Spring Break Mexico Travel Warning

Another spring, another spring break travel advisory about Mexico. It’s happened every year lately; the latest is via the Texas Department of Public Safety. The US State Department has reliably issued Mexico travel warning after Mexico travel warning each spring as well. The Texas Dept of Public Safety’s Director, Steven McCraw, said “Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break and stay alive.” Well. That’s pretty grim. Sounds like the entire country is overrun with corrupt government officials and drug gangs.

Azul Sensatori Resort in Puerto Morelos, MexicoWant to know how to get people to stop traveling? Scare them. That’s right — nothing keeps people in their homes and away from seeing the world better than good old fashioned fear. And you know what else? News organizations just looove to instill fear in their readers. Well, not all news organizations, perhaps, but with every publisher and broadcaster fighting for eyeballs and shortened attention spans of their readers and listeners, our emotions do get played with on a regular basis. And guess what — it works. If fear tactics didn’t work we wouldn’t see so many pre-commercial teasers that go something like this: “What item in your fridge could kill you right now? We’ll tell you…after this.” Sounds familiar, right? Of course it does.

Similarly, people who might consider taking a spring break vacation in Mexico, but are easily swayed by fear tactics, are more likely to stay home after reading one travel advisory after another warning them of the dangers of travel south of the border. What a lost opportunity to both enjoy and learn something about a different country.

Sayulita, north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Mexico is a large and diverse country. There are absolutely some parts of it — primarily the states that border the United Sates, like Tijuana and Nueva Laredo — that are overrun with drug crimes and corruption. There’s no reason to plan a vacation in those parts of Mexico, but the gorgeous resort destinations and charming smaller historic areas are safe. Tourism is an important legal part of Mexico’s economy: Giving Mexico tourism dollars helps the country. Mexico’s travel destinations and attractions need to stay in business. The alternative to a sustainable travel industry is ugly, and affects the United States as well as other neighboring countries.

The good news is, Cancun is the third most popular spring break travel destination in the world, right after London and Paris (STA Travel). Budget Travel reports that Funjet Vacations has seen a sizable 15% increase in Mexico travel plans for this year’s spring break (compared to last year). All those families and college students must know that the popular, touristy parts of Mexico make for great vacations. Puerto Vallarta, another popular coastal travel destination, is noted by the Mexico Tourism Board as being ‘among the safest, most welcoming and relaxing tourist destinations in the world.”

Ek Balam, a Yucatan Peninsula Maya SiteLook, on any vacation, crime can happen. Three of the most popular US travel destinations — Orlando, Las Vegas and Los Angeles — aren’t crime-free. That doesn’t stop the hordes from descending on each city during peak travel seasons, though. Mexico has safe, beautiful beaches, incredible history, and a vibrant culture. Experiencing one or more element of this varied country is more than just a valid way to spend spring break: It adds to our life’s memories and awareness of the larger world around us. So, this spring break, don’t let your travel plans be ruled by fear. There’s a difference between traveling smart, and not traveling at all.



26 Responses to “Spring Break Mexico Travel Warning”

  1. 1
    Jake says:

    I have been to Cancun three years in a row for spring break with no problem.

  2. 2
    ColoradoGal says:

    My family and I can’t WAIT to spend a week in the Riviera Maya soon!!

  3. 3

    I wrote about this as well when I traveled all over Mexico for four months last year and couldn’t agree more. From a political standpoint, I think our government is heavily invested in propagating an isolationist mentality and the best way to do that (and from traveling out of the country) is to instill fear. Of course, the State Department has to keep us abreast of legitimate problems, but it really irritates me when they paint an entire country with such abroad brush, when just a small portion of the country is affected.

  4. 4

    you know how I think of perceived verses real risks…. we tend to be way off in what we think is risky verses what really is

  5. 5

    Nothing gets me more irritated than the Mexico issue. I think many Americans have no idea of what’s happening in their own cities. Drug crimes go down in almost every American community, including rural areas (hello, meth labs?), yet you never hear anyone telling people to avoid entire states or countries because of it.

