Before I get into whether I thought Mexico is safe for travel right now, let me preface it with: obviously things are changing every day and your personal threshold for travel is going to be different from mine and the next person’s. You have to make the right decision for you and this was just my experience back in August.
Is Mexico Safe for Travel Right Now?
We left for Mexico on July 28 and were there for 2 weeks. During those two weeks, a lot happened. Delta was on the radar when we went, but it was more of a, “Should we be worried about this?” than an, “Oh, shit, this is a real issue.” The longer we were there, the more we heard about friends’ kids coming down with it and more breakthrough cases.
Everyone we traveled with was obviously vaccinated (choose your company wisely), and, since we were traveling with my husband’s family friends who live part-time in Mexico City, we had the inside scoop on vaccination there. We knew that rates were not great, but they were working to do mass vaccinations and many people had traveled elsewhere to get vaccinated.
The 4-1-1 on Masks and Precautions in Mexico
We quickly noticed, however, that despite the lower vaccination rates in Mexico, they were taking the pandemic extremely seriously. Everyone was masked, all the time. Yes, there was indoor dining available, but, unless you were eating or drinking, you were masked. Every restaurant and store had temperature checks and hand sanitizer at the door. Is some of that performative? Sure. But it does indicate a seriousness that people believe this is real and don’t want to be affected — and that’s reassuring.
When I’m in DC, I don’t generally wear a mask outside unless I’m trying to keep the sun off my face or I’m cold, but, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so we all went with it and wore them outside even if walking alone. It’s the polite thing to do to go along with the social norms.
Entering and Leaving Mexico During the Pandemic
Coming into Mexico, you do have to fill out forms about possible exposure, information, etc., however there is no required negative test. If you want to return to the United States, you do have to present a negative test taken within 72 hours. Like most places right now, the country wants tourism, so they make it super easy. You can easily line up a test at your hotel, they come to you, and you get your results that day. Easy peasy.
The Question We Got Repeatedly: But, Is it Like…Safe?
I’m going to address this because I’ve been asked approximately 50 times. Yes, the State Department’s travel precautions indicate you may not want to travel to Mexico due to “crime and kidnapping.” But, we did travel there and I know so many others who have recently and over the past several years. We’ve had friends who’ve been there just since we’ve gotten back. Plus, I have a lot of family in Mexico and they live completely normal lives like we do here in the United States.
Yes, I exercised precaution while traveling in Mexico, but I would not say it was significantly more than I would traveling anywhere. Here’s the context: I live in a city that has a very high crime rate. I don’t generally walk alone after dark and I keep my head on a swivel (read: I would never wear both of my headphones while walking, whether during the day or at dusk). I also grew up in Richmond city when it had one of the highest crime rates in the U.S. All that is to say, I’m always exercising a decent amount of caution, whether I’m at home or in another country, and I didn’t feel more at risk in Mexico than anywhere else.
If you’re going to travel to Mexico, do the usual travel precautions and you should be fine. Don’t have your wallet or phone hanging out of your purse. Maybe leave your engagement ring at home (I only wear my gold wedding band while traveling). Keep your purse close to your body. If you have a bad feeling about something, leave.