Travelers heading to Mexico this winter or for spring break should take caution or, in some instances, consider canceling their trip. The U.S. State Department has travel advisories in place for all but two Mexican states. Six Mexican states are under the most severe level 4 “do not travel” advisory.
Rather than issue a blanket travel warning for the entire country, the U.S. Department of State assesses the risk level of each of Mexico’s 32 states and issues a separate advisory for each state. The warnings are based on the threat level to U.S. citizens, including government employees, expats, digital nomads, and tourists.
Why Are There Travel Warnings In Mexico?
Travel warnings can be issued for any number of reasons, but in Mexico’s instance, it is due to an increased risk of violent crime. According to the State Department’s warning, homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery is currently widespread in Mexico. Additionally, the U.S. government and local authorities have limited ability to help Americans who need assistance in certain areas.
Recent incidents have included violence that erupted in the state of Sinaloa and an ongoing dispute between Uber and taxi drivers that has become aggressive in Cancun. While violence and kidnappings are generally not targeted toward tourists, there have been incidents where innocent bystanders have been injured or killed during altercations.
What Does The Travel Warning Mean?
The U.S. government has urged Americans to obey the same restrictions they have placed on U.S. government employees in Mexico. Specifically, U.S. government employees are advised to:
- Avoid travel between cities after dark
- Avoid hailing taxis on the street
- Do not travel alone, especially in remote areas
- Do not drive from the U.S. – Mexico border to interior parts of the country, with a few exceptions
Additionally, there are precautions tourists can take to reduce their risk of danger while visiting Mexico. Specifically, all visitors should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and inform family back home of their plans. Travelers should also avoid displaying obvious signs of wealth and be extra cautious when visiting ATMs or banks.
What To Do If You Need Help In Mexico?
If you do find yourself needing assistance while visiting Mexico, you can call for help by dialing 911. Inform local authorities of any issues and file a Mexican police report if needed. Additionally, U.S. citizens should also contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate if help is needed. The embassy can help find medical care, provide a list of local attorneys, and help arrange accommodation and flights home in the case of an emergency.
Which Mexican Locations Have A Travel Warning?
Six Mexican states currently have a level 4 “do not travel” warning, and seven states are under a level 3 “reconsider travel” advisory. All but 2 of the remaining states are under a level 2 advisory where travelers should “exercise increased caution”. The only 2 regions with no current advisory are Campeche and Yucatan. That means that most of Mexico’s popular tourist destinations are currently under advisory. Below is a list of the advisories, along with popular tourist destinations within that state.
Level 4 – Do Not Travel
- Colima – Colima City, Manzanillo, Comala
- Guerrero – Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Taxco, Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park, Acapulco, Mil Cascades Waterfalls
- Michoacan – Morelia, Patzcuaro
- Sinaloa – Mazatlan, Culiacan
- Tamaulipas – El Cielo Biosphere
- Zacatecas – Zacatecas City
Level 3 – Reconsider Travel
- Baja California –Tijuana, Ensenada
- Chihuahua – Chihuahua City, Copper Canyon
- Durango –Mapimí Biosphere Reserve
- Guanajuato – Guanajuato City, San Miguel de Allende, Canada de la Virgen Ruins
- Jalisco – Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Tequila, Ajijic, San Sebastián del Oeste
- Morelos – Tepoztlan, Las Estacas National Park, Xochicalco Ruins
- Sonora – El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve
Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution
- Aguascalientes – Aguascalientes City
- Baja California Sur – Los Cabos, La Paz
- Chiapas – San Cristobal del las Casas, Palenque Ruins, Montebello Lagoons
- Hidalgo – Grutas de Tolantongo, Tollan Ruins, Huasca de Ocampo (Basaltic Prisims)
- Mexico City – Mexico City
- Mexico state – Mesoamerican Teotihuacan, Cuauhtinchan Archeological Zone
- Nayarit – Sayulita, Punta Mita, Nuevo Vallarta, San Pancho, San Blas
- Nuevo Leon
- Oaxaca – Oaxaca City, Puerto Escondido, San Jose del Pacifico
- Puebla – Puebla City, Cholula, Pico de Orzaba
- Queretaro – Queretaro City, Sierra Gorda UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
- Quintana Roo – Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel
- San Luis Potosi – Huasteca Potosina, Xilitla Surrealist Gardens
- Tlaxcala – Cacaxtla Archaeological Site, Huamantla
Is It Safe To Visit Mexico Right Now?
Each traveler needs to assess their own vulnerability and comfort level before deciding if they should travel to Mexico right now. Generally, if one remains in tourist areas and takes the recommended precautions, their risk of coming into contact with violence and crime is minimal. However, it is always important to be aware and prepared regardless of where you are traveling.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com