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Back in the day, my family vacationed in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Acapulco, Chichen Itza, Mexico City (cough cough), Cancun, Cabo and more. The history was amazing, the prices cheap and the Mexican people completely accommodating. I’d love to go back, but I won’t. And for good reason.

May was the deadliest month in Mexico since 1997 with three people killed every hour, according to the Mexican government.

There were 2,186 homicides last month, according to figures from the Executive Secretary of the National System for Public Security which go back 20 years. In some states which were previously considered peaceful, like Baja California Sur and Nayarit, the rate doubled . . .

Hope and others attribute the uptick to a turf war between criminal groups, and the violent fragmentation within the Sinaloa Cartel headed by Joaquín Guzmán, known as “El Chapo.”

Kidnapping, extortion, and car-theft rates also increased in May compared to the previous month.

Drug thugs murdering drugs thugs, cops murdering drug thugs, drug thugs murdering cops, Mexican military murdering drug thugs, drug thugs murdering Mexican military. Civilians raped, extorted, kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

Would you vacation in Mexico? I mean, what are the odds of being attacked in a Mexican resort? Mexico resort shooting kills 5, including an American; Cancun gun attack kills four in heart of Mexico’s tourist region; At least five dead in shooting at BPM festival in Mexico

So, is Mexico a no-go? What about the U.K.? Europe? Israel? Thailand? Is anywhere outside the U.S. safe enough for your tourist dollars?

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  1. I hate traveling and I hate people so vacay for me is a chair on the deck or a boat in the lake paired with silence.

    • I like traveling, but I don’t like going where I’m not wanted.

      Most of Meh-he-co is a no-go for me…

    • Shire-Man, you’re entitled to your worldview, but I gotta ask — and I only ask this because it seems a good portion of TTAG comments reflect this — why do so many of us “hate people”? (And I know what you all mean — cynically misanthropic as opposed to genocidal.)

  2. IF i went away for vacations, which I don’t, the LAST place I would go is Mexico. Even the relatively peaceful and quiet Baja peninsula has had gang violence. Then again, I’d avoid most places in Central America except the coast along Belize, and pretty much all of south America except Chile. Too dangerous. Brazil and Venezuela are particularly dangerous.

    • I know folks in the SCUBA community, and Belize is a favorite, for central America. They pretty much prefer the Virgin Islands and a new favorite is the south Pacific, WW2 wreck diving like Truk…

      • Fiji has some of the best diving in the world but Fiji has some political problems.

        NZ is amazing if you don’t mind wearing 7mm.

        Some days I kinda wanna fall back on diving as a career and just light out for “the territories” for a decade.

    • I prefer to stay in the U.S. and my CCW is good in 40 states. Unfortunately VT, NH, and ME loose out because of being totally unsafe to go thru NY or NJ. I wonder if those states realize how much $ they loose because of their neighbor’s draconian polices?

  3. My sister and her dunce daughter went to the ruins at Chichen Itza about a year back.

    She went based on the fun our folks had there about 20 years back.

    They won’t let you climb on the ruins any more. She said she felt safe, however….

  4. I MIGHT visit Argentina or Ireland. But only with a couple of trusted friends goading me into going with them. I always thought those would be a beautiful countries to visit. But heck… there are numerous places in the U.S.A that I would love to see but never will unless their CC laws are at least as good as my home state. As it is though, my 4 weeks of vacay are already allotted for hunting trips in my home state or neighboring state!

    • Argentina is ok. BA is a large city with a European feel to it. Corruption is the order of the day. Everybody gets bribed and it’s seen as normal. Especially the customs warehouses.

      But the city has reasonable cost of living and the food is great and folks like to have a good time. Best to know a local.

  5. I maintain a strict policy against vacationing in the turd world. Geoffs advice about going somewhere you’re not wanted is unusually wise as well.

