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Travel Safety in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico Published in USA Today

By globalexcellenc8080, Mar 8 2018 06:44PM

Travel Safety in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Written by: Robin Thornley, Leaf Group

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 U.S. State Department's online Mexico travel page. As of January 2018, the U.S. Department of State has issued an alert advising travelers "exercise extreme caution" when visiting the country. Register details of you itinerary before leaving on your trip in case the U.S .government or family members need to contact you, or in case of an emergency.

Essential Paperwork

Check your medical insurance coverages before you leave or buy a short-term medical insurance policy for overseas 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 U.S. 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. There are no vaccinations required for U.S. travelers to Mexico, but check with a doctor about any specific concerns ahead of departure. 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.

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.

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.

The US state department has warned tourists to "completely avoid" five states in Mexico because of rampant crime levels and gang activity.

Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas have all been classified as a level-four risk, the highest in the scale. That puts them at the same levels as conflict-ridden countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

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