One of the requests I get most often from clients who are looking for a vacation is that they want to go somewhere that is safe. I completely get it. I don't want to intentionally put myself or my family in a dangerous environment either, however I have found that the subject of safety is completely in the eye of the beholder.
I always tell my clients that they need to be aware of their surroundings no matter where they travel - the Caribbean, Europe and even the United States. Unfortunately, there are unsavory characters all over the world. Travelers should always take precautions such as leaving expensive items such as jewelry and designer bags at home and staying in areas that are highly populated. If you feel that your safety concerns will ruin your vacation, you may not enjoy international travel. Consider destinations with lower crime rates such as Canada or the United Kingdom.
Don't be fooled, however, that the United States is any safer than the Caribbean. New Orleans (57.88), Detroit (48) and St. Louis (35) have higher murder rates per capita than Puerto Rico (20), St. Lucia (16) and the Bahamas (22.4). What many people don't consider when looking at statistics like these is that there are minor non-violent crimes taking place all of the time, but they take place in every small town in America as well.
Mexico has been hard hit by the media these days in regard to crime. This translates into clients who call and say, "anywhere but Mexico cause its not safe." I traveled to Cancun this summer for a familiarization tour sponsored by Palace Resorts. I never felt unsafe. I know that the Mexican cities of concern regarding crime such as Juarez, Acapulco, Torreon, Chihuahua and Durango are all over a day's drive from Cancun. Comparatively speaking, it would be like avoiding Salt Lake City because of the high crime rate in New Orleans. New York City and Miami are closer than the Riviera Maya to the high crime areas. Mexico has so much to offer its visitors that I truly believe American tourists are the ones missing out on a jewel. The people are truly warm and welcoming, and the resorts have everything that you could possibly want while on vacation.
Here's just a few quick things to remember to lessen the possibilities of something happening to you:
Stay where the people are - Travel in numbers or only in areas with high volumes of traffic. Tourists who get too adventurous become prime targets to individuals with bad intentions.
Don't dress the part - Tourists who wear loud or obvious clothing draw attention to the fact that they are not from the area. By the same token, leave your designer purses and shoes stateside. Even if you only have one expensive accessory, it can put a target on your back that you have money or valuables that someone else may want.
Hide your total vacation net worth - Divide your cash into stacks so that you can pull a smaller amount out when paying vendors or drivers. Don't carry more than one credit card. Keep copies of your identification in your wallet rather than the actual documents.
Drink responsibly - If you choose to imbibe on vacation, drink moderately and always in good company. Never drink alone. Take turns being the designated navigator in your travel party. Don't ever leave someone drinking alone in a foreign place - no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise.
Map out your plan - Try to get a good idea of where you are going before leaving your hotel or cruise ship. Refrain from pulling out the wall-size map in the middle of a vacant alley. If you must use a map, get a small, hand-size map or a phone app so that you are not so obvious.