Solo travel in Mexico: I Learned to Trust

Huxley once said: to travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. My experience in Mexico totally proved this statement to be true.

I travel solo to retain parts of myself that has been long lost in my own culture, and trust is what I found after all those trips. Before I set out my two weeks solo trip to Mexico, all I had received was warning after warning – “Mexico is filled with drug trafficking and gangster attacking”. “I am not going to Mexico, that country is extremely dangerous”.

After receiving all these warnings, there are numerous times I second guessed myself before embarking upon my Mexico trip, wondering if I would be safe or if there would be any possibility of me being murdered or mugged on the street. The night before I went on my trip to Mexico I felt especially anxious, wondering why the hell I picked Mexico as my coming destination, and if I would return to Canada alive.

Surprisingly, after first two days spent in Tulum, my first destination in Mexico, my fears went away entirely. Receiving advise, take precautions, and being smart on the road is extremely crucial for every travelers, and it is common to put our safety into top priory. So we stay alert, and being extremely careful when approaching strangers, but paranoia can be exhausting and unnecessary. Mexico again, provides that people are there to help, instead of being harm.

Hitchhiking in Tulum

10 minutes after bus ride I showed up in the wrong bus stop and my hostel is two long blocks walk ahead. It was already the night time and I had to search the hostel, which is very difficult since the road ahead is pitch black and it cannot be seen even with my flash light. I encouraged myself keep walking but felt extremely uncomfortable to be in completely darkness.  So I popped my head in a red car that was pulled over on the sidewalk. There are two young men in the car. I confirmed the direction with them in my broken Spanish and was told that I need to walk another 15 minutes to reach my hostel. As I kept walking, that car approached, and both guys told me that they can offer me a ride to my hostel. One of them even let out his front seat to me. I nervously sat down and started to worry what I would possibly get myself into. Before I could relax and enjoy the ride, I was already at the front entrance of the hostel. The two young men I barely knew deposited me safely in front of my hostel and told me they will leave after I enter to make sure I will be safe.

Combat the ocean waves with a Mexican Family in Cancun

After exposing myself to the scorching sun at the beach in Cancun hotel zone for an hour the water is the only thing to help me shower off my feeling of burning heat. Staring at the ocean and I noticed that it is not easy to swim due to the strong waves. Clearly I felt burned and desperately need to jump into the water. So I did. After being swallowed several times by the waves, I approached the only group (a family of 5 members) swimming nearby for my own safety and ready to getting a suspicious look from them as I assume they must be wondering who am I and why approach them. To my surprise, I was welcomed to swim with them. We held each other’s hands, shouted out, jumped and laughed together as the waves come along. My fear of the ocean currents was dissipated and all I have remembered was the happy times with the wonderful family I met on the beautiful beach in Cancun. They embraced me, welcomed me with their smile, and offered me the tips on how to battle the waves.

Beach in the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, Mexico

Picture: Beach in Tulum, Mexico

Being treated as a family member in Mexico City

I ventured out to Mexico City and my B&B was 20 miles from the city center, meaning that I will spend the next two days alone in nowhere. Arriving in the B&B I contemplated how to kill my loneliness over the next two days. I purchased groceries from the supermarket and watched movies on the Netflix. However, by 9pm I was out of entertaining ideas and started getting bored. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed some drinks and ready to go to bed, even though I did not feel like sleeping. However, instead of killing the time, I was met with Sofia (the owner of the B&B) and her wonderful family. I was welcomed to their world, and being introduced to every family members and guests. They showed me their family pictures and shared their stories. They even invited me to join their party, made seafood pastries, went out for beef tacos, and made me promise that I could return.

Being looked out for in Teotihuacan

Two days after my stay at Sofia’s B&B I continued my solo adventure to Teotihuacan to visit the Pyramids of the Noon and Pyramids of the Sun. There are numerous commercial tours for Teotihuacan trips but for budget cut purpose, I determined to venture out to the pyramids by taking the local bus. It turns out that I was the only alien on that bus, and the only thing to do is to trust everyone. So I did. From the boy whom sat next to me purchased a bag of candy and shared it with me, to the family who I met in the bus station walked me to my hotel, hiked with me in the Pyramids of the Sun and lent me their blanket during the downpour, to the man whom I asked for direction offered me a tour at his home, to the police who offered me a ride to my hotel after the sundown. I stayed in Teotihuacan for only two days but I was unable to count how many people have helped me and how many times I was being helped.  There are too many.

