Mexico is a large country geographically speaking, which makes it difficult to give a simple yet accurate report about safety while traveling. Despite the recent bad press, the majority of Mexico is a very safe travel destination and hosts millions of visitors each year without incidents.
Mexico is nearly 3 times the size of Texas, almost 7 times the size of the United Kingdom or New Zealand, slightly larger than Alberta, Canada. While it is not 100% safe, to say that all of Mexico is unsafe would be the equivalent of saying the whole country was affected by a hurricane. Only a few targeted regions comprise the unsafe areas in question, with the rest of the country being largely unaffected. The violent crime rate in Mexico, while higher than in the US, is still less than many of its Central and South American neighbors and many US metropolitan areas.
Escalated violence has occurred in recent years as a result of the Mexican authorities buckling down on Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO’s). Gun battles between TCOs and/or Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, but particularly in the border regions that are rarely frequented by tourists.
To help you make an informed decision about traveling in Mexico, here are some facts to consider:
1. The State Department does issue a state by state advisory for Mexico. Please make sure to review it here and take a look at your particular destination to see if any advisories are in effect for your particular destination.
2. Tourists and/or US citizens do not appear to be the targets of violent activity. While victims of narcotic-related violence have largely been members of TCOs, innocent persons including US citizens have been bystander victims of this activity.
3. Kidnappings and carjackings (sometimes for ransom) have occurred, particularly in border towns. Both locals and ex-patriots have been victimized. We do advise that you keep a low profile in displaying wealth while you travel. If you travel with your kids to Mexico, we advise that you do not allow them to wander around on their own and that you limit vehicle travel on your own to daylight hours along established routes.
4. Regions with warnings and advisories are typically along the US border and are not considered tourist destinations.
Most Mexico tours and travel packages take place in areas located far from the majority of the criminal activity in the country. Each traveler has an individual responsibility to diligently research the current safety situation before deciding which regions to visit.