Border Patrol: Tips When Traveling to Mexico

AAA Travel’s six tips for a safe spring break

Phoenix, March 4, 2013. Mexico’s affordability and proximity have kept this country a spring break destination, although the country still comes with a State Department-issued travel warning. As a result, AAA is urging spring breakers to exercise caution if their plans this month include heading south of the border.

The State Department’s current warning comprises 20 states that include popular spring break spots such as: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) – a popular road trip for Arizonans.

“Unlike previous alerts, the current warning for Mexico now encompasses a handful of tourist destinations,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel for AAA Arizona. “As a full service travel agency, AAA knows that Mexico is a popular destination, which is why we’re urging Mexico-bound travelers to heed warnings – and no matter the destination – don’t leave smarts or safety behind.”

To ensure a safe and enjoyable spring break in Mexico, AAA provides the following six tips for travelers:

1.     Use recommended crossings. U.S citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should use the Lukeville, Ariz./Sonoyta, Son., border crossing. The State Department also encourages auto travelers to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.
2.     Carry a passport. Citizens are required to have a passport to gain re-entry into the United States. Travelers should carry extra copies of their passport and store them separately, as well as leave a copy of their passport and travel itinerary with a friend or family member at home.

3.     Travel smart. Stay with your party at all times. Don’t share your itinerary and do not travel with valuables and expensive jewelry. Travelers seeking a taxi should request that hotel or restaurant staff summon an authorized one, rather than hailing it themselves. Use a credit card instead of a debit card when possible.

4.     Know the laws and who to call if you need help. If you are arrested for any reason in Mexico, you may be jailed until you can prove your innocence. Always travel with a cell phone and check ahead to ensure you have coverage at your destination. Save important contact numbers and information such as hotel, credit card and insurance companies, and a number for the U.S. Consulate for reference in case of emergency.

5.     Be insured. U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico, which means American drivers can be arrested and jailed for failing to provide a Mexican auto insurance policy. Travelers should consider purchasing a short-term travel medical insurance policy or trip insurance to cover any emergencies. Travelers interested in purchasing Mexican auto insurance can be purchased at az.AAA.com/insurance.

6.     Use caution when renting recreational vehicles. Personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis, and ATVs are widely available for rent in Mexico. However, this equipment may be uninsured, underinsured or not covered by personal insurance. If you incur any damage while operating rental equipment, you could be arrested and detained until restitution is made. Make sure to read rental contracts carefully.

AAA Travel also recommends anyone traveling abroad sign up for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This program allows the agency to contact you in case of emergency. The agency has also created a page with information specifically for student travelers, which includes a list of emergency contact numbers for various countries abroad.

AAA is a full-service travel agency. For more information, go to aaa.com/travel.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.