Saturday, February 10, 2007

Staying Safe in Mexico

A spate of murders, traffic accidents, and shootings involving Canadians in Mexico have once again raised concerns about Mexico being a safe destination for tourists. Is traveling in Mexico risky? Yes and no. Over the past 25 years I have visited Mexico countless times without encountering serious problems. Having said that, Mexico’s annual murder rate is 10 times that of Canada, and petty crime is much more prevalent. It’s always possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, in my opinion, the rewards of exploring Mexico far outweigh the possible dangers. Here are a few simple things that I think anyone can do to minimize the chances of getting into trouble while in Mexico.

  • Don’t flaunt cash or expensive possessions such as cameras and jewelry.
  • Avoid loud and aggressive behaviour in public. Politeness is the norm in Mexico.
  • Learn some Spanish before you go. Apart from helping you find your way around, knowing a few words of Spanish can sometimes get you out of tight situations.
  • Be very careful crossing streets in cities. Drivers seldom yield for pedestrians.
  • Take taxis after dark. Walking alone at night, especially in tourist zones, can be a good way to get mugged.
  • Avoid large crowds and political demonstrations.
  • Practice cultural sensitivity. A little understanding can go a long way in Mexico.
The Canadian Consular Affairs website has more information on Safety and Security in Mexico.

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