Debunking the Myths (and Facts) of Safety in Mexico
As companies become more global, employees find themselves relocating more often for their careers. In particular, Latin America has seen an influx of relocating employees and business travelers. However, despite this recent trend, many visitors still have misnomers about the region and tend to feel uneasy when put on an international assignment in Latin America, particularly in Mexico.
With that in mind, we’re debunking some common myths (and confirming some facts) about visiting Mexico.
Myth #1: You will be mugged and have all your valuables stolen
Fact: Carrying an iPhone on the street isn’t going to differentiate you from most of the other people out and about. But while you’re likely safe with your smart phone, there’s still no need to flaunt your clunky DSLR camera or walk around looking unnecessarily flashy. Be smart about the valuables you take with you, but also know that you aren’t at an elevated risk of a mugging for having a touch-screen phone.
Myth #2: The streets are overrun with kidnapping, drugs, and gunfire
Fact: The media loves to capitalize on Mexico’s violent history, and it’s possible that popular television shows have crafted an image of what Mexico is like in your head, including drug cartels, gangs, and plenty of gunfire. We’re here to tell you: it’s not like that! You aren’t going to be on the set of a dramatic crime show; you’re just going to Mexico. Like any other country, Mexico does have its fair share of unstable areas, but that doesn’t mean traveling to Mexico is a death sentence, especially if Mexico City is your destination.
With that being said, there are some areas that should be avoided; the neighborhoods of Tepito, Doctores, and Cuidad Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City have a reputation for muggings and kidnappings. Border towns typically have the highest rate of drug-related activity but don’t play host to many visitors. Certain areas also require extra precautions taken at night, as criminal activity increases after dark. A general rule of thumb: when traveling to any unfamiliar place, doing a little research about the area can go a long way.
Myth #3: The taxis aren’t safe
Fact: Hailing a taxi in Mexico a decade ago could have put you at great risk, but that’s no longer the case. Authorized taxi drivers are required to display proper identification on their cab window, so make sure the ride you’ve hailed has this before getting in. For extra safety, you can find authorized taxi stands or booths in many tourist-heavy areas around the Mexico City where you can purchase a ticket and reserve a safe ride. Securing a ride through a mobile app, such as Uber, provides electronic tracking and are also a popular choice in larger cities.
Along with these tips, it’s important to be cautious and always trust your gut, but that’s just smart practice in any country or city.
Myth #4: You shouldn’t drink the tap water
Fact: Actually, this is one myth you should believe. Did you know there are different minerals, chemicals, and organisms that reside in Mexican tap water? If you’re an American, your digestive system isn’t used to these differences, and consequently, drinking tap water in Mexico can yield some undesirable results. It’s not that the water is contaminated or unsafe for all human consumption -- it’s just different than the water Americans are accustomed to.
Drinking bottled water is an easy way to avoid what the locals call ‘Montezuma’s Revenge.’
While it’s likely that you’ll face some initial culture shock when visiting or relocating to Mexico, it’s safe to assume that you won’t likely be in harm’s way during your stay. Be smart, be cautious, and you’ll be fine.
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