On our decision to take the kids to Mexico

Poor Mexico. It’s been getting a lot of bad press lately, what with the escalating violence caused by its ongoing internal war on drugs. People have been killed in Acapulco (once a tourist Mecca), a Canadian woman was badly beaten in Mazatlan earlier this year and a freak explosion at a Cancun resort in 2010 killed five Canadians. Out of the above headlines, only the first is related to the country’s drug war problem. The latter two were bad timing and luck.

Still, the country’s violence has been enough for the Government of Canada to issue a warning about travel to Mexico, urging Canadians to exercise a “high degree of caution” when visiting Mexico, formerly known for its welcoming people, tasty food and deliciously dangerous margaritas. I mean, if you need an argument for visiting Mexico, the national cocktail is a really good reason.

Sip on a margarita and forget all about your -- and Mexico's -- problems.

So, keeping all this in mind, we decided that, for the average Canadian family visiting a safe tourist destination (Ixtapa) and mostly staying put at an all-inclusive resort, the risk of something happening to us while away seemed remote. (I think driving down Deerfoot Trail after a spring snow storm poses more danger.) And yet, you’d think we were taking the kids on holiday to Afghanistan for all the shock and awe surrounding this decision.

We were planning a spring break trip with some friends of ours and they let it be known that Mexico was off the table — they couldn’t believe we’d take our kids there. Even my mom, who joined us last year in Puerto Vallarta, said: “If you decide to go to Mexico, I don’t want to know.” Please don’t read this, Mom.

Here I am with Bennett at the beach in Puerto Vallarta last year, with nary a drug lord -- or souvenir salesperson -- in sight.

It’s a hot topic in the travel blogosphere, where writers are weighing in on whether taking the kids to Mexico is a good idea and offering tips if you decide to head south of the U.S. border. Namely:

  1. Lock up valuables and passports in your room safe, and only carry enough cash for the day’s excursion.
  2. Book excursions through the hotel.
  3. Don’t leave the compound at night.
  4. Beware buying an ugly gold embroidered Aztec-design rug from a beach vendor after drinking five margaritas.
  5. If you eat too many spicy street tacos, make sure there’s a bano nearby.
  6. Never, ever sit through the resort’s evening entertainment/song-and-dance routine or the bad performance will haunt you forever.

That about covers it. So, wish us a a safe trip down to Ixtapa. We’ll try and come back with a bottle of Casa Herradura tequila and only one gold Aztec rug.

Would you bring your kids to Mexico?

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