Affordability and proximity have maintained the popularity of Rocky Point and other border cities as a spring break destination, although they still come with a State Department-issued travel warning, according to Michele Donati, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona.
As a result, Donati says spring-break vacationers should exercise caution if their plans include heading south of the border.
The State Department’s warning comprises 20 states that include popular spring break spots including Rocky Point, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.
“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, here are tips for travelers:
Use recommended crossings. U.S citizens visiting Rocky Point should use the Lukeville border crossing. The State Department also encourages auto travelers to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Donati also recommends anyone traveling abroad sign up for the Department of State’s STEP, or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
STEP 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.