Let’s talk Mexico solo travel safety!
Even if you’ve never been to Mexico, I’m sure you agree the top question on everyone’s mind is some variation of:
“Is Mexico safe for travel?“
This is by farrrr the # 1 question I’ve been asked since beginning my Mexico solo travel journey back in April 2018!
My short answer to “Is Mexico dangerous?” is: No(t any more dangerous than most travel destinations). 👀See what I did there?!
In all seriousness, this answer to “Is Mexico safe?” is quite complex; but from my experience as a solo female traveler in Mexico — It has not been dangerous for me.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
But…… Isn’t Mexico statistically dangerous?
Well, that depends on the statistic, how it is presented & who’s interpreting it — that’s simply the nature of statistics! They can actually prove or disprove anything, if you think about it.
I’m not telepathic or anything, but I still know what you’re thinking:
So wait tho… Are some parts of Mexico dangerous?
Ok, you got me there.
Yes, some parts are dangerous & some parts are really dangerous (just like in every other country on Earth). I suppose Mexico has been safe, for me, because I avoid those notoriously unsafe places — and so should you!
So what’s the verdict?
Is Mexico safe for solo female travelers?
Since it’s probably now quite obvious by now that “Is Mexico solo travel safe?” can’t possibly have an officially official answer, I’ll say that from my experience throughout my years of solo travel in Mexico… I haven’t been in any situation where I felt unsafe.
Have I just been lucky?
But I’d also like to think I’ve been a smart & aware traveler who didn’t take too many unnecessary risks (while still having fun, of course!)
Here are the top 5 ways I believed I stayed safe during years of Mexico solo travel.
Table of Contents
Mexico Travel Tip #1. Try to Avoid Risky Situations
Try to always practice risk mitigation
As this concept relates to solo travel safety, risk mitigation means lessening (AKA mitigating) the amount unnecessary risks you take.
Let’s be honest though:
Travel is a risk. Driving a car is a risk. Leaving the house is a risk. Everything is a risk!
So how do we figure out which ones are necessary & which aren’t?
One word: Intuition.
Your inner voice (your higher self, your better judgement) knows what risks you absolutely need to take and which ones are you don’t. Truthfully, so does your conscious mind, but we often chose not to listen to our own better judgement.
For example, when do most crimes occur? At night. So I allowed my better judgement to guide me… and here’s what she said:
“Hey girl, hey. Never walk home alone at night. That risk isn’t worth taking! If something bad happens, you’re going to wonder forever why you didn’t just Uber.”
Take an Uber
Taking an Uber home literally Every. Single. Night. was a commitment I made to my own safety.
To be clear:
“Every. Single. Night.” included nights when I felt like I was being overly-cautious or uncool by Ubering, nights when the weather was nice & I actually felt like walking, nights when my apartment was pretty close by, and nights when whatever else was the case.
As a solo female traveler, not walking home alone at night was the closest I could get to a guarantee that nothing bad would happen to me at night. This is one example how I mitigated risk while traveling.
Side note: The amazing news for international travelers in Mexico is that Ubers are really inexpensive, as well as more convenient, faster, and generally safer, than public transportation.
General Female Travel Safety Tips
Worthwhile Mexico solo travel safety measures to take at all times:
- Use a cross body bag instead of a shoulder bag, and keep it at your side or on your chest, instead of on your back.
- Don’t put your phone in your back pocket!
- Take your purse or book bag into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a café neighbor to watch it. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
- Don’t pull your phone out in a giant crowd and/or if the vibe feels sketchy. Remember, your intuition is always right!
- If the vibe feels sketchy, duck into a cafe, buy a water, and wait a bit until you feel better about your surroundings.
- Not wearing flashy clothes or jewelry (Side Note: Mexicans are relatively modest dressers).
- Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
- Double check to make sure you have your “PKW” (or, Phone, Keys, Wallet) whenever you’re leaving one place to go to the next… I borrowed PKW from an episode of Broad City! I miss that show.
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Mexico Travel Tip #2. Ask the Locals
Don’t be afraid to ask around
This includes other travelers, friendly strangers you’re chatting with in the park, store, museum or cafe, your AirBnB host, hotel or hostel staff, servers & bartenders, etc.
When a few people told me a certain place was unsafe, or I should avoid somewhere altogether, I’d avoid it. No questions asked.
Again, because a few people say a place is dangerous, that doesn’t make it so! However, I took it as a sign from the Universe that several people happened to mention this one particular place.
Is that logical?