  6. Mexico no way. European countries, very doubtful. Many are infested with Hawaiian snack bar vendors and I think it’s a good idea to avoid those.
    I did go to Iceland in March and it’s a beautiful country filled with friendly people and it was most enjoyable. Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, a few remote Pacific islands are about the only places I would feel comfortable traveling right now. However there are still many places right here in the USA that beat any overseas destination in my book and seeing that all the places I want to travel to allow me to be armed that’s where I will be spending my time and money. Note that states who have no idea what the second amendment means are not in that list.

    • “I did go to Iceland in March and it’s a beautiful country filled with friendly people and it was most enjoyable.”

      I’d love to spend a month in Iceland. Mountain bike it, and dive the gap between the North American and Eurasian continental plates:

      That would be a rush, to reach out and touch both at the same time… 🙂

  7. My Dad and my Stepmother moved to a small Mexican town named Todo Santos, which is near Cabo in the late eighties. They had a very nice house built there for less than half what it would cost in the US. My Wife and I visited them several times, and it was the quietest, most layed back place you could imagine. My Dad passed away in ’03 and my Stepmom continued to live there for a couple of years, until things started to change. Gangs started coming into the area, Drug Cartels, people disappearing or found dead for no apparent reason. Long story short, she unloaded the house and moved back to the States. No way I would ever go back there after the things that she told me, and it’s only gotten worse since then.

  8. Peru is cool. South Africa is nice.

    Most of the places remaining on my “list” now require an AK and we all know what Ice Cube said about that.

  9. Scotland! Highlands are great as are the Hebrides and Western isles. Very rural areas with low crime and third world immigration and not of much interest to the terrorists that operate in London. Have also been to ROI recently and to NI as a kid in the late 90’s. Obviously at the time, we were very cautious about where we went and what we said in NI, but we didn’t have any trouble.

  10. Just talked to a friend who said he and his wife haven’t had a problem at a Cancun resort. Um, his wife and friends just got back from Costa Rica, where they had a wonderful time. A lot of people I know are going to Costa Rica.

  11. Of course I’d still go, even now. Odds are still quite good all over the world except perhaps for Syria, Af, Iraq and DPRK.

    Nobody lives forever so why live in fear during the short time you’re here? Sack up, drink some Pacificos, and relax. I’m more worried about the Federale shakedowns along the 1 than any violence.

  12. The Mexican peninsulas have a lower rate of violent crime than the US average and are safer than a vast majority of US cities. Cabo San Lucas has half the crime as San Diego, CA, per capita.

    • Umm… So you know they just found 14 bodies buried in a mass grave in Los Cabos? And in May, a firefight just north of Cabo San Lucas ended up with 8 dead. And in March, they found 6 bodies dumped between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Etc.

      Mexico has changed dramatically since I spent a couple years in the Yucatan. No bueno.

  13. I used to go to Mexico a lot, a couple decades ago, but no more. Actually headed to London soon. Kind of nervous about that, too, with the recent events. I love to travel and really absorb new cultures, but I’m beginning to think there is plenty to see here in the USA that will satisfy my vacation needs. And as others have mentioned, I can carry almost anyplace in the US. Almost. NJ & CA won’t be seeing any of my tourist $$ though…

  14. Much – perhaps most – of Mexico is too dangerous for most Americans to visit. Nevertheless, some of Mexico is safe enough. Can’t think of a safer place than Cozumel. The Cancun hotel zone is close. Puebla city is safe. In any such place you have to take care to confine your time out and about to daylight and early evening. And, use common sense – a LOT of it.

    • The diving in Cozumel is off the charts. So was the food.
      Little place on the beach called Lobster Cove. Half frozen key lime pie, fantastic! And the second best ribeye I’ve ever had. (Mine are better).

  15. I still spend a good amount of time in Mexico and the rest of Central America. I am careful and very well armed. For most tourists, I would highly recommend Costa Rica, especially Arenal and Monte Verde. For the beach and diving, Belize is amazing, and cheap. For actual pre-Columbian exploration, Belize can’t be beat. But if you are off the path and on your own, bring a local guide and be smart.

