US issues Mexico 'increased caution' warning for spring break travelers

CANCUN, MEXICO - DECEMBER 4, 2023: General view of beaches along Cancun hotel zone, on December 4, 2023, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico has issued a spring break travel warning for Americans planning to visit the country. The message posted on Monday highlighted a range of potential safety threats in the popular destination like crime.

“U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution in the downtown areas of popular spring break locations including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, especially after dark,” the advisory said, though it noted that crime can occur anywhere in Mexico. The U.S. State Department's travel advisory for the country notes various warning levels for different states, ranging from Level 1 (“exercise normal precautions") through 4 (“do not travel”).

The message also warned of other potential hazards like unregulated alcohol and pharmaceuticals. “Unregulated alcohol may be contaminated, and U.S. citizens have reported losing consciousness or becoming injured after consuming alcohol that was possibly tainted,” the advisory said.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates noted that counterfeit medication is “common” and could be ineffective or an incorrect strength. Those products may also have dangerous ingredients. “Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments,” the message said.

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The advisory warned of drowning and high private hospital prices, as well, among other risks. The message urged travelers to take precautions like keeping an eye on their drinks; staying with a group of friends in bars and clubs, while walking in dark areas or in taxis at night; and letting family and friends know about their travel plans.

Despite the warning, however, it noted that “the vast majority” of U.S. citizens visiting Mexico at spring break each year do so safely.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US shares Mexico travel warning ahead of spring break