Maybe you want to experience a new country without the distraction of other people getting in the way of your travel desires. Maybe you want to “find yourself” like all the influencers you see on instagram. Maybe you just need some much-needed alone time. Whatever your reason, solo travel is, almost without exception, a deeply enriching experience for anyone looking to get to know the world outside of their hometown.
In a country like Mexico, however, where the headlines which make world news tend to veer towards the gruesome, most people will find themselves asking big questions they never thought of before. “Will I get mugged?” “What are my chances of doing this safely?” “Can I take this trip and make it back in one piece?”
Despite alarmist headlines igniting fear in would-be travelers, you might be surprised to learn that Mexico is a relatively safe Latin American country to which one can trek. Now, that isn’t to say that it is absolutely safe, as anyone who goes (regardless of gender, race, or class) could be subject to robbery, assault etc. The important thing is knowing the risks, understanding the threats, and making a plan for how you intend to factor these into your day-to-day movements to minimize your risk of harm as much as possible.
Mexico is a stunningly beautiful and vibrant country, and you would be remiss to allow news headlines to prevent you from venturing there to experience it for yourself, by yourself. Here are some tips to follow if you do intend to solo travel Mexico:
- Study your relevant home country’s travel advisory. Your embassy, consulate, or state department will have a page dedicated to all travel warnings which are relevant to your nationality, and understanding what they are watching for can do a lot to keep you safe. For example, here is the Mexico Travel Advisory for the US State Department.
- Make friends. Being isolated is the best way to find yourself a victim of a mugging, or worse. Luckily, it’s never easier to make new friends than when you’re flying solo, and chances are that the other travelers in your hostel are looking for new people as well.
- Not what you had in mind? Check out. Remember that your gut instinct is your best friend while traveling alone. Even if you’ve been planning to stay there, even if that hostel had great reviews – if you get in there and you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just leave. There are plenty of options, and your safety is not something you should be compromising.
- Don’t walk around alone at night. Male or female. Nothing more to say.
- Learn Spanish phrases and keep a phrasebook handy. Being alone means you really are on your own, and you may find yourself in a position where you really need the guidance of a local. However, if that local doesn’t speak your native tongue, you may find yourself in a tight spot. Knowing the key Spanish phrases you might need if you require assistance will get locals on your side and give you peace of mind.
- Get a money belt or pouch. If you’re going to be alone, do yourself a favor and invest in a good under-clothes money belt in which to stow your money and important documents. It will ensure that there’s no way for them to be pickpocketed away from you.
- Keep your valuables hidden. Taking out your iPhone on the street is equivalent to wearing a sign that says “rob me please.”
- Watch your drinks carefully. Drink-spiking is not unheard of, and you don’t want to be taken advantage of or assaulted when it can be avoided as easily as not taking your eyes off your beverage. And obviously, never accept a drink from a stranger.
- Keep a low profile. Standing out as a tourist with obvious tourism garb (shorts and sandals), loudly speaking English on the street, and waving around cash or valuables makes you visible to those looking for targets. Keep your head down while you’re moving around.
Is Mexico safe for solo female travelers?
You might be surprised to hear us say that with its well-established tourism industry and availability of accommodations and resources, Mexico is a pretty good option for women who decide to travel solo! Unfortunately, as with all other travel situations, women may want to abide by a different set of rules to keep them extra safe, and that’s why we’re here for you.
Even if you are traveling to Mexico City alone as a woman – a city which, more than any other in the country, tends to get recognized for violence, your level of safety is the same as anywhere else in the country as long as you do appropriate research and avoid hot spots of crime. (Quick tip for the city: ignore the cat callers. They’re not worth engaging and it could get you in trouble)
In addition to everything mentioned above, keep these guidelines in mind forsolo female travel in mexico:
- Plan your route meticulously. Knowing your itinerary and having a plan for how you intend to get to each destination (ideally with transportation either researched or booked ahead of time) will keep you from wandering aimlessly – and aimless wandering is the best way to attract the kind of attention you don’t want. Have your accommodations picked out in advance as well, and remember: check out if it’s not what you expected.
- Heavily research the neighborhoods of your destination city. It’s known to be chaotic and violent around the outskirts of the city? Great, don’t go there. Knowing where you should avoid going will be a valuable preventative measure in keeping you out of tight situations. Speaking of which-
- Get a SIM card. It will be incredibly useful for you to be able to use the internet freely while you move around. From having a map of the city (download an offline map just in case) and knowing your location, to calling emergency numbers if you need, and using taxi apps like Uber, you want to have the internet in your pocket.
- Know the emergency numbers. For North Americans, you’re lucky – the general emergency number in Mexico is also 911. However, it would be wise to have the number of your accommodation written down (as well as its address for taxi drivers) and maybe also the number of the local police station.
- Blend in with the fashion. Unfortunately, Mexico is not the care-free beach-wear-all-day destination which the resort towns would have you believe it is. As you go more central, the culture becomes more conservative, and you will want your style of dress to match this to avoid that unwanted attention. Smiling more than usual will also go a long way towards making you look like a local and appear confident enough to evade potential scammers and muggers.
- In general, stay on high alert. Keeping your head on a swivel will go farther towards keeping you safe than most travel tips out there. People who would take advantage of solo travelers and solo female travelers are counting on the moment when you’re distracted or disoriented. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Remember that you are in a really cool place. Many of these tips are relevant for any country you would travel to alone, not just Mexico. Mexico is more than the stories and alarming news headlines. It is a beautiful culture full of kind-hearted and loving people, and you should be able to enjoy it to its absolute fullest.
Even though solo travel can be daunting, it really does not have to be. With preparation and experience, taking the dive to travel by yourself will be one of the best experiences of your life. Staying safe just takes awareness and research – the rest is a breeze.