Travel writers and bloggers write about the importance of responsible travel, and what travelers can do to be more responsible and ethical on the road, but we don’t always discuss the unwritten obligation of travel writers and bloggers to inspire their readers in a responsible manner. When travel enthusiasts and hardcore adventurers write of their experiences in war-zones or politically unstable countries, their story usually arrives with a disclaimer about the safety and security of the nation or region, and what travelers should beware of. If this is the standard, then why does Mexico seem to evade disclaimers and travel warnings? Why are travel writers being so irresponsible when it comes to Mexico?
Thousands of Canadians travel to Mexico every year, drawn to its gorgeous beaches, lavish resorts, hot sunshine, and relatively cheap prices. However, the political instability and high criminal activity is a cause for concern, and because Canadians form the largest group of travelers in Mexico, it’s often them that are, literally, in the line of fire. Of course, there are risks associated with traveling to any country, and there are certainly other popular countries that carry similar risks, but none of them rank as high as Mexico in terms of popularity, and they usually all are subject to warnings and disclaimers by travel writers.
Just yesterday a BC man was shot in the leg in Mazatlan, an innocent victim of a drug-related gang shooting. Today, the Metro published an article touting Mazatlan as Mexico’s ‘hidden gem’, the only disclaimer being that the local bull fights aren’t for the faint of heart. Huh? And the Transat Vacationer is currently flitting about Mexico, in the midst of the crazy. Why is it that travel journalists continue to praise Mexico? Are they simply ignorant? Do they just not care? The publication of this particular article seems insensitive, considering the timing. Also yesterday, we learned of allegations that Canadian tourists were robbed and gang raped by police in Playa del Carmen, while under video surveillance and being ignored by supervisors. At the end of last year, an explosion at a Mayan Riviera resort killed five Canadian vacationers, including a newly married man. Just before that, a Montreal business-man was found dead in his burned out rental car, believed to be at the hand of gangs.
Now, I’ve been to Mexico. Twice. Huatulco with the family when I was ten, and the Mayan Riviera with my friend and her family when I was seventeen. It was great. The weather was gorgeous, in Huatulco we had so much fun in the kids club (that was the defining factor of holiday success back then), and in the Mayan Riviera we partied like seventeen-year-olds do, visited an eco-water-park, and had some good food. I liked it. Would I go back? Ideally, no. I sincerely hope work never takes me there, but if I have to go, I’ll probably go.
As someone who knows a fair bit about travel, friends frequently ask for my advice and suggestions regarding destination selection. Right now I have a friend in search of a great one-week beach and sun spot for March, and she asked my opinion. The first thing I say in these situations is, “Don’t go to Mexico. It’s not worth it.”, because it’s not. I suggested she look at Turks and Caicos, St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao, the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and perhaps Costa Rica or Belize. Some of these places are a bit more expensive than Mexico, but hey, if that’s the price to pay for safety, so be it. I don’t want to go to a country and sit in the so-called safety of a resort for a week – I want to get out and explore the surrounding region, its people, and its culture, and there’s no way I’m encouraging anyone to do that in Mexico. Even the resorts there can be unsafe, so why would anyone think outside is safe too?
Granted, I have friends who have been to Mexico and had really lovely vacations. Lucky them. It’s not enough to get me to go back. Besides, it’s not my style. If I’m going to get into some trouble, I want it to be more exotic than bloody I-want-to-pretend-I’m-cultured-and-well-traveled-so-I’m-going-to-the-far-off-land of MEXICO. Ugh. So this is me, being a responsible travel writer. Don’t go to Mexico, friends. Just don’t. Be a little more adventurous and little more conscious of your travel safety. And travel writers – if you’re going to tell people to go to Mexico, at least tell them they might get shot, assaulted, robbed, raped, attacked, or murdered while there. It’s your responsibility.