Part 2: Traveling to and around Mexico
Famous for its immaculate beaches, archeological ruins and charming colonial cities, Mexico has everything from stunning natural landscapes to romantic architectural landmarks. A fascinating town and a rich culture add to the irresistible charms of this great nation. Many historic sites in Mexico are maintained with world-class standards, but enjoyed at a fraction of the cost of European or American attractions. Unfortunately, many Americans and Canadians fear for their safety while traveling to Mexico, which prevents them from experiencing this exciting country. This misplaced fear stems from the fact that Mexico is a developing country that is quite different from the United States. But different does not mean insecure.
Statistically speaking, Mexico is a very safe country for visitors. Most of the crime in Mexico is related to drugs and is concentrated in some areas near the border such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. Ninety-five percent of Mexico is as safe as ninety-five percent of the United States or Canada. Visitors to Mexico are not targeted by public violence. But as in other travel destinations, all visitors must be attentive to small crimes or property crimes. There are pickpockets in Mexico in the same way that there are pickpockets in Paris, the main travel destination in the world. As Edward Hasbrouck, author of "The Practical Nomad: How to Travel the World," says, the greatest danger to a law-abiding traveler in Mexico is probably the same danger in the United States: traffic accidents. Everything else it's insignificant in comparison. "
For a safe trip to Mexico, you should start by choosing a safe but exciting destination like the picturesque Mexican cities located in the heart of downtown. Unlike known beach destinations, these lesser known destinations offer you an authentic experience of the Mexican lifestyle. Best of all, these unusual attractions tend to be safer, cheaper and less crowded.
A good example of romantic "old Mexico" is the city of Guanajuato. Located in the rolling highlands of central Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage site has one of the best preserved colonial architectures in the country. Guanajuato was built on the enormous wealth derived from huge deposits of silver extracted within its area in the mid-16th century. The traces of their opulence are still visible today in the baroque buildings, the aristocratic estates, a magnificent basilica and churches, impressive squares and colorful houses perched on the slopes or along the cobbled streets. These colonial elements combine well with organic urban structures such as narrow corridors, underground tunnels, an opera house, museums, art galleries and coffee shops. With friendly and helpful residents, Guanajuato is a pleasant and safe city for visitors.
Visiting Guanajuato guarantees that it will be an unforgettable and enriching experience for you. To keep it safe during your trip, you must plan properly before leaving and observe the following safety precautions while traveling in and around Mexico:
- Travel during the day. As far as possible, schedule your departures and arrivals during the day. If you must travel at night, be sure to stay on the main roads and well-lit places.
- Stay tuned for your luggage and bags at all times. If you need help from the doormen, make sure they have credentials and IDs. If your luggage is registered or stored, remember to get the luggage receipt. Never accept packages from people you don't know.
- Use the official transport services. In major cities, use official taxis (Authorized Taxis) and avoid unauthorized taxis (pirates). There are official taxi counters at airports and bus stations. Within the city, refrain from marking taxis down the street. Ask your hotel or accommodation host to call a taxi by phone (radio taxis) for you and they can take note of the taxi license number and the name of the driver. Once inside the taxi, make sure the driver has his permission on display. For buses, they adhere to first-class lines, since they take the highways (quotas) that are faster and smoother. Second and third class buses run through free (free) highways that are slower, with more potholes and more exposed to misdemeanors.
- Drive safely. If you drive your car or rent a vehicle in Mexico, remember that most Mexican roads do not meet US standards regarding softness, hardness, width, curvature, slope or safety marks. The Mexican driving style can be more energetic, so be very careful and strictly observe the traffic laws. Do not drive at night if possible. You don't want to get lost in an unknown area at night.
- Stay in smaller inns, B & B and vacation rentals managed by the owner, as these establishments provide a more personalized service compared to the large hotel chains. In smaller establishments, hosts or owners will remember your name, your preferences, your schedules, etc. They will usually involve you in friendly conversations, and these are perfect opportunities for you to learn about the place you are visiting. Being local in the area, they can give you advice on places to avoid, the best possible routes, etc. They are the best updated source of advice in the area that guides cannot provide.
- Inform your hosts about your expected arrival times. In smaller inns, hotel staff and owners tend to control better when leaving the hotel and the expected time of arrival. They can easily sound an alert and notify the authorities if they do not return when expected.
Throughout your trip in Mexico, you will be mobile most of the time. Mobility can expose you to some risks unless security measures are taken. With a well thought out itinerary, good preparation, alertness, caution and prudence, you will arrive at your destination and return home safely.