I’m a huge fan of travel to Mexico. Since I started traveling, I’ve probably been to Mexico 35 times, 20 of which I’ve gone solo.
One of the reasons I visit Mexico so often is because it’s close and it’s an amazing place. I live in Austin, TX, so a plane trip to Mexico is fast, affordable, and by now, I know my way around enough so that the trip is pretty stress-free.
One of the most common questions that I get when talking to my clients about Mexico travel plans is whether or not Mexico is safe for solo female travel.
I’ll be talking about my most recent trip to San Miguel and they’ll be looking at me with a puzzled look, asking, “is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?”
Bottom line: Mexico is a safe travel destination as long as you follow my guidance, stick to some of the more travel and tourist-friendly destinations, and use common sense.
How Safe is Mexico for Travel?
Let’s address the elephant in the room. I’m sure you’ve heard about the drug cartels and the danger they represent. Depending on where you get your information and who you’re listening to, you could hear a wide range of cautionary tales.
The truth is that there are cartels in Mexico and they can be dangerous. But if you’re going to be traveling to one of the dozens upon dozens of tourist-centric destinations, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any sort of cartel-related activity.
There are certain rules to follow that will help keep you safe during your Mexico vacation and I’ll get into them below.
Download FREE Travel to Mexico Guide
Are you ready to visit Mexico? Mexico is such a diverse and beautiful country. There is so much to see and do, and this FREE guide gives you tons of tips and tricks to make your trip to Mexico epic. I love Mexico and I want to make your travels easier and more fun! Have a blast!
7 Tips for Avoiding Drug Cartel Activity While Traveling in Mexico
Tip #1: Research Your Destination
Before you travel to Mexico, research the areas you plan to visit. Some areas of the country are more prone to drug cartel activity than others, so it’s important to be aware of any potential risks. Check travel advisories and avoid areas where drug cartel activity has been reported. Also, check the news and stay away from areas that are having protests and demonstrations.
Tip #2: Stay in Reputable Accommodations
Choose reputable accommodations like well-known hotels or established Airbnb rentals. Avoid staying in remote or isolated areas and do not accept offers from strangers to stay in their homes.
Tip #3: Avoid Suspicious Behavior
Avoid suspicious behavior that may attract the attention of drug cartels. This includes not wearing flashy jewelry or carrying large sums of cash. Additionally, do not get involved in illegal activities or drugs, even if you are offered them, as this can put you in danger.
Tip #4: Use Reputable Transportation
Use reputable transportation options like registered taxis or ride-sharing services, especially at night. Avoid using public transportation in areas known for drug cartel activity.
Tip #5: Stay in Well-lit Areas
Stick to well-lit areas and avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. If possible, travel with a group or hire a local guide who knows the area.
Tip #6: Keep a Low Profile
Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying expensive jewelry, watches, or cameras. Keep your cash and valuables in a secure place and avoid flashing them in public.
Tip #7: Follow the Instructions of Local Authorities
If you are caught up in any violence or dangerous situations, follow the instructions of local authorities and seek shelter in a safe location.
By following these tips, you can minimize your risk of encountering drug-related violence while traveling in Mexico. It’s also important to stay informed and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Remember that while drug cartel activity does occur in some parts of Mexico, many areas are perfectly safe for tourists. By taking precautions and using common sense, you can minimize your risk of encountering drug cartel activity while traveling in Mexico.
Tips for Solo Female Travel in Mexico
Solo Travel Tip #1: Dress Conservatively
Dressing modestly and avoiding revealing clothing can help you avoid unwanted attention. In some areas of Mexico, it’s best to blend in and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
Solo Travel Tip #2: Stay in Reputable Accommodations
Stay in reputable hotels or hostels with good reviews. Avoid staying in remote or isolated areas and do not accept offers from strangers to stay in their homes. Always read a few of the ‘bad reviews’, as these will give you some insight into the pitfalls at your potential accommodation.
