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12 Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling to Cancun

Cancún, one of the most popular tourist spots in Mexico, is infamous the world over for the various problems that tourists face regarding their health and safety. Read through this Buzzle article for some practical tips for having a safe stay in the Mexican city.
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Do not enter Cancun's beaches unless you are a good swimmer
Quick Tip
While in Cancún, use only those ATMs which are situated inside banks or your hotel. One of the major risks in using those in stores, pharmacies, etc., is that you might fall prey to identity theft.
An out-and-out partying destination in the Mexican Caribbean, Cancún draws as many as four million tourists each year, most of them being from the United States. The city that competes with top-notch destinations, like Ibiza and Las Vegas, came into the limelight in the 1970s, when it attempted to replace Acapulco with a better looking, brand-new destination. Soon, Mexico started promoting the small fishing town of Cancún as a world-class resort, and today, it is one of Mexico's topmost tourist hotspots.

And why not? After all, Cancún is just perfect for those wishing to let their hair down and lose control of their senses. But while you decide to do that, let us inform you that this petite coastal city that seems to be always overflowing with tourists, may not be entirely safe for all people and at all times. So, it is always better to be cautious and careful, and use your wits from time to time, while you are there.

Staying Safe in Cancún

As popular as it is for its dramatic party scene and awe-inspiring beaches, Cancún is also infamous for its crime rate, and other health and safety-related dangers that may turn your dream holiday into a nightmare. There are certain points that you need to keep in mind while traveling to Cancún, in order to ensure a vacation that fulfills all your expectations. The following tips will help you stay safe while you make your way to one of Mexico's top tourist destinations.

❖ Before You Get There ...

Take the CDC Recommended Vaccinations.
No matter where you travel internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a certain set of vaccinations for each location, and Mexico is no exception. For details about the various vaccinations that you need to take before boarding your flight to Mexico, visit CDC's official website. Taking all these vaccination shots will ensure that you are immunized against certain diseases while in the country.

Be Up-to-date on All the Routine Vaccines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) requires that all international travelers should be up-to-date on all the routine vaccinations that include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and a yearly shot of influenza. Ensure that you take all these shots at least four to six weeks before the date of your journey.

Get a Travel Insurance.
Before you commence your journey, it is important to get an appropriate travel insurance that covers for all kinds of emergencies―health-related and others. This can save you from unexpected expenses in case of an accident, loss/theft of baggage, and so on.

Carry All Your Medicines.
It is important to carry all your medicines both routine and special medications, if any, while traveling to Cancún. Make sure that you pack an adequate stock of these. Moreover, remember to carry your doctor's prescription, preferably with generic names of all the medicines. This will help you get medication in Cancún if the need arises, as brand names generally differ.

❖ While You are There ...

Drink Only Packaged Water.
Cancún and its surrounding regions are infamous for their unreliable drinking water. Therefore, it is highly recommended to drink only bottled water that is available in most shops around the area. Look specifically for a resort/hotel that has a water purification system, in order to prevent a bout of illness. Moreover, if you intend to travel to some remote region around Cancún city, it is a good idea to stock up on bottles of packaged water to prevent hassles. Avoid drinking water from an unreliable source.

Cancún's Sun can be Ruthless.
The sun's ultraviolet rays tend to be really strong in Cancún, even when it is cloudy. These rays may give you a severe sunburn while you are outdoors. Therefore, it is advisable to carry a good sunscreen with you at all times. Moreover, it gets really hot in summer, so make sure that you keep yourself hydrated from time to time to avoid dehydration and heat stroke.

Beware of the Strong Ocean Currents.
Depending on the time of year, the ocean currents in Cancún can be really strong. So, first and foremost, if you are not a good swimmer, it is advisable not to enter the sea unguided. There are no lifeguards on duty in Cancún (and in Mexico), as the beaches here fall under the Federal Zone. Hence, if you are alone and not confident about your swimming skills, it is better to stick to your resort's pool for aquatic fun, and/or inquire at your hotel whether they provide a lifeguard or concierge at the beach.

The Weather Can be Unpredictable.
Cancún is one of those places where it is very difficult to predict the changes in weather. A hot and sunny day might suddenly become rainy and stormy in just a few minutes, and this sudden change might destroy all your plans. Be prepared for the worst possible scenario with respect to weather, and carry summer clothing as well as rainy gear; you might need both in a single day. Furthermore, be extra cautious while entering the sea whenever it is stormy and there is lightning in the sky.

Escape the Tourist Traps.
Cancún is notorious for several tourist traps that seem to exist right from the moment one lands in the city. It is essential that you spot them, and hence, be careful while dealing with strangers. One of the most common scams involves a tourist being approached by a very persuasive salesperson with an offer of a "free" tour to some place. Do not fall for such offers unless you are absolutely sure as most of them eventually turn out to be long presentations about condos and timeshares, with lots of discounts and free offers, most of which are often fake. Research well before making any such purchase, or completely avoid making one.

There are No Free Lunches in Cancún.
Everything in Cancún comes for a price; nothing is free. Therefore, while interacting with locals, it is essential that you read between the lines. The most tempting offers (that may also seem free on face value), may, in fact, burn a deep hole in your wallet, and before you realize what has happened, you might end up a lot lighter on your wallet. So, beware of a friendly stranger, randomly approaching you, and inviting you for a shot of tequila. You might end up footing the bill, and that too, for no reason.

Do Not Fall Prey to Petty Crimes.
Do not leave your baggage unattended, always keep your valuables safe, do not trust strangers, and as far as possible, avoid strolling/traveling alone at night. Moreover, especially if you are alone, opt for public transport rather than private, and pay in the local currency to avoid being overcharged.

Be Vigilant at Bars and Nightclubs.
Of late, several instances of rape have been reported from Cancún and its surrounding regions. Most incidents have occurred at night or early morning on deserted beaches, and quite shockingly, also in hotel rooms. Owing to this, the U.S. State Department has urged all visitors to remain extremely alert while visiting local bars and pubs, as these places can be unsafe for unsuspecting tourists. So, avoid going to such places, and opt to visit bars and pubs of repute.

Cancún is definitely not a destination for everyone; however, if you decide to get there, it can be an experience of a lifetime. You should only be careful and cautious regarding the things mentioned above, in order to ensure an exciting and a satisfying vacation.
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Published: March 4, 2014
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