posted by Shelley | last updated January 5, 2021
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Mexico solo travel safety on your mind?
Even if you’ve never traveled to Mexico, I’m sure you can imagine 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 received 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 been quite safe 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.
Now, I’m not telepathic or anything, but I still know what you’re thinking: But... Aren’t some parts of Mexico dangerous?
Ok, you got me there. Yes, some parts are dangerous, and some parts are very 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! Luckily, they are easy to avoid.
As tourism is Mexico’s largest industry, anywhere marketed to visitors and tourists (ie. anywhere you’re probably considering traveling to) is quite protected by the Mexican federal police, as well as local state police. Some very popular tourism areas, like Centro Historico in Mexico City, even have a special unit called the Mexico Tourist Police.
RELATED BLOG 🇲🇽 150 of Mexico City’s Best Things to Do, See & Eat
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Is Mexico solo travel safe?
Since it’s probably now quite obvious 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? Maybe. But I’d also like to think I’ve been a smart and aware traveler who, didn’t take too many unnecessary risks (while still having fun, of course!)
Below are the top 5 ways I believed I stayed safe during years of Mexico solo travel… and how you can too. Prefer your Mexico solo travel safety info in audio form? Check out the podcast below, one of the most downloaded episodes in the history of the Dream To Destination podcast.
Avoid risky situations
As this concept relates to solo travel safety, risk mitigation means lessening (AKA mitigating) the amount of 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, at least kind of, a risk! So how do we figure out which ones are necessary, and 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. I digress!)
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 home.”
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Take an Uber home
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 Uber’ing. It also meant nights when the weather was nice and I actually felt like walking; nights when my apartment was pretty close by; nights when whatever.
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 of how to mitigate risk while traveling solo.
💡 Pro Tip: 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. While prices will vary, figure about $4 for a 30-minute Uber ride.
Want extra solo travel peace of mind? Then don’t take any chances with your health and belongings while overseas. For this, I can’t recommend travel insurance enough! World Nomads is one of the most well reputed and used companies in the world for travel insurance.
Policies cover a range of circumstances, including medical and dental care, luggage loss, emergency evacuation from your destination & even certain adventure sport activities. For more information on travel insurance, I have a whole page dedicated to this topic. If safety is on your mind, get your free quote now!
11 General solo travel safety tips
1. Trust and listen to your intuition; its purpose is to keep you safe.
2. If you feel unsafe with the person you’re around or place you’re in, get away immediately. Don’t try to make a polite or politically correct exit — just get to safety.
3. Invest in an anti-theft travel book bag 🎒 or, use a cross body bag instead of a shoulder bag.
4. Don’t keep your phone in your back pocket.
5. Take your purse or book bag into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a café/bar neighbor to watch it.
6. Don’t ever leave your drink unattended in a bar, and don’t ever ask an acquaintance to watch it for you.
7. Try not to pull your phone or wallet out in a giant crowd.
8. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
9. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at any time, take a second to regain your composure. Head to a park, or even duck into a cafe, buy a water, and wait a bit until you feel better.
10. Don’t wear designer clothes, designer sunglasses, expensive jewelry and/or flashy clothes. Keep in mind, Mexican are relatively modest dressers.
11. Register for this STEP Program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Talk to the locals
“Asking around” includes other travelers, friendly locals you’re chatting with in the park, store, museum or cafe, your Airbnb host, hotel or hostel staff, servers and 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?
Admittedly: Nope! But then again, there’s no logical answer to the entire topic of this blog… (Side Note: Why do we place so much importance in logic over intuition!? I digress again 🤣🤣)
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 and warm. In fact, quantifiable studies of happiness say they are among the happiest people on the planet! I have found, after years of solo travel, Mexicans love sharing their culture, country and especially, their food.
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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.
Take a group tour
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean being alone the entire 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 that group tours are great for meeting other travelers, they save you the time and hassle of planning and coordinating, and of course, that there’s safety in numbers.
Do an Airbnb Experience
I have really grown to love Airbnb Experiences — but I’ve also found not many people know about them. They are tours, or experiences, led by locals who are experts in whatever they’re giving the tour/experience about. Examples I’ve seen of experiences include everything from Xochimilco boat cruises in Mexico City, to underwater photoshoots in Tulum cenotes.
Airbnb Experiences are also one of the easiest ways to meet people while traveling! I personally love, and do, them frequently.
Airbnb Experiences are also great because:
- You’re directly supporting a local and the local economy.
- They are usually smaller groups, which means a more personalized experience.
- You can instantly book them online, so you won’t have to spend your precious travel time finding a tour company.
- Like with an Airbnb stay, the guide gets rated at the end, motivating them to do a great job.
- They are a great way to meet other solo travelers!
Never done an Airbnb Experience?
Click “Experiences” in the blog below, input your travel dates and city, and see what unique things there are to do where you’re headed!
Don’t join a cartel
This flowchart below has made the rounds on social media and in Mexico travel forums — and it’s funny! — but it’s also true.
In all seriousness, the vast majority of the Mexico crimes you see on mainstream American news are linked to the drug cartels, and cartel-on-cartel violence. The cartels are a huge problem in Mexico, and there’s no way to spin that aspect of the country 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 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
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 I was left alone though, so dealing with them wasn’t too big of a deal.
Learn some Spanish
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 and leeway from locals when you at least try to speak their language. Locals especially appreciate when you make an effort to know the everyday basics and casual niceties.
In short: Knowing a little Spanish goes a long way!
Quite honestly, many Mexicans speak (at least) some English. This is especially true of workers in the service industry, people who live in bigger cities, and anyone working in Mexico’s most visited areas like Tulum and Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula. When you venture off the beaten path and into the pueblos (small towns), do expect fewer English speakers.
Regardless of where you’re traveling in Mexico, 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, or even the Duolingo Podcast.
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.
Have any great Mexico solo travel safety tips to share with fellow travelers?
Join the conversation in the comments down below.
Enjoy these related blogs!
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