STAYING SAFE IN CANCUN
With few exceptions Mexico is much like the rest of the world, and the formula is pretty simple. The bigger the city the greater the likelihood that crime is an issue. The numbers in these formulas get worse when you throw in cities that have drug trafficking problems or extreme poverty.
Mexico City is a good example of a city that has a crime problem. Although it is by no means rampant, there is a greater likelihood of being exposed to crime in Mexico City than in some of the more controlled tourist destinations such as Cancun or Los Cabos. The good news is that there are things you can do to make your trip to Mexico safe.
Seasoned travelers know that one of the most important things they can do to avoid being robbed is to leave their valuables stored in a safe place before leaving the hotel. Traveling out and about with all of your travel cash, credit cards and important documents on your person is usually not necessary, and a sure way to increase your risk of a bad day. Taking a small travel wallet containing just the items you need for that days is a much better idea.
Travelers who are aware of crime and want to avoid being a victim usually don't wear flashy clothing and jewelry. These can be considered displays of wealth...and an invitation to crime. Besides, who are you trying to impress? These folks don't even know you and will probably never see you again. Shag the Rolex, put on your best Tommy Bahama shirt and chill.
Women traveling in Mexico usually have a great time, but they have a greater concern when out on the town. Like traveling in any large town it's a good idea not to be out alone late at night, or to wander around dark or empty public areas or beaches. Most Mexicans have a great respect for women, but there can be bad apples in every bunch.
SAY NO TO DRUGS
Just like the United States, Mexico has laws regarding the possession and use of drugs. The only difference is that the repercussions of getting caught with drugs in Mexico can be much more serious than in the U.S.
Getting caught with just one joint in your possession while traveling in Mexico might lead the officials to believe that you have additional involvement in illegal drugs. And while they sort out the details you are stuck in a Mexican jail, which is very different from a U.S. jail. You're not watching Judge Judy re-runs in a Mexican jail.
Remember, under Mexican laws you are considered guilty until proven innocent. It's the same way in many other countries in the world. If you really have to get high while in Cancun your best bet is to sample the local cervesa or tequila. They are some of the best in the world! For more information visit the TEQUILA section of Cancun Expo!
NO GUNS OR AMMUNITION
Mexico is very serious about gun control and the rules are pretty simple... they aren't allowed. You are not even allowed to possess ammunition in Mexico. And if they find a bullet in your possession it gives them a legal reason to detain you.
If you bring a gun to Mexico and try to use the excuse that it was for your personal protection or for hunting it won't matter, you will not get a sympathetic ear. But it might buy you some time in a Mexican slammer. They've heard all of the excuses... well before you crossed the border.
Hunting is allowed in some locations in Mexico but special permits must be obtained and they need to be procured in advance of entering the country.
Well, there really isn't a problem with killer bees in Mexico, but I wanted to get your attention. There are, however, several different kinds of animals in Mexico that can put a dent your day. Again ...just a head's up.
If you are planning on spending any time in the ocean, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for Jellyfish and Stingrays. Both of these critters like warm ocean water, and the ocean water's in Mexico are warm all year long. But both Jellyfish and Stingrays seem to hang out at different places at different times of the year, so it's best to inquire about the current situation before you go in the water if you are concern. The good news? Sharks really aren't a problem in Cancun, and Jellyfish and Stingrays are rare.
Coral is another animal to avoid when you are in the ocean in Mexico. Because much of Mexico's water are in the tropics, coral is very common in Mexico. It may look like a collection of colorful rocks, but coral is actually a collection of live organisms and some of them can cause a significant and painful rashes when put in contact with the human skin. Look but don't touch is a good motto for coral. Most of the coral in the Cancun area is offshore, so don't worry in the beach areas.
Back on shore there are animals that are a bit dangerous, but you will probably not see them unless you head into Cancun's back country. Scorpions and snakes are not uncommon in many parts of inland Mexico, but there are things you can do to stay safe.
Scorpions can have a pretty mean bite, even the small ones, so it's best to keep your distance from them. They like to hang out in dark places and in areas of wood. So if you are in a part of the Yucatan Peninsula that is known to have scorpions it's a good idea to check your shoes before you put them on in the morning, be extra careful when collecting firewood, and closely examine your pillows, blankets or sleeping bag before getting tucked in for the night.
Snakes tend to enjoy the open spaces, and there are plenty of open spaces west of Cancun. They are often out and about during the day, but they don't really have a habit of hiding. So keep your eyes open when you go for a hike, and if you see or hear a rattling noise that sounds like it might be a snake, casually head in a different direction.
Driving in Cancun is a great way to add more depth to your visit. Following a few simple rules will go a long way towards keeping you safe.
Being properly insured is a good starting point when driving in Cancun. Mexico only recognized auto insurance that has been issued by a Mexican insurance company. And carrying liability insurance will keep you out of jail in case you are involved in an accident. Remember, in Mexico, as with many other countries, you are considered guilty until proven innocent. Liability insurance will shield you from the possibility of going to jail until the details of the accident get sorted out.
Although drinking while driving is not as strongly enforced in Mexico as it is in the U.S., that does not make it a good idea. Drivers who drive intoxicated may find out the hard way how miserable the Mexican jails really are.
Many of the main roads in Mexico are used by the tourists and the local people...at the same time. That means the "Type A" guy from Los Angeles who just got into his rental car will be sharing the road with the Mexican farmer in his pick-up truck who is slowly making his trip into town to pick up his annual perscription of Viagra. Being aware of the different speeds that vehicles travel at in Mexico is very important.
Cattle are another issue when driving in Mexico. The main roads south of Cancun are usually free of aninals. Cows, donkeys, horses, goats and sheep all end up on the backroads sooner or later. Keeping an eye on the road well ahead of your current location will usually allow you to keep ol' Bessy's big brown eyes off of the hood of your rental car.
Driving at night? Take it slow. There can be lots of drama going on in and around the blacktop. Taking it slow helps you stay in control in the even that next surprise happens in front of your bumper.
In an effort to help the U.S. stem the flow of drugs from Central America and Mexico to the U.S., the Mexican government often sets up drug inspection "check points" on main roads, run by the Mexican Army. These checkpoints are not very common on the Yucatan Peninsula, but are possible. These young soldiers are only doing their job and the rarely take more than a few minutes of your time when inspecting your vehicle. Being friendly and fully cooperative goes a long way towards getting you back on the road as soon as possible. Yes, those big rifles they have strapped on thier sholders are real, and they probably have bullets in them.