The U.S. State Department estimates that upwards of 100,000 American teens, young adults and families with children of all ages travel to Mexico’s most popular beach destinations for spring break each year. These areas include Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum on Mexico’s stunning Caribbean Coast, as well as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit on its Pacific Coast.
In fact, the U.S. State Department also points out that “millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day,” and goes on to highlight Mexico’s resort areas and tourist destinations as the safest places in the country.
While all of the above named towns are quite safe – even safer than many U.S. cities –it still helps to understand the local laws, so we’ve put together a list of the top five safety tips for travelers visiting Mexico to ensure they get the most out of spring break:
1. Alcohol in Public
As in most parts of the U.S., it is technically illegal to walk around publicly in most parts of Mexico with an open container of alcohol, but it often happens anyway – especially during spring break. Just be careful and avoid getting too rowdy if you do indulge in public drinking and you should be able to avoid trouble in most instances.
2. Taxi Rides
Be sure to use only the licensed sitio (pronounced see-tee-oh) taxis, as they are regulated and therefore much safer than unlicensed cabs.
3. Drug Use
Although Mexico decriminalized the possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis in 2009, don’t think for a minute that police won’t detain you for having that amount or less. Not to mention, simply trying to find drugs is inherently dangerous. Also, harder drugs like cocaine, heroine and meth are even more likely to lead to trouble, so your best bet is to avoid the drug scene altogether and instead focus on enjoying all the natural beauty and fun legal activities Mexico has to offer!
4. Swimming in the Ocean
Just because there is no warning sign posted on a seemingly quiet beach does not mean it is safe for swimming. Instead, stick to beaches that are at least sparsely populated, or better yet that have at least one lifeguard on duty. Also, take time to check the local warnings about rough seas – and whenever black or red flags are displayed, stay out of the water.
A U.S. driver’s license will permit you to drive in Mexico, just be sure the owner of the vehicle is with you when driving a local’s car and that your rental is properly licensed. In the event of an accident you may have to pay a penalty, so it’s always a good idea to purchase full coverage or third-party insurance that will cover any costs.
Do you have any additional tips for a safe and happy spring break in Mexico? If so, we would love to hear them in the comments section below!