Media reports regarding grisly violence between warring factions of Mexico’s drug cartels, which have led to beheadings, kidnappings and torture, have dominated recent news headlines. Understandably, in their flair for overstatement and promotion of bad news, the press has scared many people away from a Mexican vacation. Indeed reading the press reports and screaming headlines, Mexico appears nothing more then a violence ridden war zone that rightfully should be avoided at all costs. But is this the truth? Upon deeper research, one finds that a SAFE and enjoyable Mexican vacation can in fact be had. In fact in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal Is It Safe To Go To Mexico Heide Bronke Fulton, a State Department spokeswoman, noted that despite the travel alert, “we are not advising people not to go to Mexico.” Indeed, the official State Department Alert itself reads that “The greatest increase in violence has occurred near the U.S. border.” That said, the traditional tourist areas, such as Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and so on are not impacted due to their distance away from these border areas. In fact, most of the tourist and resort areas are separated by hundreds of miles from the volatile battlegrounds of the drug war. Staying away from Puerto Vallarta because of what’s going on in Ciudad Juarez would be like not traveling to Nebraska because of something happening in New York City. The distances are that great. That said some resort areas have made news headlines as well. Cancun, as an example, is smack in the middle of a major drug route to the U.S. Drug cartels. As a result, the Mexican army has taken over most policing duties. Yet, as Cancun benefits from having an island like hotel zone with only two entry points, even this area is safe assuming common sense is practiced. Additionally, many resorts and destinations have stepped up security. For the first time, visitors to the Cancun area over spring break were met with more military checkpoints along the road from the airport to the resorts. New this year in the Los Cabos area are “tourist police,” who are dressed more casually than regular police officers and there to help visitors with directions or translations. They’re also accompanied by drug-sniffing dogs at certain times of day. As such, tourists have been unaffected by the gangland violence. Finally to address the news reports on kidnappings – These almost always target wealthy Mexicans, not Americans or other foreigners. Nevertheless, as with any destination, one should display standard common sense and not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Regarding demonstrations, these should be avoided if encountered. In fact, the Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. During demonstrations or law enforcement operations, tourists are advised to remain in their hotels, avoid large crowds, and avoid the downtown and surrounding areas which are hosting them. Demonstrations in the resort areas however are extremely rare and are unlikely to be encountered. In summary, travel to Mexico can be safe assuming the traveler takes the same common sense precautions that one should take anywhere in the world including here in the United States. These include: being aware of your surroundings at all times; stay in the well-known tourist areas of the cities; avoid traveling to Mexico by road; leave your itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with you; avoid traveling alone; check with your cellular provider prior to departure to confirm that your cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks – or rent a cell phone that is capable of roaming on these networks, and avoid areas along U.S. border areas. Those who take these common sense precautions and venture to Mexico’s resort areas, will not only find a memorable and safe vacation experience but they will also enjoy one of the worlds best vacation values with tremendous “bang for the buck!” Due to the world’s economic situation, the dollar now buys 15 pesos (up from 10 in 2008) and resorts are offering specials and promotions that may never be seen again. Indeed, by practicing standard common sense one can enjoy a fun, affordable and SAFE holiday South of our border! Vaya y disfrute de Mexico hoy!