Is Mexico Dangerous To Travel?

Mexico is an amazingly diverse country with many things to do, eat, and see. But it’s hard not to be inundated with endless stories from the media about gang activity, killings & kidnappings, and petty theft. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a bit nervous when coming to Mexico for the first time. But is Mexico as dangerous as the media portrays?

In short, YES, Mexico can be dangerous…but only if you don’t take the proper safety precautions and are looking for trouble.

The Good News: In large part, Mexico is extremely safe and friendly for tourism. In our 15 months of traveling in Mexico, we’ve never encountered danger or experienced theft.

However, traveling safely in Mexico does include several important caveats, which we will discuss here in this post.

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Are There Dangerous Areas in Mexico?

Mexico military personnel and vehicle

As much as we love Mexico and its people, the reality is that personal safety can also be a serious issue here.

In fact, according to statistics, several of the most dangerous cities in the world are in Mexico.

However, much of this crime is concentrated in border towns close to the USA and mainly involves ‘gang on gang’ crime. Tourists are largely left alone.

To combat crime, there is a strong military and police presence on the streets to keep the Mexican communities safe. It can be quite an overwhelming sight to see so many military vehicles and assault weapons!

But even with all these increased security measures, foreign travelers would be wise to take certain basic precautions.

  • Don’t drive or walk around at night
  • Avoid arguing or physical confrontations
  • Learn to leave an area if you don’t feel safe

However, most gang and cartel members have no interest in tourists. So, as long as you’re not looking for trouble and being respectful, you’ll be fine.

Any Issue With Thieves and Scammers in Mexico?

Petty theft will probably be the #1 issue tourists will encounter during their travels to Mexico.

But we want to emphasize that in our 15 months in Mexico, we’ve never been a victim of theft or scams. Our wallets, backpacks, and even our campervan have remained safe.

But again, common sense goes a long way to keeping your belongings safe in this country. Key pointers to remember are:

  • Keep your valuables out of sight from curious eyes.
  • Wallets and phones are always kept in the front pockets.
  • Don’t flash expensive camera equipment in busy, touristy places when they’re not in use. Keep them in your backpacks.

Have We Ever Been Ripped Off?

Yuko selecting vegetables in a local market in Mexico
Vegetable shopping at a market in Mexico

Have we been overcharged before? PROBABLY.

Blatantly ripped-off? NO.

This was one of our primary concerns before entering Mexico. How much will we overpay for the same products and services locals buy?

We can understand overpaying occasionally, but being price-gauged daily was a worry.

But looking back, we feel pretty foolish for thinking that! It turns out that most local businesses are surprisingly honest. We may have paid a few dollars more every once in a while, but more often than not, we’ve been charged fair prices for the vast majority of the goods and services.

Uber Works in Mexico!

We think taxis provide one of the most significant issues in this regard, and it’s easy to get a taxi that overcharges its rates to unsuspecting foreigners.

Luckily, Uber works great in many metropolitan cities in Mexico, and we take advantage of this service to zip around town at affordable rates.

Is There Police Corruption in Mexico?

Mexican police
Police in Mexico

Because we’ve driven in Mexico in our own campervan, technically speaking, we’re always getting pulled over by the police and military. But it’s simply for safety and drug checks. We’ve gotten used to them and their standard questions.

  • “Where are you going?”
  • “Where are you from?”
  • “What’s in your vehicle?”

Although police and government corruption does happen in Mexico, these instances are few and far between. Throughout our time, we have come across only two cases of attempted corruption.

Don’t Be Naive, Having Street Smarts Goes a Long Way in Mexico

Common sense goes a long way in life, and that is especially true in Mexico.

Reduce your chances of getting scammed or robbed by being careful with your money.

  • Ask clearly for the product’s price beforehand.
  • Keep your bags and wallet out of sight.
  • Don’t flash your expensive camera and electronic gear in local areas.
  • Be discreet with yourself and your things.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to say “no”. If you don’t want to buy something or you don’t want their service, just be polite and say “no.”

Don’t let anyone steer you in a direction you don’t want to go.

Just Be a Kind and Courteous Traveler!

Last but certainly not least, just be courteous and respectful when interacting with people around you.

Being relaxed, amicable, and smiling goes a long way when traveling in any country, especially in Mexico.

If you have tension, they’ll have tension.

If you bring trouble, they’ll bring it as well.

Being kind and respectful is the perfect recipe for a safe and enjoyable travel experience here in Mexico.

Mexico Is Safer Than You Think

The simple truth is that local Mexicans are some of the friendliest and most honest people we’ve met in our travels in Latin America.

Every day, we are greeted by strangers with “Buenos Dias” (Good Morning) and “Buenos Tardes” (Good Afternoon).

We’ve had wait staff at restaurants run after us on the streets to return belongings we’ve left behind at our table.

We’ve parked our camper van during the day and overnight on urban streets throughout Mexico without a single break-in.

To be sure, past experiences do not equal future expectations. But it’s important to mention that friendly, honest, and hard-working people exist all over Mexico!

Thousands of Current Travelers and Road-Trippers in Mexico

Camper vans parked along the beach in Baja Mexico
Camper vans and RVs parked on the beach in Baja California

It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were not the only foreign-plated vehicle in Mexico.

Far from it, thousands of tourists drive foreign camper vans and cars daily in Mexico—everything from small, beat-up sedans to flashy Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 motorhomes to the mega head-turning Unimog Campers.

And currently, as we sit in an RV campsite in southern Mexico, we are surrounded by six other campervans.

  • 2 USA motor homes
  • 2 European vans
  • 1 Argentinian van
  • 1 Chinese couple (with a USA-plated truck camper)
  • and us!

Our campsite currently has an assortment of international travelers.

And so here’s the reality:

Traveling, whether it be backpacking, vacationing, or even driving your own camper van, is flourishing in Mexico.

If you want to travel to Mexico, take it slowly. Visit our Baja California Travel Guide for some great ideas.

Foreigners Are Choosing To Retire in Mexico

Throughout Mexico are communities of foreigners who choose to retire and live there. Many are legal, permanent residents of Mexico and own property (and even businesses) here.

Several famous towns with large foreign communities are:

  • San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro State
  • San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas State
  • Mazatlan, Sinaloa State
  • Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca State

We’ve driven through multiple towns with large foreign enclaves, and if you love trendy cafes, craft beer breweries, organic farmer’s markets, and fine dining, then Mexico will suit you just fine!

Useful Resources

It’s always a good idea to stay on top of current events in Mexico to understand the current events going on here. These are the resources we use.


We hope you enjoyed reading about our opinions and experiences on safety while traveling in our camper van here in Mexico.

Is Mexico Dangerous? We don’t think so.

But we don’t want our readers to come away thinking that Mexico is 100% safe because it isn’t, and it would be incorrect to suggest that it is.

But by taking the above precautions, we feel reasonably confident that camper van and van life travelers will experience predominantly positive experiences in Mexico. There is so much that Mexico has to offer.

We encourage anyone planning a road trip through Mexico to start without hesitation and enjoy the journey! Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions.

Happy traveling!

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  1. One of you has a very good grasp of the English language (no grammatical errors that I could see). Seeing that one of you is Chinese and the other Japanese, where did you learn the language?

    1. Ha thanks! Eric is actually a USA citizen, although he grew up in Hong Kong. English is his first language!

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