Sunday, January 16, 2011

How safe is Mexico for Women Travelers?

Women are seeking fun girlfriend getaways or inspiring solo travel more and more these days but our closest international destination is getting a bad rep for drug cartel wars and crime. Safety is a legitimate concern anywhere you go but this could be especially daunting if you are not familiar with the geography of the country.

Lucky for us, Mexico is still very much an open option for enjoying a blissful beach getaway with your best girl friend or a cultural culinary trip in a colonial gem of a town. There is so much diversity here and a memorable trip is just waiting to happen if only you know where to go.

Lets look at what the fuss is all about, where its happening and what this means to you as a traveler.

I'm sure you've heard the headlines this past year about Mexico being in the midst of a major drug war. Army soldiers patrol streets in border towns. Journalists have been murdered. Cartel members shoot at each other in the streets and supermarkets. People get kidnapped. It is certainly ugly in the border cities otherwise known as the frontera. But did you know most of Mexico is as safe as ever?

The travel warnings issued by our government are actually advising against visiting very specific places where drug cartels are waging their war. Unfortunately, after hearing "warning" and "Mexico," many Americans perceive the advisory for the country as a whole, which it definitely is not the case. The State Department listed several cities as not advisable to visit, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros. The worst of the bunch being Ciudad Juarez which is across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The news media have focused their news reports on the negative rather the reporting the reality. Mexico is still a very safe country, with the exception of Juarez and the other border towns. The rest of the country enjoys low crime rates in comparison to any large U.S. city.

So where should you go and how safe are these places? Below is a list I have compiled of fantastic destinations within Mexico, that you wont hear about in the news (they are too busy drumming in the bad news). 

Cancun is the most popular beach resort in Mexico by far and for good reason. Their beaches are stunning, the resorts amazing, the attractions are many and on safety scale....It is extremely safe. Exercising common sense is the most important thing here or any destination for that matter. For example, don't stray from the tourist areas, don't drink too much, avoid walking alone at night, only take public transportation or drive on the highways during daylight, don't deck yourself out in expensive jewelry. It just common sense ladies! 

When people think about the Yucatan region of Mexico, they usually think about the Mayan archeological site of Chichen Itza, but Merida is a beautiful colonial city that can serve as home base for exploring other Mayan ruins, cenotes, haciendas and cathedrals. It is an extremely charming city with well organized tours for its visitors. Beyond that, it is known as the safest and most peaceful in Mexico. Many American and Canadian expats have taken notice and are retiring here for this reason. 

San Miguel de Allende has been a popular destination for wealthy Americans for several decades now. This is a bohemian town in the mountains known for its slow paced life, cobbled stones streets, beautiful architecture and many art galleries. The nearby cities of Guanjuato, Queretaro and Zacatecas are other colonials town that are as safe as they are charming. 

Oaxaca has much to offer its visitors. It has a thriving art scene and boasts some of the best food in the country. There are the nearby ruins of Monte Alban and artisan towns like Teotitlan del valle, which are very beautiful and safe. Oaxaca also has amazing beaches and resort towns like Huatulco and Puerto Escondido. 

Think beautiful colonial city by the beach. This wonderful former fishing village on a hill side is now filled with swanky hotels, restaurants, art galleries and bars. Puerto Vallarta is safe but exercising common sense here is advised. Do stay in tourist areas and dont walk alone at night. 

The region is very safe, with good highways and bustling down towns. Many Americans visit here each year while others have even made it their home. Fancy resorts have sprawled through its stretch of beaches offering all inclusive vacations. There is also a popular artsy town called Todos Santos about 45 minutes away from the popular destination of Cabo San Lucas.

If you are considering a trip soon, the best thing to do is determine what kind of vacation you are seeking. Mexico is an expansive country with many regions and varied destinations to suit every interest. It is a matter of knowing a bit of geography and packing in a sense of adventure mixed in with some common sense. Buen Viaje!

Claudette Elizondo is founder of MexicaChica Getaways, a group travel company for women. Her company offers week long, luxury learning vacations focused on art, culinary and Spanish immersion trips. This American expat now enjoys life in Merida, Yucatan Mexico along with her husband Lars and her young children, Sophia and Paulo. Please visit to learn more. Article Source:

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