Solo Travel Tip #3: Use Reputable Transportation
Use reputable transportation options like registered taxis or ride-sharing services, especially at night. Avoid using public transportation in areas known for safety concerns. I would recommend letting your hotel or accommodation order a car/taxi for you. I regularly take the ADO bus between cities, but I always take these buses during the day, and I tend to stay away from local buses, as taxis are relatively inexpensive.
Solo Travel Tip #4: Stay Connected
Stay in touch with friends and family back home and let them know your itinerary and when you plan to return. Carry a charged mobile phone with you at all times.
Solo Travel Tip #5: Trust Your Instincts
If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night or in unfamiliar areas.
Solo Travel Tip #6: Renting a Car
If you are going to rent a car, I recommend driving during daylight hours only. I also recommend shorter driving distances, and more local driving. For example, I will rent a car in Tulum to go to the area cenotes, ruins and activities, but I would not rent a car to drive from Mexico City to Acapulco.
Solo Travel Tip #7: Cash and Identification
I recommend keeping your driver’s license with you instead of your passport. You must have your passport to return to your home country, whereas if you lose your driver’s license, it will be easy to replace once you are back home.
A Little About Mexican Culture
Mexican culture is much more conservative than some other countries around the world as they are primarily a catholic population and have a history of being a conservative culture, especially in larger cities. My recommendation is to wear clothes that are a bit more conservative in places like Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca. Choose darker colors and longer pants or skirts. (Check out my favorite Colombia skort here). Additionally, in smaller local villages, I also suggest that you dress conservatively.
Although it’s a somewhat conservative country , in the beach towns and islands, almost anything goes. The Spanish coastline is full of tourists from all over the world, and the attire varies from conservative dresses to topless beaches and everything in between. Still, be respectful and don’t let everything hang out 🙂
Quick Tips for a Safe Mexico Travel Experience
- Take photos of your passport, ID & Credit cards, and email them to yourself, and save them on your phone under your favorites.
- Send your travel itinerary to someone – this ensures that there’s always someone in the know about where you are and where you’re supposed to be
- Make sure you have In Case of Emergency (ICE) listed in in your contacts on your phone
- If you are using dating or BFF apps, make sure to meet people in public. Don’t let them pick you up or drop you off.
- Mexico has the same emergency number, 911.
- Pickpocketing is common in large cities, especially Mexico City. Please make sure that you carry your bag in front of you in crowded markets, and don’t leave your phone or wallet in your side or back pocket. Also, make sure that your bag has a zipper that isn’t easy to unzip.
- When in a cafe or restaurant, keep your purse in your lap, or wrap the strap over one knee and cross your other leg over the top of the strap DO NOT hang your purse over the back of your chair.
Mexico Travel Safety FAQ’s
Below are some of the most common questions about travel safety in Mexico and comprehensive answers to them.
Is it Safe to Use Public Transportation in Mexico?
The safety of public transportation in Mexico can vary depending on the area and the type of transportation used. While there have been some safety concerns associated with public transportation in certain areas of Mexico, many tourists use public transportation without incident.
To stay safe while using public transportation in Mexico, here are some tips:
- Research the transportation options: Research the transportation options available in the area you plan to visit. Some cities have reliable and safe public transportation, while others do not.
- Use reputable transportation services: Use reputable taxi services or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Avoid using unlicensed taxis or buses that are overcrowded.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Avoid displaying valuables or carrying large amounts of cash.
- Use caution at night: Avoid using public transportation at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. If you must use public transportation at night, stick to well-lit and busy routes.
- Follow local customs: Learn about local customs and practices related to public transportation. For example, in some areas it’s common for passengers to call out their desired stop to the driver, while in other areas the driver will stop at every stop regardless.
Overall, it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks when using public transportation in Mexico. If you are unsure about the safety of a particular transportation option, it’s best to choose an alternative option or speak to locals for advice.
