Is Mexico Safe?: How to Stay Safe in Mexico [Travel Safety Tips]


And this guy comes out
with a machete out of the woods just out of nowhere.
Hola amigos! Jim and May here from Spanish and Go and we’re
coming at you from Guanajuato, Mexico. A Level Two on the U.S.
State Department travel advisory scale. But why do we mention that?
Well, because there’s a question we get asked all the time.
Is Mexico dangerous? So, after years of living
and traveling in Mexico we feel very qualified to answer that
question. So in this video we’re going
to give you nine tips for traveling safely through Mexico.
Emecemos. Drugs. Rape.
Murder. Dismembering.
Kidnapping. Crime. These are all things that people
tend to associate with Mexico. But why? If you come to Mexico
are you going to get kidnapped or murdered? The reality
of the situation is quite different than what the media
often portrays. The U.S. State Department
has a travel advisory scale level which goes from one to
four. Number four being do not go there. And there’s five
states in Mexico which are in the four level which are.
Colima, Michoacán,
Guerrero, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.
And from those five states we have visited three and I have
from one of them. I am from Colima. And Colima is now
supposedly the most dangerous place in Mexico right now. And Colima is actually where
we’ve spent the most time in Mexico. We’ve even hitchhiked
there and we’re still alive. So we’ve traveled all over
Mexico flying, taking trains, driving for hours, and have we
ever felt unsafe May? Not really. We know that most of
the violence here in Mexico is related to cartels
so if you’re coming to Mexico and you have no plans of buying
or selling drugs you are doing a lot already to protect
yourself from crime. That’s right. Crack is whack.
Stay away from the drugs you’re probably going to be fine. So we have nine tips that we
want to share with you. These are things that we do all
the time to stay safe here in Mexico. So tip number one driver only
during the day. We are very strict about this. We make sure
that if we’re going to be traveling by car that we only
drive during the day. We take buses at night
occasionally. But if we’re driving you don’t want to find
yourself driving along a highway somewhere only to be stopped by
some nefarious criminals. We’ve heard of this happening.
People get stopped on the highway sometimes
especially when they’re vulnerable. And when are you
most vulnerable? At night. On top of that I’d make sure
that you take a toll road whenever possible day or night.
That’s going to make sure that there’s some check points
in between the cities that you’re driving through
that kind of help make sure that there’s not anything fishy
going on. Usually with those checkpoints they can kind
of monitor what’s going on on the highway. The second tip we have for you
is to never put all your money in one spot and also never have
too much money on you. So all we do is that if we have
our things at the place we’re staying we leave some —
most of the money — we’ll leave it there. And we
only go out with just what we need for the day. If we’re going
out for lunch and then we know maybe we want to go to a museum
or something. We only have enough for each day with us. Number three try to blend in.
You don’t want to go to a place where the average income
is twenty thousand dollars a year and you come
in with an Apple Watch and your computer and all of these things
that most people in the area don’t have. You want to fit in
and be modest. If you’re standing out
and wearing really nice clothes and carrying and flashing nice
technology and cash on you it’s going to make you
more of a target. We like to visit less touristy
places and places like Colima where my mother in law lives
sometimes I’m one of the few gringos in the city and I stand
out. I notice that people are noticing me. I already stand out
just because I have light skin. I don’t need to draw extra
attention to myself and I’m not afraid in Colima. But
I would recommend in general if you’re visiting a place
especially a less touristy place to just do your best to blend
in. Tip number four is take only
authorize taxis. Nowadays there’s other services
like Uber or Chauffeur Pro or Lyft in some cities in Mexico.
But there are places where the only option you have
sometimes is to take a taxi. And what we do whenever we have
to take a taxi is that we buy a ticket at a kiosk or we look
for the sito de taxi which is the place where all the taxis
are gathered. They’re like waiting in and for
the next person to come. So when you buy a ticket or when
you take a taxi from the sitio you are making sure that these
taxi is not a pirata. That it has permits. That
it’s a legal taxi to be offering their services. So we
like to buy tickets for taxis because there’s usually set
prices for each destination. So it’s really helpful to be
able to confirm the price of your trip before you get in
the taxi. And remember in Mexico —
don’t usually tip taxi drivers. So if you want to know more
about tipping in Mexico check out our video about that.
Number five. If you can avoid it try not to go alone. And
if you do go alone try to only walk around places where
it’s well lit and there’s people around. This will help you stay
a little safer than if you’re alone and potentially more
of a target to somebody else who wants to come along and do
harm or rob you. Whatever the case may be.
In my case we used to live in Playa del Carmen for a while
and back then we didn’t have internet at our apartment.
So I’d often go to the cyber cafe to do some work. And I
would walk home often at night. And usually this wasn’t a
problem. But one night I was sexually assaulted by a
prostitute. No joke. It wasn’t anything violent and I
was able to walk away kind of laughing about the matter.
But yeah, a prostitute did grabbed me by the crotch trying
to convince me for their services and I walked home
pretty quick after that to see May. Feeling dirty and used.
And this may sound like if you’re a guy you could
be like great, yeah I want that to happen,
or I don’t know. But sometimes these sexual
workers are professional pickpocketers. So you do have to be careful. Oh yeah that happened your
friend Matt. Yeah. Yep, our frien — our friend Matt
the Expert Vagabond. He had his phone stolen from.
In Playa. In — in Playa del Carmen.
He was able to get it back though. He realized before the
phone was gone for good. Chased down the sex worker and
got his phone back. So stay vigilant and try not to
go alone. And the next tip number six we
have for you is to trust your instincts. Sometimes you feel
like a weird vibe or something is telling you that you
shouldn’t be in that place. Don’t even think about it. Just.
