Without a doubt the question I get asked most often when people find out I lead tours to Baja California is:
“But isn’t Mexico dangerous?” or “Mexico? Aren’t you scared something is going to happen.”
Fortunately, my short answer is always No. The vast majority of Baja California is just as safe as many of the other places people frequent on vacation. And it’s beautiful too! In fact, it’s raw natural wonder is the main reason I return time and time again. You mix that in with a fun loving and vibrant culture, the fact that it is so close you can drive there and an exchange rate that works in your favor and its a recipe that is tough to beat. Why spend all that time & money to fly to Europe when you can drive to Baja???
However, these questions are normal and certainly not without cause since our American media does a great job of scouring the globe for violent and alarming stories on just about everything with their “If it bleeds, it leads mentality.” So of course all we hear about Mexico are the headlines about drug violence and kidnappings. Why? Because “news” outlets are in the business of ratings and negative stories with shock value get ratings. The Good News Network provides an example saying that:
“In the 1990’s while homicide rates in the U.S. plummeted by 42 percent, television news coverage of murders surged more than 700 percent, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs.”
This kind of biased reporting certainly keeps people glued to the TV, but it doesn’t serve to keep us well informed, and certainly not in a balanced way. It does however make us fearful and fear is a powerful deterrent. (I could write a whole other article on how fear disables us and prevents us living and loving fully, but that’s for another time.)
I will share with you this from HowsafeisMexico.com:
“More than 150,000 Americans safely visit Mexico every day. And while the media sensationalizes stories of violence in Mexico, Mexico is safer than many major U.S. cities. Travelers feel relatively safe visiting popular U.S. cities like Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington D.C, or Atlanta. Visitors from around the world enjoy these vibrant cities in relative, reasonable safety. Yet each of these cities is statistically less safe than Mexico.”
So to balance out the reporting let me share with you some statistics about Travel and Tourism in Mexico from other sources…
- “Last year saw a total of 35 million visitors to Mexico, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year, bringing in $19.6 billion in revenue, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). That result brought Mexico close to world-ranked seventh place United Kingdom which had just 600,000 more visitors than Mexico in 2016.
- “The New York Times” named Mexico City as the number one place to go in 2016 and “Conde Nast Traveler” named San Miguel de Allende the fifth best city in the world.”
- “Most visitors to Mexico come from the US, followed by Canada, the UK, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Brasil, Germany and France. The number of visitors from the US increased by 12 percent last year over 2015, according to the UNWTO.”
As you can see there are always at least two sides to every story. Now there are some places to certainly approach with caution in Mexico (as with any country) but as a whole, Mexico and especially Baja California where I lead my private tours, is pretty safe. Not only is it safe, but because Baja California has not been developed to the extent our Pacific coast in the US has it still has so much untouched natural beauty. Those with open minds are constantly rewarded with incredible views and unforgettable experiences.
Better still, the people are friendly, helpful, fun loving and hard working. They are just like us, you know? Trying to make this crazy thing we call life work with the different cards we are dealt.
This is what US Department of State wrote in their 2017 travel warning.
“There is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.”
As mentioned above, the negative perception many Americans have is largely due to American media stories repeating only the most shocking stories which fosters a confirmation bias that is then is eventually reinforced by the few people who got themselves into bad situations (most likely ignoring a few warning signs or doing things they would never think of doing here at home.)
Unfortunately this leads many people to travel the world looking for “safe zones.” Flying half way across the world to stay in fancy name brand hotels, surrounded by like foreigners that essentially make them feel like they are still “safe.” You might as well stay at home and save the money. There is tourism, checking the tourist destinations off your list, and there is travelling. Travelling is about immersion, experiencing the real country and engaging with the everyday people that live there.
For me I find it invigorating to go somewhere where I don’t speak the language, where you can stay in local hostels or Airbnbs and get out and really soak in the location rather than just venture out on cautioned cookie cutter day trips before returning to the safety of your castle on the hill every night.
In my opinion, this quote sums up the take away for how you should perceive travelling in Mexico and anywhere really.
“Every city and country has places that are safe and dangerous. Mexico is no exception. The areas that are dangerous should be avoided. And those that are safe should be enjoyed and celebrated.”
I couldn’t agree more.
So now that you know the real story are you ready to experience the adventure of a lifetime, change your perspective and leave your comfort zone for good? If the answer is YES, Read more…