Mexico Bound? Seven Key Tips to Keep in Mind

AAA Offers Advice for Spring Break Hotspot

Phoenix, Ariz., Mar. 12, 2012. While travel to Mexico has changed in recent years, its affordability and proximity have helped this destination maintain its reputation as a spring break hotspot. However, in light of the updated travel warning recently issued by the U.S. Department of State, AAA urges spring breakers to exercise caution if heading south of the border.

Though millions of Americans travel safely to Mexico each year, the Department of State recently updated its travel warning for the country. The revised warning comprises 19 states which include popular Spring Break spots such as: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point)–a popular drive destination for Arizonans. The alert, however, does not advise against non-essential travel to Rocky Point; rather, urges those visiting the area to exercise caution.

“Unlike previous alerts, the current travel warning for Mexico now encompasses a handful of tourist destinations, including Rocky Point,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel for AAA Arizona. “Mexico-bound travelers are urged to heed all warnings–and no matter the destination–don’t leave smarts or safety behind."

To ensure a safe and enjoyable Spring Break in Mexico, AAA urges travelers to:

  • Use recommended crossings. U.S citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, according to the Department of State. The department also encourages auto travelers to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.

  • Bring required identification. Citizens are required to have a valid passport book, or passport card to gain re-entry into the U.S. Travelers should carry extra copies of their passport and store these separately from the original. Travelers should leave a copy of their passport, and a copy of their travel itinerary, with a trusted friend or family member at home.

  • Travel smart. Stay with your party at all times. Avoid sharing your travel 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. For added protection, consider using a credit card in lieu of a debit card when possible.

  • 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. Travelers should always keep emergency contact information on-hand, such as the U.S. Consulate, embassy, police and fire. However, it is important to note that not every country uses “911” like the United States.

  • 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 unexpected emergencies. Travelers interested in purchasing any of these policies can do so at a AAA office or by visiting az.AAA.com/insurance.

  • Stay connected. Always travel with a cell phone and be sure to check with your provider to ensure you have coverage at your destination. Be sure to save pertinent contact numbers and information such as hotel, credit card and insurance companies, and U.S. Consulate for reference in case of emergency.

  • Use caution when renting recreational vehicles. 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 rented equipment, you could be arrested and detained until restitution is made. For this reason, read rental contracts carefully.

The Department of State also recommends anyone traveling abroad sign up for the 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. For more information regarding travel safety and required documents, visit state.gov/travel/ or cbp.gov.

The complete, updated Mexico travel alert can be found here.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to nearly 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on the streets and highways of the state as well as providing insurance, travel, and financial services to AAA members and motorists. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. In 2008, AAA was ranked the No. 1 “socially responsible” brand by Landor’s BrandAsset® Valuator.