Greetings from the airport as I wait to board my plane to Mexico! I'm so excited to be heading to Playa del Carmen first for some R&R and girl time with my sister, and then for a week full of meetings and networking opportunities at the prestigious ILTM conference with the top luxury brands in the world. It's going to be a whirlwind, and I hope you follow along on social media!
Due to recent news articles and information that has been swirling around, I thought it would be helpful to share my own perspective on travel to Mexico (…or insert many other destinations), and the apparent safety issue that is causing some to have concern.
Playa del Carmen is in the state of Quintana Roo, one of the two states where there has been a recent upgrade to the travel warning (with the other being Baja California Sur - where Cabo is located). These two states happen to be where the majority of Americans head for their beach vacations, so of course a travel warning like that is something I need to be aware of.
When you look at a travel warning to anywhere in the world, I think it’s important to understand what, exactly, it’s saying. In regards to the upgraded travel warning in Mexico, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Where criminal activity has increased, it mostly is still crime on crime, not targeted at U.S. citizens. According to the U.S. state department, "there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality.” It’s an important distinction to note is that the warning does not recommend avoiding travel altogether, as it sometimes will for certain destinations, but is an update about the risk in certain areas. The risk has gone up, but statistically speaking, most of us are better off traveling if we are worried about crime.
- In regards to overall crime index rates, did you know that there are 6 cities in the U.S. that come before the first city in Mexico? It’s important to follow common sense guidelines in Mexico, just as you would in any other American city.
- The advisory update covers two states, and not the whole country. We wouldn’t bring up the crime rate in Chicago when people talk about visiting Disneyland, would we? But in fact, this is what happens. There have been many countries that have issued warnings and alerts to their citizens about travel to the United States (about street crime, the Zika virus, police protests and other issues).
- In regards to the tainted alcohol issue a few months back, there was a lot of media hoopla around that, but that is also what the media does — they sensationalize stories. The best thing you can do? Don't drink excessively, drink recognized brands of alcohol at known resorts, and watch the bartender make your drink. Or… stick to beer you can open yourself.
At the end of the day, this is what I truly believe — you must go where you feel comfortable. I feel very comfortable in Mexico, and that hasn’t changed. Just like I still feel comfortable going to Paris… or London… or staying home in America.
While and updated warning is certainly worth paying attention to, as travelers we need to continue to be aware of what’s possible and pay attention to our surroundings while at home and abroad in order to remain safe. Yes, keep your valuables in the hotel safe, don’t wander the streets at night, keep your alcohol consumption in check, stay away from protests/demonstrations, and exercise your god-given common sense at all times.
Whatever you do, don’t stop traveling.