7 Safety tips for travling in Mexico

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PHOENIX -- Mexico has traditionally been a popular destination for spring breakers from Arizona. With a significant increase in drug-related crime, however, the U.S. State Department has issued travel warning for those heading south of the border.

While it's important to remember that a travel warning is not a restriction, it's just as important to pay attention and be safe. Warnings are issued for a reason.

"[C]rime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere," reads the warning issued on Feb. 8.

Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona offered some for those heading to Mexico for spring break or in the near future.

1. Use recommended crossings. Use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing (State Department) and limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.

2. 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.

3. Travel smart. Stay with your party at all times. Avoid sharing your travel itinerary and do not travel with valuables.

4. Know the laws and whom 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. They presume guilt. Travelers should always keep emergency contact information on-hand, including phone numbers for the U.S. Consulate, embassy, police and fire. Remember, 911 doesn't work in Mexico.

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.

6. Stay connected. Always travel with a cell phone and be sure to check with your provider to ensure you have coverage at your destination.

7. 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.