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How to Stay Safe in Mexico

Spring Break is right around the corner and for many of us collegiettes that means one thing: MEXICO! Whether it’s Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, or a Puerto Vallarta, it’s important to make safety one of your top priorities while in Mexico.

Any time someone visits a foreign country, it is always necessary to take proactive preventative measures to ensure a safe and fun vacation. Be sure to read these HCO tips before embarking on your Spring Break in Mexico!

Do your research. This is the simplest pre-departure step to ensure safety. You can even do this on the flight over the border (in a Wifi-equipped airplane). Google the city you’ll be staying in a read real traveler’s tips on things to keep in mind.

Learn key Spanish phrases. The only think scarier than a foreign country is a foreign language. I know it seems cheesy, but learning phrases such as “Can you speak English?” or “I need help,” can be a true lifesaver. Consider downloading a Spanish-English dictionary app to your phone in case the language barrier becomes a major problem.

Monitor your alcohol intake. Mexico is often a vacay-spot praised by under 21ers due to its lack of a monitored drinking age. Keep in mind, just because it’s legal to drink alcohol doesn’t mean you should. Mexican bars, particularly in tourist cities, frequently offer two drinks for the price of one or similar deals to increase their sales. Be sure to keep track of exactly how much you are consuming. Also, make sure to watch your drink like a hawk and keep it in your hand as often as possible to avoid it getting spiked.

Don’t drink the tap water (or the ice). Granted there are some cities in Mexico that offer perfectly safe drinking water, for the most part the country’s tap water is treated very differently than we’re used to in the states. UO collegiette, Sarah*, learned this the hard way after she developed a rare gum disease which caused her gums to recede resulting in a need for surgery. “I knew not to drink the water, but it didn’t occur to me not to eat the ice as well,” she explains, “it was insanely hot, so I was eating some ice cubes in my drink to cool off.” The tap water used to make the ice cubes mixed with the immunosuppressant Sarah was taking caused severe reaction in her gums. The safest way to consume water in Mexico is to buy it bottled.

Avoid any recreational drugs at all costs. Mexico has a popular drug culture and depending on where you spend your time, you may find yourself surrounded by it. However, much of the market, as in the US, is unregulated. This means any type of drug may be laced with something more serious or even fatal.

Use the buddy system like you’ve never used it before. Stick with your group and never wander off alone or with someone you’ve just met. Whether you came with your family or a group of friends, make sure you know each other’s locations at all times. It is also important to have a back-up contact system in place in case you’re unable to use your cell phones.

Be sure to have FUN! I am in no way trying to scare you collegiettes from having the greatest Spring Break. Mexico has so much to offer, from amazing nightlife to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. As long as you keep health and safety a priority, Spring Break will be the perfect end to winter team!

¡Buen viaje!

* Indicates name has been changed.

University of Oregon student taking everything as inspiration.
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