Hamilton, NJ - AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging spring break vacationers to heed the advice of a State Department Travel Warning for Mexico while remembering basic safe travel practices, regardless of their destination. “Spring Break is a great time to emerge from the winter months with a carefree attitude and enjoy the warmth of a tropical destination; however, travelers are reminded to always adhere to common sense guidelines to ensure their safety. Those headed to Mexico need to pay special attention to safety warnings,” noted Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The State Department Alert for Mexico, which was updated on February 8, 2012 states, “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.”
AAA notes that Mexico remains a great tropical destination with lots of fabulous and luxurious resorts, as long as travelers take the advice of experts. “Carefree vacation attitudes are great, but only after security concerns have been addressed,” Noble said. “Tourists should stay on main roads during daylight hours, stay in well-known tourist areas, avoid traveling alone, and not to flaunt their wealth by flashing cash or wearing expensive jewelry.”
For the younger college age students, for whom spring break travel is extremely popular, AAA offers even firmer warnings. “Teenagers and young college-age students are generally inexperienced travelers, often naïve, and more likely to take risks, making them a vulnerable group, especially in unfamiliar surroundings,” Noble added.
AAA offers the following advice for those headed out for a Spring Break vacation:
- Visit www.travel.state.gov (State Department) and pull the Consular Information Sheet on your chosen destination. This sheet will provide invaluable information about a variety of topics including safety and security.
- Heed all travel warnings and advice.
- Don’t go anywhere alone, travel in numbers.
- Don’t let your guard down; always be aware of your surroundings.
- Keep your hotel rooms locked at all times and make sure you know who is at the door before opening it; don’t open the door if you are unsure.
- Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol or gather with those who do and never accept rides or drinks from strangers. While it is rare, young women can be drugged through a seemingly kind offer of a drink. In these rare cases, the women have been reportedly sexually assaulted.
- Only travel in clearly marked taxis or hotel shuttle busses.
- Don’t pack prescription medication, car keys, travel documents, passports, visas or critical items, or documents in checked luggage, and keep them in the safe in your hotel room upon arrival.
- Leave a copy of your passport, travel itinerary and any other important documents with a reliable person at home who can be contacted in the event that your documents are lost or stolen. In a separate bag, carry an extra copy with an extra set of passport photos.
- Fill out the emergency information page in your passport so that authorities are better able to help you in the event of an emergency.
- Don’t leave bags unattended at any time, even on the beach.
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry, and don’t carry excessive amounts of cash or credit cards.
- Participate in water sports from reputable vendors. Be sufficiently trained on the use of equipment and inquire about the operators who carry medical and liability insurance.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, serves nearly four million members in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and throughout Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and is on the Web at aaa.com/community.