I LOVE visiting Mexico! I've traveled there 3-4 times per year for the past 15 years. Often it's to do hotel reviews or to gather updated information for our Vacationkids website. My family has also spent many of our personal vacations in Mexico. If you check out our Hotel Reviews, you'll see many photos of my staff and I visiting different areas of Mexico over the years.
I will often recommend Mexico to my clients. When new acquantences find out I'm a travel agent, one of the first questions I'm always asked is "where do you like to go on vacation?" Often the response is "Mexico? Are you out of your mind?...Followed by comments on violence and drug wars.
These are the stereotypical responses that I have come to expect. As a frequent traveler to Mexico, I can speak from my own personal experience. Over the years, my family, staff and I have not experienced any of the problems sensationalized in the news media...this includes visits during hurricanes and the swine flu "epidemic".
I have also learned that when you teach people the facts, it can change their perspective and open their eyes to a wonderful new world. If you dig a little deeper and do a little homework, the facts about crime in Mexico might just surprise you.
Is there crime and horrible drug wars in Mexico, absolutely!
Is there crime and gang violence in the U.S., Absolutely!
As parents, we want to keep our kids safe at all costs both at home and on vacation. The important thing to remember is that unfortunately there is no place perfect in this world. Bad things can randomly happen to really good people, both at home and abroad. When you compare statistics, the crime risks can actually be higher at home and in other family friendly vacation spots then they are in Mexico.
The country of Mexico stretches for over 2,000 miles. Just like we have 50 states here in America, Mexico has 31 states. Only 4 of the Mexican states located along the U.S. border and interior of the country should be avoided due to drug violence. The tourist areas of Mexico where over 6 million visitors flock every year to enjoy Mexico's breathtaking beaches, amazing cuisine and culture are located hundreds of miles away from these areas. If you were to put this geography into perspective, it would be like saying you need to cancel your family's vacation to Florida due to the terrorist bombings in Boston.
And...here's the kicker - The 28 remaining Mexican states have a much lower incidence of violent crimes than most U.S. states. According to the FBI, the homicide rate in Cancun and the popular Mexican tourist areas of the Riviera Maya are comparable to those found in the rural states of Maine, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon. The murder rate in New Orleans is 4 times higher than all of Mexico, yet most Americans wouldn't think twice about spending vacation time in the Big Easy.
The statistics for violent assaults in the United States is 5 times higher than it is in Mexico. Many Americans are often shocked by this reality. Americans who have limited or no overseas travel experience are even more shocked by how many foreigners consider travel TO the U.S. unsafe or risky. For a unique perspective, check out British travel warnings for the U.S.
Speaking of foreign countries, Mexico ranks 21st behind many popular overseas vacation destinations according to U.N. crime statistics. Sweden and Switzerland have significantly higher homicide rates than Mexico as do many Caribbean islands. Still the public has this overall unfair perception of Mexico being an extremely dangerous place to visit.
When it comes to statistics, I tend to travel by comparison more frequently than many people. In all of my travels around the world, I've happy to say, I've only had two encounters that have frightened me. The first happened in Orlando. I allowed my 17 year old son to walk next door to our hotel to get a burger from a fast food restaurant. He ended up being a witness to an armed robbery. The second incident happened to me in the Dominican Republic as I walked alone down a busy sidewalk from my hotel to a near by shopping mall in the middle of the afternoon to get a new battery for my camera. I was accosted by several men who thought I might be looking for sexual favors. Thank heavens both of these situations only frightened me and no harm came to either my son or myself. I have learned from these experiences and have visited both of these destinations many more times since these incidents. Even though I was frightened, I appreciate that all the good things about travel certainly outweigh any of the bad.
During my countless visits to Mexico, I have never encountered any similar experience. I have visited Mexico alone and have rented cars to drive myself to business appointments. I have visited as a single mom with just my kids. I have never been made to feel threatened or unsafe by anyone I have ever encountered there. Actually my experience has been the complete and total opposite.
So is Mexico Safe? I believe it is as safe or safer than many other popular family friendly vacation destinations. As a mom, I would never recommend anything to another family if it wasn't safe enough for my own kids. As a travel professional, I know the facts and can separate it from the fiction put out there by the media. As a frequent visitor I know first hand how wonderful Mexico is as a destination and how welcoming the people make me feel there. So in my humble opinion, I say the answer is to this question is YES!