So you want to travel to Mexico City — land of endless parks, galleries, historical sites, museums and cantinas? Yep, we totally understand the appeal. But did your friends and family respond with words of worry and concern when you told them about your travel plans? Unfortunately, the misnomer that Mexico City is a dangerous place to visit is a pretty prevalent sentiment among Americans. So, if you’re going into panic mode regarding your upcoming trip, we’re here to advise you on one simple thing: don’t!
We’ve put together a list of tips that will make your trip easier and safer. Read on to find out everything you need to know before you go, as an American traveling to Mexico City!
¡Vamanos! – Let’s go!
Safety & Travel Tips
Research your destination. If you’re concerned about the safety in a particular part of this city, or current events in the area, the U.S. State Department offers information about Mexico as well as up-to-date warnings and public announcements regarding safety issues for American travelers.
Look up which areas you may have to avoid. Mexico City is pretty low down on the Travel Advisory list, but like any major city, there are areas within it that are less safe than others, and which as a tourist, you should probably avoid. If you’re thinking about adventuring through the city, do your research and map out the areas you should be a bit wary of so you can plan your route around them on your trek!
Remember: Mexico City isn’t Cancun or Cabo! We know this one sounds obvious, but before you go rolling your eyes, check your suitcase to see how many sandals and shorts you’ve packed. Many travelers forget that distance is not the only thing that separates Mexico City from Mexico’s popular tropical destinations — there’s also weather patterns. Starting from June onwards, the weather in Mexico City gets rainy and the temperature drops significantly. Similarly, if the weather is warm, it’s important to keep in mind that this city isn’t a beach town — it’s a bustling metropolis. So, walking around in bikini tops and surf shorts may not be the outfit choice you want to go for.
Pre-book your accommodation and stay in touristy areas. For you adventure travelers looking for the authentic, we know this may be against your off-the-beaten-track ways, but hey, these areas are usually more populated and house more foreigners like you, so consider the tourist traps as a safety net in these high-risk areas.
Learn basic Spanish. Again, although a major city with a massive population, remember that Mexico City is neither Cancún nor Cabo, meaning the number of people who speak fluent English is likely to be lower here than in either of those places. Learning some basic phrases, like perdón, ¿hay una estación de tren por aquí? (Excuse me, is there a train station around here?) will help you navigate your way around.
Don’t drink the tap water. Unless you have something vehemently against it, drinking bottled water is an easy solution to this paltry inconvenience. Mexican tap water contains different chemicals, minerals and organisms that your American digestive system might not be suited for, so opting for filtered or bottled H2O is just a simple way to be extra careful. That’s not to say that the water here is necessarily contaminated or even unsafe for consumption; it’s just different than the water you may be accustomed to.
Avoid Raw, uncooked or undercooked meats and seafood. Similar to our note above, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises eating food that is cooked and served hot. That simply means to try and avoid any foods that could have been rinsed in contaminated water or prepared by someone who didn’t properly wash their hands, like salads and uncooked fish.
Pro-tip: For our extra-cautious travelers out there, consider carrying an antibiotic in case of a bacterial illness from the food or water.
Be respectful of the local culture. This one goes for any country in the world, but it goes without saying, that exercising extra caution and doing your best to blend in and keep a low-profile will add to your safety. It’s important to know the laws and customs of the area you’re in and know them well! Be careful and mindful of the people, religious beliefs and social norms of the setting you’re in.
Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!