Travel Safety in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Last Updated: July 23, 2010 by
Categories: Playa del Carmen, Safety, Tips, Vacation

USA Today Travel Tips

by Robin Thornley, Demand Media

The goal of a beach vacation is to unwind, relax and recharge, but that does not mean abandoning common sense and throwing caution to the wind. There can be trouble even in paradise. Careful planning and preparation before heading to Playa del Carmen on the Rivera Maya can help avoid a vacation meltdown. Once there, following some simple guidelines can prevent a mishap that could sour a holiday in the sun.

Mexico Safety Briefing

The Riviera Maya has remained a relatively safe place to visit amid Mexico's war on its infamous drug cartels, but visitors should heed the detailed, up-to-the-minute safety advice and travel advisories offered on the US State Department's online Mexico travel page. The site also offers advice for college students visiting during spring break, plus a registration page where travelers can record the details of their itinerary in case the US government or family members need to contact them.

Essential Paperwork for Travel to Mexico

Check your medical insurance coverages before you leave or buy a short-term medical insurance policy for Mexico travel. Take medical profile information and insurance cards, but clean out your wallet and leave behind any credit cards and IDs you will not need. Email the numbers of the credit and debit cards you will use, with their accompanying overseas customer service numbers, to yourself and a trusted friend or family member, or make a paper list. Do the same after scanning or copying your passport, tickets and itinerary.

Medical Infrastructure

Playa del Carmen is well-served by several hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. The US Centers for Disease Control offers tips on assembling a traveler's first-aid kit, plus a medical checklist that includes recommended vaccines for visitors to Mexico. Drink bottled water and plenty of it to avoid dehydration. Hand sanitizer and small packets of tissues are handy, since some public bathrooms are lacking in amenities. Pack mosquito repellent and biodegradable sunscreen -- some dive spots and water parks require the latter.

Exercise Caution

Use only those ATM machines inside banks or stores where security personnel are present. Before departing, notify your bank and credit card company of your travels and set up account alerts to catch unusual activity. Leave expensive jewelry at home and carry only a small amount of cash for the day's activities, leaving the rest in a hotel safe with your travel documents.

Mexico Road Safety

Never drink and drive, or drive in rural areas at night. Lock car doors and do not leave valuables inside. Make sure you have a full tank of gas if heading out for a jungle trip or excursion. Leave word at your hotel about where you are heading and when you plan to return. One main road, Highway 307, serves the Rivera Maya south of Cancun, but some attractions lie off smaller roads in the jungle, so take a compass and a map. Take careful notice of the surrounding countryside for identifiable landmarks -- in rural areas, the locals sometimes mark bus stops with a homemade flag.

Mexico Beach Safety

Always heed beach warning flags, which alert visitors to undertows and jellyfish problems. Research dive operations online before your trip and request references. Never walk on the beach alone at night and keep an eye on your cocktail in local nightclubs. Years ago, topless sunbathing was a crime in Mexico, but the law is not enforced these days in Playa; however, women should be aware that provocative clothes or nudity might invite unwanted attention in a country with a macho vibe.

For More information click here to go to the US Consulate: Yucatan Travel Safety page.