1. Pack light and cheap: Carrying a huge amount of luggage or costly items can cause multiple problems–it can be hard to keep track of multiple bags and might grab the wrong kind of attention, making you susceptible to theft. It’s best to leave valuable things, like nice cameras, jewelry, and watches at home instead of running the risk of losing them.
2. Plan ahead and let others know where you are going: Planning beforehand not only reduces anxiety but keeps you out of dangerous situations as well. My colleagues and I planned a weekend trip to Mexico City the week before, making sure we had reservations and an address for a hostel known to be safe. We mapped out the subway system, jotting down where to get on and off, and figured out what parts of the city were safest. If we needed a taxi, we would ask the front desk worker at the hostel to call a reputable taxi service for us to avoid hailing an unregistered, unmonitored cab. Never travel alone- even with groups, it is best to let others outside the group know your exact travel plans in case of an emergency.
3. Keep your personal belongings close: While out dancing in Mexico, one of my colleagues left her bag containing her wallet and cellphone on a chair at a local hub. When she returned just a few minutes later to get her things, the bag was gone. Always remember that no matter how safe a place seems, it is better to be cautious than to run the risk of losing your belongings. For girls, hip bags with thick straps that loop around the opposite shoulder are a great travel option, because it is hard for thieves to cut the straps or pull the bag off your body. Just remember to carry as little cash as possible and store valuables in different pockets within the bag. Money belts are also a great option, especially when you need to carry a passport or credit/debit cards.
4. Obtain a cell phone and reliable contact information: Telcel and Movistar stores can be found throughout Mexico. You can purchase a relatively cheap phone, a Sim card, and a plan that meets your needs. Calls within Mexico are cheap if you get the right plan! Once you have a phone, input contact information for your host family, friends, and colleagues. Make sure they have your number as well.
Best wishes and safe travels!