    I do think that you need to stay informed about where you are going, as things can change. Guadalajara, where I spent a lovely week in 2009, has had some serious crime lately, to the point where some airlines won’t house their workers there. And that’s something that I’d investigate, if I was going there again.

    But honestly, most people going to Mexico are merely going to get some sunshine and go to the beach, so they’ll never deal with life outside the resort anyway. So I don’t understand the fears.

  6. 6

    The prevailing view in Mexico is this news hype about Mexico is being perpetrated to keep U.S. travelers spending money in their own country. If you make people scared enough, they will stay home and not go where those dark-skinned foreigners live. If they really showed the actual stats in those news reports—minus places like Ciudad Juarez—the reality is that the Yucatan has a lower crime rate than almost anywhere in the U.S. It’s certainly safer than Miami!

  7. 7

    I am constantly shocked that it is issued for the country rather than just the border. I was even more shocked to learn that there is no warning for Venezula.

    The US attitude toward Mexico is appalling.

  8. 8

    I really don’t understand why so many people say the entire country of Mexico isn’t safe. Another good reason not to watch the news!

  9. 9
    tripgirl6 says:

    It’s terrible how the news can exaggerate isolated cases. Worse is when we give too much attention at what’s happening in other countries that we overlook what’s happening in our own backyard. And it’s true that the three of the most popular local destinations aren’t crime-free… Crime and violence can happen whether you’re on vacation or not, so just be guarded and alert at all times.

  10. 10
    Theodora says:

    We have a similar problem in the UK with our Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Though I am mystified as to why Cancun is considered dangerous…

  11. 11
    Jo Green says:

    I love love love Mexico. I have been to the Mayan Riviera 3 times and really enjoyed myself. I was hoping to one day have a wedding there, but my parents refuse to travel there because of all bad press. Too bad…

  12. 12
    jenjenk says:

    thank you for posting this!!

    I’ve been to Mexico several times by myself for work and i’ve exercised the same precautions that I do in any destination. common sense is the key to survival ANYWHERE.

  13. 13
    TwinCitiesGal says:

    Great post! Having lived on the AZ border I know the threats are real but I agree not every destination is at high risk. People should take precautions and do their research before traveling anywhere – and that includes finding out what neighborhoods are safe in US cities.

  14. 14
    Ripley says:

    “News organizations just looove to instill fear in their readers.”

    I have to disagree. Most of the news I follow about Mexico
    is never even reported in the US media.

    I have done my research. Granted, many of the problems
    within Mexico are near border towns…but it really is more
    widespread than what folks want to believe.

    For a real eye-opener for anyone who is interested…check out
    this blog: http://www.borderlandbeat.com

    I dare you to read it daily for just one week. See if you
    can stomach what is reported there…news that rarely makes
    it to the states.

    I have been reading borderlandbeat for well over a year.
    It’s enough to reinforce my decision not to return to
    Mexico even if my trip was completely free.

  15. 15
    Ripley says:

    Here’s some news that http://www.borderlandbeat.com is reporting today:

    “Also Tuesday, police in the resort city of Cancun found four bodies that had been set on fire, authorities said.

    Quintana Roo state prosecutor Francisco Alor said the four men had been shot and their bodies burned in an open field in the outskirts of Cancun. All had their arms tied behind their backs.

    In the Pacific coast city of Acapulco, a teenager was killed outside the junior high school he attended and police found a mutilated body near a state prison, authorities said.

    The 15-year-old boy was shot in the head and assailants left a threatening note next to the body, Guerrero state police said in a statement Tuesday.

    Threatening notes were also left next to a mutilated body found inside a plastic bag left near the state prison in Acapulco. Authorities wouldn’t say what the notes said.”

