5 Tips for Traveling to Mexico

These days, traveling into Mexico can be pretty dangerous for U.S. citizens or anyone else for that matter. Regardless, thousands and thousands of people travel into the country regularly for one reason or another. Heading into the country doesn’t mean that you will automatically be in danger, but the risks are always there. Still, you shouldn’t avoid the country if you need to visit family there or just want to go there on vacation. Here are some tips for U.S. citizens going to Mexico.

Always bring your passport.
Obviously, a passport is required to travel between the U.S. and Mexico nowadays. Your passport is the only thing that can prove you are a U.S. citizen and legally able to move between both countries freely. Forgetting your password or losing it means that you are guaranteed an extended stay in the country with no way to get across the border. Undoubtedly, most people don’t want to wait or can’t afford to wait in a foreign country, so it’s absolutely necessary to bring your passport.

Enroll in STEP and know how to contact the embassy.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is useful for all people traveling into Mexico. For starters, the embassy will know that you are in the country and can provide you with services in case of an emergency. Also, you should travel to Mexico with the contact information of the U.S. embassy and local consulates so that you can get assistance when you need it. There are plenty of ways in which the embassy can assist U.S. citizens, so the information is valuable to know.

Avoid the more dangerous regions.
Mexico’s issues with drug cartels and violence are well-known in the United States and elsewhere, so you need to be careful while in the country. Without a doubt, you should avoid the more dangerous locations in Mexico, which include border states like Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez. There are plenty of other areas that can be dangerous for U.S. citizens and Mexican citizens alike. Fortunately, the Department of State regularly issues warnings about problem cities in the region, and STEP will alert you of any new events.

Don’t even think about bringing a self-defense weapon.
Unfortunately, Mexico is extremely strict when it comes to weapons in its country. That includes firearms, knives, and other self-defense weapons. Firearms are 100% illegal in the country if you don’t have a special permit. For the most part, knives are illegal too if you don’t have a valid reason for traveling with one – it’s best not to bring one. Other items like stun guns can get you into some pretty big legal trouble too. Don’t bring weapons into the country under any circumstances.

Stay away from the water (in most cases).
The water in Mexico isn’t very safe for U.S. citizens because it usually isn’t treated. Therefore, drinking the tap water is a bad idea. It’s also a bad idea to swim in hotel pools or some oceans due to contamination and other issues. You should always drink bottled water in the country and stay away from the non-tourist area water sources like pools and beaches. Undoubtedly, you will be able to avoid getting seriously ill by staying away from tap water and potentially contaminated pools or oceans.

There are great spots in Mexico still!
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens visit Mexico each year for one reason or another. Without a doubt, it’s easily possible to have a great trip to the country south of the border. Tourist areas like Cancun are widely popular and see visitors throughout the year. You shouldn’t be too afraid of traveling into Mexico, but you should be aware of the potential dangers that are out there. In the end, preparation and knowledge will allow you to have a great time in the country.

For more information, visit Mexico (U.S. Dept. of State).