    • Well-armed in Mexico and Central America? Don’t they effectively forbid weapons? Or is it a judged by 12 than carried by 6 kind of thing…?

      • He might be still in .gov service. And if he isn’t. I can’t speak for Mexico but Argentina is easy to get a gun. Relatively cheaply and though you take a loss you can sell it back when your trip is done.

        Cost of doing business, so to speak.

  16. Care for some ZIKA with that beheading? I have spent many vacations in Mexico since to 1950’s and used to love Olde Mexico. But the fact is that the she used to be a cheap date but these days the cost is as much as everywhere else. Heck I can buy tequila cheaper in Costco that Mexico. I love the Mexican people, but the government is rife with criminals and the War On Drugs has destroyed the country.

  17. Most of the negative you read about the Philippines regards the southernmost part of the southernmost big island, Mindanao. That said, their central islands, called Visayas, are most welcoming, and quite inexpensive. For less than the price of flying to Hawaii, you’re in a place that has a peso-to-dollar rate akin to Mexico, with inexpensive lodging and food in abundance. (Note, you have get out of metro Manila for this to really apply). Nearly ALL speak English well enough to converse, though they may be shy about their lack of proficiency.

  18. I’m heading down in August. San Miguel de Allende to be specific. I’m planning on moving there in the next few years.

  19. Nah not Mexico. If I want to see Mexicans I cross the street to the Mexican market. I WISH we could afford this “vacation” you speak of…Chicago is a scant 10miles away and I’m not crazy about it either.

  20. I lived in Mx from 2009 to 2014. The government is very corrupt at every level I saw. In larger towns the nightclub start thumping at 11pm and make a racket until 4am. Almost a services there are slow and of piss poor quality. If you are the on only one at a Burger King there you are looking at least a 5 minute wait on anything – sometimes 10 minutes. The teachers are uneducated morons that usually inherited their job – I heard this from people with kids in school there, both Mexicans and gringos. Crime, about half of everyone I knew there had been robbed at least once in the previous 5 years. Mexico is one stinky pile of disfunction. Costa Rica as others here have indicated already is much better.

  21. Forty years ago, my retired father used to spend his winters in Mexico. A three-month tourist visa and living on the beach in his camper. He wandered all over the country without problems. The elderly were treated with respect. By the 1980s, he had switched to a mobile home on the Gulf coast of Florida.

    I made a few business trips into Mexico in the 1990s. I always insisted on a baby sitter (i.e. a local who spoke the language and knew the customs) to keep me out of trouble. When I retired, one of my contacts wanted to hire me as an independent contractor to continue the same sort of work. Given the way the country has turned, I’m glad I never took him up on it.

    The War on Drugs has ruined Mexico and Central America. The market is so large and the profits so high that the cartels are at least as powerful as the government. I am beginning to think the only practical solution is to repeal all laws that prohibit manufacture, sale, possession and consumption of drugs. Use the money previously spent on enforcement to fund treatment for those ready to get off drugs. Abandon the rest to their fate.

    • This. Well said. US drug laws directly sustain the illicit commerce in drugs. Availability of any illegal drug is now so comprehensive that anybody in the US can, after minimal effort, buy anything. So much for enforcement. Legalize drugs and the cartels fall apart.

      • The war on drugs is the single greatest clusterfuck the US .gov has ever been involved in. Viet Nam at least came to an end. And now my wife can do business in Viet nam. I wouldn’t let her go to Mexico on a dare.

  22. Mexico? It’s a big country, lots of places I’d never go, maybe a few I would consider, but it’s all about timing. I’ve been to Moscow, it was lovely, but I wouldn’t have gone in 1980, if you know what I mean.

    No-go? North Korea, pretty much any Arab territory other than Dubai, Venezuela, the Philippines, and, sad to say it, much of Europe right now. I mean — don’t be stupid, right? Stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things — let’s not do that. So in that vein, I’d also put most of Chicago, much of NY, Berkeley and SF and Oakland CA, Detroit, and a few other American hellholes on the no-go list. Why court trouble?

