety considerations are in place,” says Ruuska. “In general, Mexican people are friendly, fun-loving, helpful and open—and curious of solo female travelers.”

Some tips: “Learn some basic Spanish and keep personal things to yourself. Arrive during daylight and take a regulated taxi or ride-sharing service when transiting after sunset. Never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers or new acquaintances that you have not seen poured,” says Ruuska.

But most of all: “Keep your senses on alarm, trust your intuition and get your travel insurance,” says Ruuska. “If a situation is fishy, walk away.”

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