It remains to be seen how many young Americans will avoid Mexico this year. Over 100,000 teenagers and young adults travel to Mexican resorts during Spring Break each year, but if Texas has anything to do with it, none will go this year.
On March 6, 2012, the state of Texas warned against travel to Mexico – even in resort areas – citing the safety threat posed by drug cartel violence and other criminal activity. This follows the extremely harsh U.S. Department of State Mexico Travel Warning issued on February 8, 2012.
Although the travel warning states that, “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day,” most readers are focusing on the more sensational aspects of the warning – completely overlooking that the warning is limited to specific regions of an immense country.
Here are some tips for you to enjoy a safe Spring Break:
- Avoid the areas of Mexico where violence is an issue; plan a trip to one of the regions specified on the travel warning where “no advisory is in effect.” Even more specific, check the State Department’s Spring Break in Mexico – “Know Before You Go!”
- Sign up for the Smart Traveler Program, a free program offered by the U.S. government to ensure that contact information is on hand in case of an emergency. And call home regularly.
- Book a room above the first floor (where rooms are easier to break into) but below the sixth floor (where fire trucks might not reach.) Consider booking a Spring Break vacation at one of the resorts recommended by Mexico’s Tourism Board.
- Don’t skimp on travel insurance, including medical evacuation coverage.
- Use only the licensed and regulated “sitio” (SEE-tee-oh) taxis. Hotels, clubs and restaurants will summon a sitio taxi upon request.
- Be responsible. Pace yourself if you choose to drink and don’t mess with drugs (which can incur severe penalties.)
- Be wary of ATM visits. Travel in groups, and only during daylight hours.
- At the beach, heed warning flags and wear sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Drink the bottled water, but not the tap water.
- Leave valuables at home or in the hotel safe.
- Carry your passport in a secure pocket or money belt, and have backup copies available.
- Use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid situations that seem dicey.
Many of these Spring Break safety tips apply wherever you plan to go. For more ideas on how to plan a safe vacation, see Fight Back! on spring break, a resource developed in response to Spring Breaks in Daytona Beach, FL.