Mexico1 Edited“Quick, which national capital has the higher murder rate: Mexico City or Washington, D.C.?” – Christine Delsol of the San Francisco Chronicle asked recently.  If you happen to base your answer on recent headlines and news coverage, you will probably say Mexico City.  When in fact, Mexico City’s drug-related-homicide rate per 100,000 population was 1/10 of Washington’s overall homicide rate in 2010.  It’s these kinds of statistics that continue to justify Mexico as a safe travel destination by and large, but are ignored by the mainstream media.

So when I mentioned to a family friend several months back that I would love to take my two very young children to Mexico for vacation soon, she all but said I was a terrible mother for even considering it.  This didn’t come as a shock though.  I’ve heard the bad press reports.  I knew the questions people would ask and the things they would say, “Aren’t you scared of the kidnappings?” or  “What about the violence and drug incidents?” or “Watch out and be careful!”  What is it exactly that I am suppose to be careful of?  The great weather?  The great food?  The affordability of a memorable family vacation?  I promise we won’t drink the water.

Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism announced in February, that 2011 was a record-breaking year in which the country saw 22.67 million international travelers, and that Mexico remains the most popular tourist destination for U.S. travelers.  Ever since the triple whammy of drug violence, the H1N1 flu scare, and a prolonged recession that curtailed travel in the countries that supplied the bulk of its tourism, Mexico has definitely been given a bad name.  However, by following some safe travel tips to Mexico from Traveling Mom’s very own Latina Traveling Mom, you can definitely enjoy a culture-enriched, eye-opening family vacation.

Here’s my thought on the whole thing … you probably wouldn’t pick a known gang area in L.A. as a place you’re going to spend your time.  The same logic should apply when visiting Mexico.  If you avoid the “scary parts of town,” the result can very well be a rewarding experience for the entire family.  The bottom line is this; Americans are NOT being targeted in the drug war.  Tourism is too big of a factor for the Mexico economy.  Does Mexico have some work to do in regards to the drug wars?  Definitely.  Should people pay close attention to the Official U.S. State Department Mexico Travel Warning?  Absolutely.  But if you notice on the warning map, Cancun and the Riviera Maya, and many more beach resort destinations are clearly labeled safe to travel.

I went to Cancun for my senior trip in 2000.  While that was a good 12 years ago, I honestly developed a true love for the destination.  Sure I managed to get my fair share of partying and clubbing in while down there.  But I also managed to take a couple days and soak in what a beautiful place it was/is.  It has so much to offer.  From rundown markets where you can pick up a $10.00 stunning silver bracelet that to this day, is still as silver as it was the day I bought it – to beautiful beaches and landscapes and colorful buildings that you thought was only portrayed in movies.  It’s rich in culture, and history, and custom.  The traditions and food isn’t something stereotyped.  It’s real.  It’s beautiful.  And it’s spectacular.

So when that family friend asked recently if I was still planning on taking my two still very young children to Mexico for a family vacation … I simply smiled and said to her, “that is a rhetorical question”.
   

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.
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Amanda is a freelance writer and blog owner of “The Procrastinating Mommy” – a PR friendly blog detailing her day-to-day struggles as she tries to maintain her sanity and sense of humor.  Follow her on Twitter for more tips and techniques on traveling with a toddler as well as her personal rants and raves: @Amanda_AKA_Mom