    On the other hand, I’d go to the Belize islands (not so much the mainland), or the Japan islands, or Hawaii, or New Zealand, in a heartbeat. They’re all utterly gorgeous, perfectly safe (even if disarmed), and magnificent. I’d also strongly consider Costa Rica or Panama as alternatives to Mexico.

  23. Use to go out of the country for vacation. Have gotten more careful as world has gotten more dangerous. Drug gangs and the Aloha Snackbar crowd have limited me to stateside destinations, but since most places I want to go recognize my carry license I am okay with that for now.

  24. Japan is neat. If you want to go to Europe there’s always Finland. Canada’s still nice if you just go for the beer and donuts and ignore the political BS.

  25. I was there approximately 20 years ago on a corporate junket. We were on a shuttle bus at night going back to the Acapulco Princess Hotel from a disco that hosted a private party for our very large group. Got stopped at a “military” check point. They wanted to board the bus and rob us but the bus driver would not let them. He had balls as he put the bus in gear and drove straight thru the check point with a dozen “soldiers” toting M16’s looking on. F#CK Mexico. I didnt want to go them and I would not go now.

  26. Jamaica is a nice alternative. Everybody is chill there. As long as you stay out of Kingston there isn’t much trouble to be had. Everybody I met there was polite and relaxed.

  27. My decision on where and when to travel isn’t based on my ability or inability to travel with a firearm – it’s more based on the strength of the dollar as measured by the Big Mac Index. While Mexico certainly gets its share of bad press for cartel murders, the murder rate in Tijuana and Chicago is very similar, yet no one is saying that you shouldn’t travel to Chicago. As a tourist, you’re far more likely to be involved in a vehicle accident than you are a fatal shooting. If you’re not traveling to partake in the drug trade, prostitution, or other vices then your chance of being a violent crime victim is really pretty low. Basic precautions will keep you safe, like not staggering around drunk, not going out of your way to pick fights with locals, avoiding places that are known (locally) for violent episodes and paying attention to your surroundings. You also want to do your best to blend in and not fly a tourist flag with what you’re wearing or what you’re carrying.

    So, Mexico is a still a go zone for me as is South Africa, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Honduras, Canada, and the U.K.

    • “You also want to do your best to blend in and not fly a tourist flag with what you’re wearing or what you’re carrying.”

      And for most people that’s impossible. Americans just don’t blend. How many Americans on vacation are going to wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt at the market? And in Mexico, a woman weaing shorts is assumed to be a prostitute.

      I agree – camouflage is the number one self defense mechanism available. I just don’t think the average tourist is capable. Especially Spring Breakers.

      • Last time I was at a resort in Cancun, on the day I checked out, I was wearing a guayabera and long pants. My hair was long, dark and slicked back. After a week in the Mayan Riviera, my skin was darker than Dos Equis amber lager. I stood there in the lobby for several minutes wondering why the clerk was ignoring me. Finally the chica looked at me, smiled and said hola. I told her I was checking out and she apologizedid for the delay saying she thought I was on the staff.

      • Dressing expensive and wearing anything with outward labels that are U,S. based (think sports teams) is a sure sign of someone who is fresh on the ground. I got gripped up by hotel security (in Mexico) who thought I was a beach vendor who wandered into the resort. In South Africa I have no problem blended because I’m wearing local rugby or soccer stuff. In the Bahamas it’s hard to blend if you’re getting off a private boat, but, you want to look like the crew and no the owner. If you look like you have something to take, someone will surely test that.

  28. I used to go to Mexico for vacations and business four to six times a year. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico City and my favorite, Cozumel. Man, did I love Cozumel. Great food, great booze, great people.

    I wouldn’t go back there now if I got an urgent booty call from Salma Hayek.

    Okay, that was a lie.