  16. 16
    MsRisa says:

    Thank you Ripley. I’m glad someone knows what is really going on. It upsets me how people are so far off from the truth about what has been happening in Mexico and even in our own border towns. It is actually downplayed and not in our media as it should be. That’s all because of the government and money. Why do you think the Mexican president keeps visiting the White House? The more we talk about the drug war and violence, the less we travel to Mexico and their economy suffers. Then how will they fight the drug cartels? The two governments need each other right now. Would you travel to Iraq if the country had those vacation resorts? Do you know how many more people die in Mexico now every year than Iraq/Afg? How many Mexican Americans or Mexicans who travel back and forth are kidnapped and held for ransom and then beheaded? How many people have been kidnapped right on our own Tempe/Phoenix, AZ? How many Americans who thought, ” Oh its between the drug dealers, we’ll be fine.” and are never seen again? It’s not the Mission District people. The cartels will use you somehow to get money and then dispose of you…they don’t care WHO you are..there is no regard for human life there…PERIOD.

  17. 17
    TexasKid says:

    go check out borderland beat the violence is really being downplayed. The warnings are real and not because they want to scare you. take your own risjk to protect yourself and be really informed. http://www.borderlandbeat.com/

  18. 18
    Lola says:

    My personal stance is to always travel cautiously and at your own risk . There are reasons for these travel advisories beyond what the government may even be willing to share with its own citizens. Especially if people want to venture away from resorts for more ground-level interaction with the rest of the country.

    Originally coming from a region that can be volatile at times, I do factor in travel advisories when making decisions and then I travel at my own risk.

  19. 19
    Wanderluster says:

    Thanks, Jen. Unfortunately we do need to be reminded that the news is fear-based. We should be making our own informed decisions when it comes to travel (or pharmaceuticals or what we wear) rather than caving to news and advertising.

    Don’t even get me started about how we, as a population, have become so complacent and are just as happy to be fat and “happy” rather than getting off the couch and actually doing something – like sitting on the beach in Mexico :-)

  20. 20
    Ximena says:

    If you would like a different experience in Spring Break i would suggest to visit the Copper Canyon, it´s amazing!!! and i think the best way and the most secure is by the train Chepe. Here are some links:

    I can assure you will love it!!!

  21. 21
    Lisa Bergren says:

    Totally agree. We spent last Spring break in Cancun and had a blast–never felt one shiver of fear or trepidation, even as we explored farther afield. Get a grip, people!

  22. 22
    Ben says:

    I got robbed by the police in 2001 when I went to Cancun. They didn’t hurt me, just wanted some money from a 21 year old that had some to spare. Let’s see jail or 300 dollars? I’ll take my room at the omni for 300. If you go clubbing don’t leave your group! Definitely group up and don’t leave bar without entire group!

  23. 23
    Kayleigh says:

    I agree. I just went down to Central Mexico (driving) for a mission trip in January and had no problem. I am going down twice more in the next two months and am not worried at all. There is crime everywhere you go (states included) and as long as people take the normal precautions and be smart, why should traveling through Mexico be different than going someplace high in crime here like St. Louis?

  24. 24
    Dooglas PI says:

    Travel to Mexico in NO WAY helps drug cartels nor increases their profits. This friendly neighbor country doesn’t want drug trade, it is the unfortunate geographic entry point from the South for drug dealers.
    Things are pretty sweet down here for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who live here, and the millions who travel here. If you are on the streets of bad neighborhoods at midnight, get yourself a guide, for heaven’s sake.
    In Rosarita, Cabo San Lucas, Rocky Point, Merida and Cancun and any of a hundred other wonderful destinations on the beach and inland you will never encounter danger like you might on Sunset Boulevard in LA or in Grand Central Station.
    FEAR is sometimes said to be an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

  25. 25
    fort bend county says:

    Great. I agree.

  26. 26
    Peter says:

    I was in the season of spring break in Villa del Arco Los Cabos, I hope to return to Mexico but this time to Cancun, I think it is a country with very friendly people

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