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Safe or Sorry?

Be honest, doesn’t the thought of going to Mexico raise a few nervous butterflies in your stomach? Rather than worry, follow the practical advice and commonsense tips we and many others have gathered over the years. Learn to travel with a relaxed mind in Mexico, People’s Guide style: “safe & easy”!
Are you feeling a little nervous about Mexico? Don't be embarassed; even the most experienced travellers experience an occasional bout of pre-trip "butterflies". Read on and rest easy.....

My wife and I are retired and had been living down in southeast Arizona and so much has been in the news about how unsafe it is to cross into Mexico especially in Nogales, Naco, Agua Prieta.... Michael

Senor Codo: Border towns have never been a great inspiration. Nogales on both sides of the border is at best more than a bit seedy. I do believe that those crossings that manage to avoid extensive travel in downtown and suburbs may be the best choice... (more) (1-09)

The following articles are excerpted from
The People's Guide to Mexico

Mexico is a very foreign country. On a scale of “foreignness” from 1 to 10, I rate Tacoma as a 1 (very familiar), Canada a 2, Texas a 3 and Mexico a solid 10.

In Mexico, “look before you leap” isn’t just an expression, it’s a survival tip. Forget about bandits; the greatest threat to your safety comes from slippery cobblestones, uneven sidewalks, knee-high curbs, head-knocking signs, eye-poking awnings, toe-stubbing thresholds, open trenches, unexpected drop-offs and discarded construction debris.

Tourists who turn their vacations into a nonstop happy hour, wear out their welcome very fast. They also suffer the vast majority of accidents, arguments, misunder-standings and minor unpleasantries. One of the reasons I no longer drink is that I finally made the connection between trouble and tequila.

The best protection for your valuables is to leave most of them at home, especially expensive jewelry. Be watchful in crowded places, including in the US. Many people lose baggage and cameras in large American airports while traveling to and from Mexico.

Compared to safe sports like mountain climbing, bungee jumping and hang gliding, parasailing is probably even more dangerous than it looks. Dunkings, collisions with beachfront hotels, tangled ropes and tow boats that break down or run out of gas are just some of the risks parasailors run.

We’ve experienced a variety of coups, uprisings and crises during our travels in Mexico and Latin America. In general, travelers are more likely to be inconvenienced than actually at risk:

Our advice is to use the same streetwise precautions and common sense when visiting Mexico City that you'd follow in New York, Seattle or Atlanta.The most common targets of street criminals are well-dressed business people and the obviously affluent tourist or local resident. Avoid warning any jewelry in public, don't carry fancy bags, and make your ATM withdrawals during busy hours.


:It is bittersweet but unavoidable that Steve’s memory hails me from every corner. Lorena was just reviewing our computer files and came across this electronic note he’d sent last year. It is “pure Steve” -- in trouble again, and enjoying it to the max!

“Hey, Carl: I just had my wallet picked out of an inside jacket pocket on a crowded D.F. city bus. The bus stopped and a man got off. The person next to me yelled, “That guy getting off was picking pockets!”. I jumped off in pursuit as soon as I realized that my wallet was gone. I caught the “thief” and confronted him. He just laughed and said “Hey, your wallet just took a ride with that guy next to you on the bus.” And I could see that it was true; the friendly business man that I was accusing of stealing my wallet was definitely not the thief. It was the guy on the bus, the one who had yelled a warning. Pretty embarassing, huh?


Gringos often find themselves intoxicated by a heady sense of freedom when they venture south of the border. However, I continually caution travelers — especially women — that for all of the modern changes that have come to Mexico in the past years, the culture remains very conservative and macho-oriented. In the following letter, Rachel Greenberg describes a terrifying close call in the jungle near Palenque...(more)

•Is it Safe for a Single Woman to drive in Mexico

I am a single middle aged woman with an old Vanagon & a big dog. Is it safe to drive from Nogales to the ocean & then south? Possibly to San Miguel de Allende. First time & don't know much Spanish.....Want to have a winters rest in a little house near a beach. .... (more)

Bus Hijacked & Robbed

Return to Carl's Notebook #7

he People's Guide to Mexico
13th edition
Discover why generations of travelers say they wouldn't cross the border without it! Read the award-winning book: The People's Guide to Mexico

Mexico, Safe & Easy
The Accidental Tourist
Drinking & Drugs
Valuables & Ripoffs
At the Beach
Revolutions & Guerrillas
Safety Alert

Is the Ruta Maya Safe?

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