Grab your stuff; go somewhere else. We have been in situations
where we are taking pictures or we’re about to play the drone
and something tells us that we shouldn’t be doing that and we
don’t think about it twice. We pack our things; we go
somewhere else. Because we know that nobody’s
going to take better care of us than ourselves. So make sure you
trust your instinct. Right. There’s only really about
two times in Mexico where I felt uncomfortable. Not necessarily
unsafe, but uncomfortable. Angangueo, when we went to see the
butterflies. That felt a little sketchy. It felt like people
were watching us. And… And not because something bad
was going to happen but also the locals were telling us to be
careful. And that made us feel more…
On edge. Yeah they would look at the car
be like, “oh make sure you’re always watching your car because
things happen here.” We would be like “why?”
or things like that. So that made us feel a little
weird. Yeah. And nothing happened
but… OK, I’ve got one story I can
think of one time where I felt a little unsafe in Mexico.
And this lasted maybe two minutes. I was flying the drone
in, well, near Angangueo when we’re
going to see the monarch butterfly sanctuary, and we
were just coming back and I wanted to get a shot of
the landscape. And there was a bunch of woods and I was
flying the drone. It was up in the air and this guy comes out
with a machete out of the woods just out of nowhere. And he said
that he was drunk — or no — He looked —
yeah…. Yeah. He said he was hung over.
Yeah. And he needed money to cure his
hangover. I don’t know what you buy to cure a hangover.
Probably more alcohol. I don’t know. But he had a machete when he
asked me. And so in that moment I didn’t like I had a choice
to give them the money he so I just… “Yeah yeah.
Here’s… you want 10 pesos is 20.”
So, that was the only time I was a little on edge about my safety
in Mexico. But nothing happened. Number 7: Use your Spanish.
Let it be known that you understand what people
are saying around you. This makes you less vulnerable
for pretty obvious reasons. If you let people know
that you understand them then they’re going to be more
cautious about trying to plot against you for any reason.
This can be really helpful in situations where maybe no one
wants to take advantage of you aggressively but maybe
financially and you can let it be known that hey this isn’t
your first time in Mexico. Maybe it is. But if you speak
Spanish you can reason with people and let them know
that you understand them. You’re there for, you know,
well-intentioned reasons. You’re not there to harm anyone
or rip anybody off, and that you want to, you know,
make friends and be on good terms with people. People will
respect you more just because you’ve taken the time to
speak their native tongue. That being said, what are some
useful phrases if you’re in a tough situation or you need
to explain something to somebody or there’s some sort of
emergency. Well one of them could be
“alguien llame a la policía.” Again, alguien llame a la
polcía. And that means someone please
call the cops. Another phrase that you could
use is — or this is just a word — “ayuda.” That means help.
Ayuda. Something else. Maybe you need a doctor.
So, “Necesito un doctor.” What else is there anybody you
can think of? No traigo dinero. I think
that comes in handy a lot because there’s a lot of people
asking for money in certain areas of of Mexico, and just
simply saying that kind of disarms them a little bit
from thinking that you’re carrying a load of money. Yeah, so that is again “no
traigo dinero,” or “no traigo nada,” which can
also be understood as “I have nothing.”. It’s not worth it.
Don’t bother robbing me. I don’t…. I have nothing. No tengo nada. Is there any other. Oh there’s plenty of others,
but you know, stay tuned to the channel and will help you
out with that. Tip number 8 is have an
emergency contact. If you can make sure someone knows every
step of your travels so a family member or a friend should have
a list of the places you’re going to be visiting. Or also
you could have someone track your location while you’re
traveling in the country. This may sound like it’s too
much, but you have to do everything to stay safe. Yeah, especially if you’re
in an unfamiliar area just send your location…. If you’re traveling by yourself
too. Yeah. It’s so easy these days
to just share your location with a friend or family member.
That way you kind of have that extra level of security
knowing that somebody else knows exactly where you are.
And number 9: make copies of all of your important documents.
I think it’s important to have a copy of your passport,
your credit card numbers, your license,
and backup phone numbers. Emergency contact phone numbers.
In fact some of them you should have memorized,
but in case you don’t, at least have a backup
somewhere. Either a digital copy or even a physical copy and both
if you can. It’s better to travel with the copy easily
accessible and the original protected. But I also keep
a digital copy that no matter what happens, all of my stuff
could be stolen, and then I would be able to go
to a computer somewhere and access my encrypted
information and prove that I am who I say I am and that I have
a valid passport and all of these things. You also want
to make sure that you have your bank’s phone number in case
you get a credit card stolen you can call and cancel that.
And one bonus tip related to that — you can have a copy of
your wallet. Just have one wallet have all of your expired
credit cards. I call this my my dummy wallet. I don’t carry it
as much these days but there are certain places where we travel
to where I’ll have a dummy wallet. That way
if I were to get mugged for some reason you hand the dummy wallet
that maybe has five or ten dollars in cash in it and some
expired credit cards. Someone will look at that real
quick and say “Oh OK,” and you’ll have time to take
off. At least that’s that’s the hope right. You’ll be able
to get away fast enough before they realize that they didn’t
really get away with much at all. So you’re feeling nervous about
visiting Mexico because of all the bad things you have seen
or heard happening in the country just follow our
guidelines and also use common sense. Mexico is beautiful. It’s full
of nice people who want nothing more than to help
you and to make sure that you have a pleasant
experience visiting their country. Unfortunately just
like any other place in the world there are people
who do want to harm you or steal from you and you just have to be
vigilant. Now thank you guys were
watching. Don’t forget to like and subscribe for more travel
and Spanish tips. And remember El Camino es el
destino. The journey is the destination. So we’ll see you
soon. Goodbye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *