What you should know about the warnings not to travel to the Riviera Maya this Spring Break
March is here, which means many Americans are planning trips for spring break. Ahead of the busy travel season, the US State Department is warning against visiting certain vacation hotspots, particularly Mexico.
Last month, the State Department issued a Level 4 “do not travel” alert for many parts of Mexico. As of March 9, many of these warnings remain in place. These include the state of Guerrero on crime charges and five states on crime and kidnapping charges: Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas (where two Americans were killed earlier this month) and Zacatecas.
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The State Department is advising tourists to “reconsider travel,” a Level 3 warning, to seven other states: Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos and Sonora. If you’re traveling to popular tourist spots like Cancun or the Riviera Maya (listed by AAA as top travel destinations for 2023), the government is urging you to “exercise heightened caution.”
If you’re planning to travel to Mexico or anywhere else for spring break, it’s important to do your research, Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, tells Nexstar.
“The travel area must not be close to the area under consideration [level] three or four,” explains Twidale, pointing out that a travel agent can help you navigate your travel plans and know what you need to know. She also recommends signing up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows you to receive alerts from your nearest US embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. It also enables the embassy to contact you about an emergency in the country and to help friends and family reach you if needed.
For those who plan to travel primarily in Mexico, Twidale suggests staying at a resort, but even that comes with risks.
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“Nothing is going to guarantee your safety, but what we can say to people is when they go to a recreation area … don’t have a false sense of security,” she explains, making suggestions such as:
- When traveling with others, especially children, travel in groups of two or more
- Do not carry large amounts of cash with you
- Find a safer place to store items than under a towel
- Do not leave drinks unattended
- Keep copies of your passport, ID card, credit and debit cards, and other important documents at home
- Stay within the resort – if you don’t know the area, avoid walking around
- Do you have travel insurance in case of an emergency
- Make sure your insurance covers you and/or your children internationally
- Check if your phone plan covers international calls/SMS – if not, try WhatsApp
“There’s a lot in Mexico, it’s a very popular tourist destination,” she says. “People travel to Mexico and travel to Mexico safely. You have to know where you are going.”
Twidale emphasized planning ahead before travel and reading State Department advice online, noting that certain areas within a state or country might be more important than others. For example, while the state of Quintana Roo is under a Level 2 warning, tourist areas like Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya have no restrictions. However, the agency warns travelers to “exercise heightened situational awareness and stay in well-lit pedestrian and tourist areas after dark in downtown Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen.”
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Other countries with travel warnings are Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Venezuela, Ukraine and Russia. Those considering travel to countries across Europe, such as the UK and Sweden, are encouraged to exercise heightened caution over terrorism concerns.
Looking for a country with no travel advice? The State Department includes some European countries in its Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions advisories. These include the Czech Republic, Greece, Switzerland, Portugal and Iceland. Our neighbors to the north, Canada, are also subject to normal recommendation, as are Australia, Bermuda, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Fiji and New Zealand.