Infinity pool in Cancun

Current events can lead us into thinking that the world is not a safe place to travel, and whenever that happens, it makes me very sad.  For some time now, travel to Mexico has been on the wane.  For awhile it was fear of the swine flu, then fear of rampant drug activity, and now fear of the potential for violence.  If you think about all of that superficially, instead of burrowing a little deeper into the information, you may be tempted to stay home.  And that would be a big mistake.

Let’s look a little deeper into the issue of visiting Mexico:

There are problems EVERYWHERE in the world.  Of course you’re going to hear about crime in Mexico.  You’re also going to hear about it in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Washington DC – some of the most frequently visited cities in the United States – and chances are there’s crime in your very own city.  People still travel to these destinations.  Unfortunately, crime can occur anywhere, so rather than hole up and never leave your home, do a little research about the places that you are best avoiding and enjoy the rest of the country.

Mexico is a very big country.  While it’s tempting to lump problem areas all together, the reality is that although there have been some problems in Guadalajara (in the state of Jalisco), on the opposite side of that same state, Puerto Vallarta is popular, sunny, and safe.  There are warnings about visiting Acapulco, but Cancun – 900 miles away from Acapulco – would be just fine.  To give you a little additional perspective, 900 miles is just a little less than the distance between Seattle and Los Angeles.  Would you not visit Seattle because of a problem in LA?!

Bad stories travel faster than good ones.  It’s a sad truth, but one isolated situation can go viral, casting a pall over an entire tourism destination.  Visitors to a country look through a narrow lens when viewing the activities in a country, and that means it is not always an accurate reflection of what’s going on in a country.  I’m not suggesting that you ignore what you read.  I’m merely suggesting that you don’t accept everything as the truth without a little further investigation.

Things change.  Problems are real, but not a constant, so make sure you’re decisions are made with real-time information.  This map of Mexico trouble spots can help you learn about how many cities and areas are really very safe.  Check often.

Feel the personal connection.  I was traveling in Cancun during the swine flu hysteria, and had the chance to talk with some of the workers at the resort where I was staying.  They feared for their jobs, being able to feed their families, and all the associated problems that we all worry about.  Everyone I talked to was eager to get the word out about how they were just as concerned about the things that we were, and urged us to pass the word along that they cared about visitors having a good time in their country.  The same holds true today.

With Mexico visitor and occupancy numbers at very low levels, there are some great bargains on everything from flights to accommodations.  Use accurate information, and some common sense, and you can scoop up some great rates for a sunny holiday south of the border.

Photo credit:  personal collection of Mary Jo Manzanares