Mexico has long been the vacation destination for those who wish to travel out of the country and enjoy the sand and surf of the beach without the expense of a Caribbean cruise or similar vacation. All-inclusive resorts along Mexico’s many coastlines beckon to travelers looking for a place to relax. Ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins further inland welcome the history buff to the country.
Recent concerns with drug-related violence and health risks have caused some to rethink their Mexico travel plans. Is traveling to America’s southern neighbor safe, or should the safety-conscious traveler opt for another destination? These are legitimate questions to ask before booking a trip.
First, travelers need to know what the risks are. Any time someone leaves home, risks are present. When traveling to Mexico, travelers should be aware that 2009 brought increased violence in the country, particularly among the drug cartels. This has led to some American kidnappings, and the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for the country in February citing these concerns. This has caused many to rethink travel plans, but those who wish to travel to Mexico should know the travel alert is a mild one that does not advise people to avoid travel. Rather, the State Department wishes for travelers to be more alert as they travel. Most of the danger lies in cities near the American border. Cities further inland are considered safe for tourists.
In addition, American security experts tell tourists that traveling within known resort areas is still considered safe, particularly if flying into the country. If possible, tourists should avoid driving to their destinations, which would require their presence in the dangerous border cities. Experts recommend the purchase of travel insurance so travelers can be reimbursed if the violence level changes, forcing a trip cancellation. Savvy travelers know to read the travel insurance policy guidelines carefully before purchasing, as some do not cover certain reasons, including violence in the destination country.
In addition to violence concerns, recent concerns about “Swine Flu” or the H1N1 virus, which supposedly originated in Mexico, have caused some to question their desire to travel south of the border. Since H1N1 has attacked the United States as well this year, most travelers have no more risk of exposure when traveling to Mexico than they do staying home in the U.S.
Vacationers should take universal precautions against the flu, including hand washing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and staying out of public when sick to avoid spreading the disease. Some travel medical insurance policies will give travelers access to medical care for serious illness when traveling out of the country. Other policies provide for medical evacuation for tourists who need to return quickly to the U.S. for medical care. This type of policy can provide peace of mind for those traveling during the flu season, but otherwise H1N1 should not prevent anyone from visiting Mexico on vacation.
In general, when traveling to a resort destination that is a little ways from the U.S. border, Mexico is still a safe vacation destination. Travelers may avoid current risks by practicing universal precautions against health concerns and vacationing away from border cities to protect against drug-related violence.