Is it Safe to Drink the Water in Mexico?
In general, it is not safe to drink tap water in Mexico.
The tap water in Mexico may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause illness.
However, there are some areas in Mexico where the tap water is safe to drink, such as some parts of Mexico City, but it’s best to check with locals or your hotel staff before drinking tap water in any area. Me? I always drink bottled water!
To stay safe, here are some tips for drinking water in Mexico:
- Drink bottled water: Drink bottled water that is sealed when purchased. Make sure the cap is intact and hasn’t been tampered with.
- Avoid ice made from tap water: Avoid drinks with ice made from tap water. Ice made from purified water is usually safe. Most high quality restaurants and hotels will have purified ice; you can simply ask them if their ice is safe to drink.
- Use water purification methods: If you are unsure about the quality of the water, you can use water purification methods such as boiling water for at least one minute, using a water purification tablet, or using a water filtration system.
- Wash fruits and vegetables: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly with purified water before eating them.
- Avoid swimming in contaminated water: Avoid swimming in bodies of water that may be contaminated, such as lakes, rivers, or streams.
Getting a strange bacteria is not uncommon wherever you travel, and by taking extra precautions, you will keep your tummy healthy. Ps. I will typically get a small tummy issue once out of every 8-10 trips to Mexico.
What Should I Do if I Encounter a Problem in Mexico?
In Mexico, the emergency phone number is 911. This number can be used to contact police, medical services, and the fire department in case of an emergency. The 911 emergency service is available in most parts of Mexico, including major cities and tourist destinations.
It’s important to note that the emergency services may not always speak English, so it’s helpful to have some basic Spanish language skills or a translation app on your phone.
Additionally, if you are traveling to a more remote area, it’s important to research the local emergency phone number and keep it handy in case of an emergency.
If you are attacked in Mexico, it’s important to take action immediately to ensure your safety. Here are some steps you can take:
- Get to a safe place: If possible, get to a safe place away from the attacker. Look for a well-lit public area or a business where you can seek help.
- Contact the authorities: Call the police or emergency services (911) as soon as possible. Provide them with your location and a description of the attacker.
- Seek medical attention: If you have been injured, seek medical attention right away. If you are in a tourist area, look for medical facilities that cater to tourists and speak English.
- Report the incident: Report the incident to the local police or embassy or consulate of your home country. They can assist you with filing a police report and provide you with other support and resources.
- Document the incident: Document the incident by taking photos of any injuries or damages and keeping a record of any expenses you incur as a result of the attack.
- Seek emotional support: An attack can be traumatic, so it’s important to seek emotional support if you need it. This may include speaking to a mental health professional or reaching out to friends and family for support.
Remember, prevention is the best defense. Always be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, and stay in well-lit areas. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation.
Are There Certain Times of the Year that are Safer to Visit Mexico?
While there is no completely safe time to travel to Mexico, there are certain times of the year that may be safer than others. Here are some factors to consider:
- High season vs. low season: The high season for tourism in Mexico is generally from December to April, and the low season is from May to November. During the high season, there are generally more tourists and a higher police presence in tourist areas, which may help to deter crime.
- Holidays and festivals: Mexico has a number of holidays and festivals throughout the year, including the Day of the Dead in late October and early November, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in the spring, and Independence Day in September. While these celebrations can be a lot of fun, they may also attract large crowds and pickpockets or other criminals who prey on tourists.
- Weather patterns: Mexico has a tropical climate, and some areas may be more prone to hurricanes or other natural disasters during certain times of the year. It’s important to be aware of weather patterns and any potential risks before traveling.
- Political and social instability: Certain areas of Mexico may be more prone to political or social unrest at different times of the year. It’s important to stay informed about current events and any potential risks before traveling.
Ultimately, the best way to stay safe when traveling to Mexico is to do your research and exercise caution at all times. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid high-crime areas, and take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.