If you're planning to vacation in Mexico, there are some points to consider in relation to your personal safety. Traveling to Mexico while on vacation can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don't know what to do to protect yourself.
When visiting Mexico, it's advisable to register with your local consulate or embassy to ensure that your government knows you're there. Usually you can email or call the embassy or consulate, but if it's close it never hurts to drop in and sign the registry. There are usually a lot of useful brochures available, as well as information about any travel advisory updates or weather warnings that could affect your vacation stay.
There are three reasons for making sure that your local foreign office knows of your whereabouts. First off, in the event of an emergency at home there's someone local that can attempt to reach you if need be. Secondly, if you become a victim of a crime you'll be able to receive immediate assistance from your government rather than have to go through local police alone. This is of vital importance if you are left without a passport, or without cash or credit cards. Lastly, if you should find yourself at odds with local law enforcement you're going to need the assistance of consular or embassy staff.
You should also make sure that you leave information regarding your travel plans with a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor. It's also a good idea to make copies of your airline tickets, travel itinerary, passport and any other travel documents, such as student or work visas that may be applicable. You should leave your original documents locked away in your room of the hotel safe and carry only copies with you.
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Also, always designate someone you know that is not traveling with you to be your emergency contact. Leave the second set of copies you made of your travel itinerary with the person acting as your emergency contact so he or she knows where you're supposed to be at specific times.
Palace Of Fine Arts Mexico City photo by Aex Covarrubias
Use common sense in hotels, on buses, taxis and trains, or even just walking in the streets of Mexico. You should always use caution no matter where you are, but especially when traveling by bus or other forms of public transportation within Mexico. You should always stay alert during night-time travel, as well as when traveling during times of the day when buses are full. Pickpockets have always been a problem on crowded buses and trains, but lately tourists being mugged while riding on public transportation is becoming more common. Don't flag down passing taxi cabs. Have your hotel arrange for your taxi. Many crimes are being reported by people who flag down passing taxis.
It should go without saying that you shouldn't carry large amounts of cash or wear flashy jewelry while in Mexico, or anywhere else for that matter. When you look and act like a tourist, you can count on having come to the attention of pickpockets, grifters and assorted lowlifes. If they don't see anything worth stealing from you they'll leave you alone and seek another tourist that looks worthwhile robbing.
Use caution when drinking in nightclubs or bars, especially during evening hours. People looking to victimize tourists will often resort to drugging them. Don't leave drinks unattended. If you want to dance or go to the wash-room finish your drink before you go, then order another when you return. And lastly, never let a stranger bring you a drink that was out of your sight. Most women know the risk of having date drugs slipped into their drinks, so instinctively protect themselves against having it happen. In Mexico however, drugs slipped into drinks are more likely to happen to men to incapacitate them enough to be easily robbed.
If you need help while in Mexico you should contact your consulate or embassy. However, there's also a 24 hour hotline for the Mexican Ministry of Tourism, which can help with a great many tourist related issues. Mexico of course has a version of the 911 emergency number to contact fire, police or ambulance. The emergency number within Mexico City is 060, and 066 for everywhere else in Mexico. There is also a Mexican chapter of the Red Cross that can help if you're injured and need medical help. The Red Cross provides basic medical assistance free of charge.
Being safe while on vacation in Mexico does not begin as soon as you arrive. Taking precautionary measures before you arrive, as well as during your entire stay will assure your Mexico vacation is memorable for all of the right reasons.