Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico?

The safety of traveling to Mexico has become a concern following recent incidents of kidnapping and killings involving Americans. While officials emphasize that most parts of Mexico can be visited safely, it raises the question of why people still choose to go to areas cautioned against by the United States.

Is Traveling to Mexico Safe?

The safety of traveling to Mexico depends on the specific destination. The U.S. State Department issues different levels of travel advisories for international territories. Out of the 32 states in Mexico, 19 of them are under an “Exercise Normal Precaution” or “Exercise Increased Caution” advisory level. These advisories are primarily due to petty crimes and a low risk of kidnapping.

However, there are seven states under a “Reconsider Travel” advisory due to a higher risk of crime, and six states, including Tamaulipas where recent kidnappings occurred, are classified as “Do Not Travel.” This highest warning level is issued when there is a “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.” It is advised that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to these areas or leave as soon as it is safe to do so.

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Outside of these areas, it is generally considered safe to travel to Mexico, especially in high-traffic tourist destinations. Recent kidnappings in Tamaulipas happened far from the most sought-after tourist spots. For example, Matamoros, where the incidents occurred, is about 1,360 miles away from Cancún.

Why Does the U.S. Caution Against Travel to Some Mexican States?

According to the State Department, “violent crime — such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery — is widespread and common” in areas under travel advisories. The U.S. government may not be able to provide emergency services to Americans in many parts of Mexico, and even travel by U.S. government employees is restricted in these areas.

The violence is largely fueled by conflicts between Mexican drug cartels. Cartel activity has increased, particularly following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, a leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Local and state-level police departments have been disbanded due to corruption ties with criminal organizations.

Why Do Some People Ignore the Warnings?

Despite the warnings, many people, especially college students, choose to visit Mexico for Spring Break. Guerrero, which includes the resort city of Acapulco, is on the “Do Not Travel” advisory list. Other resort areas along the border states have similar advisories.

Another reason people travel to Mexico, as seen in the case of the kidnapped Americans, is for medical tourism. Mexico is a top destination for medical and dental travel markets, attracting a significant number of individuals seeking plastic surgery, dental work, cosmetic procedures, and orthopedic surgeries. Medical tourism is a vital industry for Mexico’s economy.

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What Should You Do if You Want to Go to Mexico?

If you still want to travel to Mexico, there are precautions you can take to stay safe. Research your destination thoroughly and consider purchasing travel insurance to cover any medical emergencies or theft. It is advised to keep a low profile and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Common sense precautions like avoiding wandering alone at night should also be practiced.

While it is relatively safe to visit tourist destinations and major urban centers like Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, caution should always be exercised.


Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about traveling to Mexico.


Traveling to Mexico can be safe, provided that travelers are aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions. By staying informed, exercising caution, and researching destinations, individuals can minimize potential dangers and enjoy their time in this beautiful country.

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