Solo Female Travel in Mexico — Is it Safe?

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Mexico? ABSOLUTELY.

Mexico gets a undeserved bad reputation for travel, particularly in the United States. Much of this is due to the cable news environment with its exaggerated narratives that Mexico is full of drug cartels and murderous immigrants.

This is not what Mexico is actually like. In fact, the real Mexico is so different that you’ll be stunned.

My name is Kate and I write about solo female travel for a living. And I’ve spent a lot of time traveling in Mexico. Even though I’ve been to 77 countries and all seven continents, there’s something about Mexico that pulls me back again and again. I literally got back from my last trip two weeks ago and I’m already trying to figure out when I can go back next!

Mexico is one of my favorite countries — both in general and for solo female travel.

Mexico is Great for Both New and Experienced Solo Female Travelers

If this is your first time traveling solo, Mexico is a great choice. Mexico has good travel infrastructure, excellent hotels at a variety of price points, and several well-worn tourist trails, especially in the Yucatán. The food is familiar and delicious. English is spoken in touristy areas, but even when it’s not, Spanish is an easy enough language to pick up on your own. And the people are kind and helpful.

My advice for first-time solo female travelers is to plan your itinerary carefully — especially transportation. Figure out where you’ll be staying ahead of time, plan your forms of transportation (whether you take buses, rent a car, book a shuttle transfer, or fly between destinations), and the tours and activities you’d like to do. And don’t skip on getting a SIM card (I get one from Telcel). It can help you with everything from GPS to translation.

I usually advise travelers to be flexible with their itineraries, but I think first-time solo female travelers benefit from having more structure.

If you’ve previously traveled solo, you’ll find Mexico to be an easy destination, especially if you speak some Spanish. But Mexico doesn’t have to be a lie-on-the-beach-and-don’t-leave-the-resort kind of destination. Whatever you’re into — cool cities, crazy scenery, diving or surfing or hiking — Mexico has everything in spades. See below for suggestions on where to go.

Is Mexico Safe?

As soon as you announce that you’re planning a trip to Mexico, one of your parents or relatives or coworkers will say, “Don’t go to Mexico — it’s not safe.” And that may give you pause, especially if the person is someone you love or respect. But you need to consider the source first.

Considering the source is one of my top travel safety tips for women, and this is especially true for women traveling to Mexico. Most people have an opinion about Mexico, and if they’re not experienced in traveling the country, it’s likely a bad opinion informed by cable news.

Every time someone gives you advice about traveling to a destination, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this person travel?
  • Does this person travel in my style of traveling (i.e. backpacking as opposed to resort travel)?
  • Has this person been to this destination?
  • Has this person been to this destination recently (in the past 3-5 years)?

If the questions to all four questions is yes, then you’ve likely got a reliable source and should listen to him or her. If not, you should find someone who knows better.

And I’m someone who knows better. I’ve been teaching women how to travel the world safely for nine years now, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico. I designed this guide to dispel myths and help women enjoy their trips to Mexico.

Here’s the most important part: CABLE NEWS DOES NOT GIVE YOU AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF WHAT IT’S LIKE TO TRAVEL IN MEXICO. Ever since 24-hour cable news debuted in the US, there has been a disproportional focus on horrors around the world, particularly in Mexico and the Middle East. And that goes triple for Fox News, a channel that frequently and blatantly lies to the public for the purpose of consolidating money and power, then avoids lawsuits because they’re branded as “entertainment,” not news.

Reporting exclusively on horrors outside the US borders and never showing any of the good stuff does not show you anything about what it’s like to travel in Mexico. The good stuff dominates — but it doesn’t make for compelling news.

But aren’t there drug cartels in Mexico?

Yes, but as long as you’re not going to Mexico for the purpose of trafficking drugs, you are not going to be involved in that. How often do you waltz into drug deals in your home country? How often do you accidentally end up in a meth lab? How often do you get in the way of drugs being transported? Most drug cartels operate in areas nowhere near where tourists go.

You’re not Walter White. They don’t care about you.

But aren’t there caravans of immigrants?

That’s not an issue for you and not a safety issue for anyone. The goal of migrants is to get to the United States safely. You likely won’t see any migrants if you stick to the tourist trail, and your chance of seeing a caravan is nearly zero. If you do, they won’t be interested in you.

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