Safety Tips when Visiting Mexico
No mater where we travel, there’s always the possibility for things to go wrong although the majority of those who travel to Mexico never have problems. But since it’s better to be safe than sorry, it’s important to know some tips in order to prevent any problems.
- Before you start planning the vacation’s details, make sure to research your destination. The US State Department’s Travel Warnings section is excellent for finding you info you need about how safe a certain destination is. Not to mention that if you search online, there are plenty of comments from fellow travelers. Being a member of a travel network such as BootsnAll also provides the information you need.
- Leave your valuables at home. Besides your wedding ring (if you have one, of course) there isn’t the need to carry valuables with you. The last thing you want is to worry about having them stolen. Plus if you plan to go to the markets and bargain, you don’t want to look “too rich” either.
- Keep copies of your travel documents. Scan your passport and send it to your own email address; make copies and give them to a relative who can mail them in case of emergency.
- Tell a relative (or a person you trust) your travel itinerary and details. Make sure they have enough details to be able to get a hold of you. When you arrive at the hotel , call them and give them your room number and the hotel’s telephone number.
- Talk to your bank and get their international phone number, fax and email. Those toll-free numbers never work from abroad. So make sure you know how to contact your bank in case you card (debit or credit) gets stolen. Also, although the cards are the safest way to carry money, always have a back up. Some travelers cheques are a great option and even carrying cash is not such a bad idea.
- Buy a money belt and keep it under your clothes. Or create inside pockets for your pants. That’s where you’ll be keeping your important documents all the time. Never keep the passport and the passport copies in the same place. And never keep all the money and all the cards in the same place.
- Once you get to the hotel, ask if they have a safe and if you can change the code. If not, don’t even bother using it.
- Ask at the reception if there are certain parts of the city you should avoid for security reasons. Better yet, talk to someone who works there, like a maid maybe. They are the people walking the streets who know what’s going on although the receptions generally give accurate information as well.
- Blend in as much as possible. Take a short shopping trip and look at how people your age are dressed and try to mimic the “dress code”. If you look like a tourist it’s pretty much like yelling “rob me”. Also, don’t wear you backpack on the front. It screams “I’m a tourist, go ahead and take what I have”. Avoid marching on the streets with a map in your hands. Buy a small map and keep it folded in your backpack or purse. When you stop for a coffee take out the map, check it and plan your next move.
- Be careful when using ATMs. Use them in banks or malls but never in deserted places or at night. Keep all the recipes in case you have problems with the transactions.
- Carry the cash in a pocket or a small purse, away from the money belt and the rest of the money. Be discrete when you take stuff from your purse.
- Be careful when there are large crowds: markets, public transport or at festivals. When there are plenty of people in a crowded place, the pickpockets are in their element. That’s when the inside pockets come in handy.
- Don’t hail for taxis, especially in Mexico City. Ask the hotel to call one for you. They should give you the driver’s name and the number of the taxi. In airports, look for the authorized companies.
- Learn some Spanish. Nothing makes you look like a target than not to knowing what you are doing or where you are heading. Armed with some Spanish knowledge you can talk to the locals and avoid potential problems.
- Consider buying travel insurance. In the best case scenario you’ll be “losing” some money but if you happen to need the assistance you’ll thank yourself for buying it.