But then again, there’s no logical answer to the entire topic of this blog… and Side Note: Why do we place so much importance in logic over intuition!? (I digress 🤣)
Asking locals isn’t an exact science. However, locals for sure knew better than the internet, and they certainly knew better than I did because I had zero knowledge!
Mexicans are super friendly
In my experience, Mexican people are welcoming & warm. In fact, quantifiable studies of happiness say they are among the happiest people on the planet! They love sharing their culture, country & especially their food.
The expression “Mi Casa, Su Casa” (My House is Your House) is a way of life in Mexico, more so than a phrase sewn on a throw pillow. While the casa in the expression does literally mean a house, this hospitality also applies to the country itself.
Now, please don’t take that to mean drop your guard and go solicit advice from any breathing person. There are great people in Mexico and not-so-great people. Again, your intuition will help you select a good info source.
Mexico Travel Tip #3. Take a Group Tour
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean being alone the whole time
If there’s somewhere you want to go that doesn’t have the best reputation for a solo female traveler, take a group tour.
In fact, nearly all day trips I took to pueblos (small towns) and sites outside of the big cities, were with groups. While yes, they are pricier than DIY traveling… they also have worthwhile benefits!
Some of the benefits include:
Group tours are great for meeting other travelers and they save you the time & hassle of planning & coordinating, in addition to being safer!
Consider an AirBnB Experience
Something I grew to love: AirBnB Experiences. They’re led by locals who are experts in whatever they are giving tours about.
I have seen everything from a tour of Mexico City’s famous Teotihuacán pyramid site with an anthropologist as your guide, to street food taco tours with a Mexican chef, and sunrise yoga/meditation sessions at beaches only locals know about.
While they may be a little more expensive than a general group tour, AirBnB Experiences are great because:
- You’re directly supporting a local.
- They are usually smaller groups & often end up being private tours!
- You can instantly book them & pay online (Pro Tip: Credit cards are used far less in Mexico than the U.S. & pulling out extra cash means added ATM/bank fees.)
- Like with an AirBnB stay, the guide gets rated at the end so they are motivated to do a great job.
Mexico Travel Tip #4. Don't Join a Cartel
In case this wasn’t obvious: Don’t Join a Cartel
This flowchart has made the rounds on social media and in Mexico travel forums — and it is hilarious! And also true.
In all seriousness, the vast majority of the Mexico crimes you see on mainstream American news are linked to the cartels. The cartels are a huge problem & there’s no way to spin that aspect of Mexico in a positive direction, so I won’t even try.
Also: Don’t buy drugs
Staying away from the cartels doesn’t just mean not hanging out with to someone from a cartel. It also means this:
NOT buying drugs from them.
This goes back to risk mitigation & the question of Is this a necessary risk? Think of it like this: Two of the worst case scenarios of buying drugs off a random cartel dealer means jail time or a hospital stay.
For me, I wanted nothing to do with either of those places, so I avoided any & all things related to the cartels — and stayed safe.
Drugs in Quintana Roo State
Out of all the states I’ve visited, the one with (by far) the most overt cartel activity was Quintana Roo — where Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen & Riviera Maya are located.
These are some of the country’s biggest party towns, so expect that you’ll get approached to buy drugs.
A simple “No, gracias” and you should be left alone though, so dealing with them wasn’t too big of a deal.
Mexico Travel Tip #5. Learn Some Spanish
Every Mexico traveler should know the absolute basics
I personally experienced a huge shift in my solo female traveler confidence when I started to learn Spanish.
It is commonly known among travelers that you get more respect & leeway from locals when you at least try to speak their language. They especially appreciate when you make an effort to know the everyday basics & casual niceties.
Basically: Knowing a little Spanish will go a long way!
Quite honestly, many Mexicans speak (at least) some English. This is especially true of workers in the service industry, and also of people who live in bigger cities.
However, it is definitely seen as a sign of respect when you know some Spanish. By some, we’re talking about 30 or so words/phrases, which you can learn over a few weeks on the free Duolingo app.
Your FREE basic Spanish list
If learning Spanish just isn’t in the cards for you, #NoJudgement.
In fact, here’s a pretty infographic you can pin on Pinterest for later, and also save to your phone as an image, so you can access it even if you’re off-WiFi.
Got any awesome Mexico solo travel safety tips?
The more solo safety tips the better, amirite? Since no two travelers travel alike, there’s always something valuable to learn from other solo female travelers as to how they successfully & safely travel.
Let me know in the comments down below what tips you’d add to this list. Also, which tip from this list resonated with you most?!
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