Friday, May 18, 2012

Travel Safety: Why Mexico Gets a Bad Rap

This article is being contributed by guest blogger Matt Smith.  Matt owns and operates Detour Travel and you can visit his blog by clicking on this link.

Many people hear that Detour's tour destinations include Mexico, and they seem surprised. They think the whole country must be like the ugly stories that make the news.

Meanwhile, I've never heard anyone say they wouldn't visit Philadelphia, New Orleans, or Washington, DC... even though they're all in the top ten "Most Murderous Cities" in the U.S.

I had this conversation with my grandfather. He was freaked out by the word Mexico. Once I explained that it's a great place, he still wanted me to cover Detour's website with assurances that you'll survive our trips in one piece.

This is the same guy who took my family on a trip to DC last year in honor of his 90th birthday. We went to museums and restaurants, rode the subway and walked the streets - without once fearing for our lives. Simply being within the city limits doesn't get you shot. There are other factors involved.

Mexico is similar. Setting foot in Mexico doesn't automatically put you in the middle of the drug wars. Our tours, to Guadalajara and a few nearby communities, stay far from the border areas and major drug corridors. We pay attention to the U.S. State Department's recommendations on what areas are safe, and we ask our friends in Guadalajara. (They all feel it's a safe place to be unless you're personally involved in the drug trade.)

We recommend the U.S. State Dept as a resource on travel safety no matter where you're going. They offer country-specific information as well as general tips on traveling safely.

Common sense disclaimer: Safe is a relative term. Nothing is certain. We could go to the safest place and still encounter random violence... just like we could bundle up, wash our hands, pop vitamin C pills, and still catch a cold.

What is your impression of traveling to Mexico?