  29. I went twice last year and I’m planning to go again this year. We are generally dual sport motorcycling in rural areas. The scenery and people are incredible. Just like here, there are places you go and places you don’t go. If a local looks at you like you’re crazy for being there, take that as a hint. Usually that happens when there’s a turf fight going on. One place I won’t go now is Acapulco. that’s a shame because it used to be a very nice place to visit.

    There’s lots of places in the world I won’t go. Many if not most middle eastern countries, many African countries and certainly not N. Korea.

    • Can’t think of a good reason for me to visit anywhere between the Suez Canal and the Indus River that doesn’t involve either large cash payments or military conscription.

      • Funny you should say that. I’ve been to several places in that area because of military service. I didn’t loose a damn thing in any of them worth going back for.

  30. Grumpy’s first rule is never enter a police state and the second rule is anywhere we can’t carry legally is a police state. Grumpy’s third rule is never go anywhere you are not welcome.
    We live and travel full time in our motorhome, mostly in the states along the Rocky Mountains. There is more beauty and solitude here than one can imagine. And away from the cities it is safe and mostly inexpensive. When we get the timing right (most of the time) the temp is 70 to 80 highs and 40 to 50 lows and sunny. No humidity, few bugs and no crowds away from the cities and National Parks. And did I mention inexpensive.
    Why would we go anywhere else? Life is good, why ruin it by going to someplace we are not welcome (while carrying)?

    • Friend of mine has a rule: never visit a place where you would be afraid to do a night in the county jail (or equivalent). This has limited his travel, but he seems no worse the wear for it.

  31. Maybe Cabo. Doesn’t sound like there’s much going on there, cartel-wise. Otherwise no, not Mexico.

    Curaçao was nice. Banff, Alberta sounds cool. I’ve also wanted to visit Newfoundland and go back to Iceland.

    New Zealand sounds wonderful and they aren’t even assholes about guns, from what I’ve heard. Australia can suck it.

  32. Last year was Greece. Costa Rica the year before. Bahamas this fall.
    I’ve been to Aruba, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and Cancun. I must say, you can’t beat the service you get in Mexico. Those people work hard for the dinero. Costa Rica was second on service and the rest are not even close. Won’t do Jamaica. Gotta be the laziest people on the planet next to the French. Don’t know. Won’t do France either.
    Mexico has beautiful beaches, great service and the cheapest prices. Sucks about that crime rate. Definitely plays into my consideration of future trips. But $90 per day all inclusive in Playa del Carmen, a two hour flight away is hard to pass up.

  33. Israel is a wonderful place to visit. There is a lot of geographic diversity, many hot springs, and thousands of years of history to take in. Israel is also safer than you might think. When the kids in the IDF leave their bases, they take their rifles with them and carry them everywhere they go, even if dressed in shorts, or occasionally bikinis on the beach. This means there is little to no street crime. Israel even has a ski resort on Mt. Hermon, but the snow quality isn’t very good.

    But Israel fails the Big Mac index due to the high cost of living, which is why I will probably never move there even though I’m eligible for citizenship. And your chances of getting a carry permit if you are not on active duty are pretty much zero. Even folding knives that don’t lock are illegal to carry.

  34. I’d go to Nunavut for a Muskox hunt.
    Argentina for over the top dove shooting.
    Ireland or Scotland for water deer.
    Tanzania for a Thompson’s gazelle. But Tanzania has gotten really expensive of late.
    Still want to do a leopard hunt in Namibia.
    So many places, so little time.

  35. Why would you go any violence-ridden place where you would not be able to legally take a firearm for self-defense?
    I question your judgment.

    No state or country deserves my hard-earned money that does not respect my personal right to self-defense.

  36. I love Mexico – well, actually, I love Mexicans. Their country is shit, because Spain has always been shit. Look at any of Spain’s former colonies for proof. But I’ve been to Mexico a few times on missions, and would go back, but not with my wife and kids. I can accept danger for myself.

  37. It used to be that with a beat-up old car and speaking Spanish I felt safe anywhere in northern Mexico or Baja, but no longer; it isn’t just the tourists with obvious wealth who are getting hit.

    And once I intended to retire down there.


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