As I female traveled alone in Mexico, a country that has been a hotbed of the news for violence and crime, I could not have felt more safe and protected.

Mahalo Mexico for being full of such generous and awesome people. Mahalo  for reminding me to trust the kindness in strangers and experience the beautiful world the firsthand. Mahalo for giving me a wonderful journey and a sense of community. I traveled alone in Mexico but I have never felt alone.

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Solo Travel in Mexico- I Learned to Trust

Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

21 thoughts on “Solo travel in Mexico: I Learned to Trust

  • September 21, 2016 at 10:42 am
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    I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico and, like you, have been worried about safety. So I’m really impressed you went there alone! I’m absolutely amazed those two young guys took you back to your accommodation. Would you go back there again on your own?

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    • September 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm
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      Hi Christina, Mexico is really a great country to visit and I wont hesitate to go back there alone again. I hope you will make it to Mexico someday. It is really a lot safer than the major cities in the USA.

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  • September 21, 2016 at 11:46 am
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    Traveling solo has its good sides and bad. But one thing it teaches you is the innate nature to trust your instinct. You have no one but yourself so you also have to be extra careful.

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    • September 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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      Instinct is really a weird and magical thing isn’t it? It is the one thing without any reason but make the most sense. Thanks for reading!

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  • September 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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    I’ve never explored Mexico as a solo traveler. However, I’ve been to 49 of the 50 United States as well as 40 countries. Much of my travel was solo and the only incident I ever had was in Cape Town. Otherwise, no places has ever been as bad as the media makes it out to be!

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    • September 21, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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      haha that is why I stopped watching the news. 49 out of the 50 US states? I wonder which state you have not been to yet.

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  • September 22, 2016 at 4:02 am
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    I’ve always been worried as well. I want to go to Mexico, I have friends there. And your experience really opened my eyes. I hope I get the same opportunity as you did 🙂

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    • September 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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      Thanks Bethanny. Glad my story is helpful to you. Having a friend takes you around is one of the best way to explore Mexico too.

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  • September 25, 2016 at 4:46 pm
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    There are so many misconceptions and myths floating around about countries. It is only when one gets there that one realizes that not everything is true. There are good and bad people everywhere. And the ordinary people are the same wherever you go.

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    • September 27, 2016 at 10:01 pm
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      Agreed 🙂

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  • September 25, 2016 at 11:20 pm
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    I’m a big fan of Mexico. I have been 6 times and never had any issues although I hear the same things all the time about drug trafficking and it not being safe.

    I will say I was a little sad to see you were watching Netflix and got bored. I would’ve been out exploring – after all, that is why we travel. Glad our trip was good!

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    • September 27, 2016 at 10:02 pm
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      It was kind of late and a bit cold outside. Glad you like Mexico too.

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    • September 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm
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      Thanks for the links. I read and commented on it as well.

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  • September 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm
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    I love Huxley, and his words are so true. I always questioned my decision to go to Mexico, don’t regret it. And I did it solo too, so your article is music to my ears.

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    • September 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm
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      Thank you! Mexico is really a beautiful country to visit and I am glad I met someone can relate to my experience 🙂

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  • January 3, 2017 at 8:44 pm
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    Thank you so much for this post, Julie! I’m about to relocate to Mexico and those same warnings are pretty much all I hear. I think this is the beauty of travelling – the necessity of showing vulnerability, the necessity to trust strangers in an environment we’re not familiar with. I believe it makes us better people. I struggle with that myself, I tend to get all paranoid, but so far all the risks I’ve taken were more than worth it.

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    • January 4, 2017 at 1:54 am
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      Thanks Marta! I hate that some people never been to Mexico and warn us not to travel there. It is in reality a safe country with diverse culture, great food and energetic and warm people, and I believe you will have a great time there.

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      • January 4, 2017 at 9:26 am
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        I know that people have good intentions and they genuinely worry, but excessive care can become a little annoying every now and then. Also, bad things can happen to you anywhere, but I believe that, paradoxically, they are less likely to happen when you travel – while in an unfamiliar environment, you’re by default more attentive and careful Bring it on, Mexico! 🙂

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        • January 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm
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          Bad things can even happen inside the house too! i agree that when we travel we stay in high alert and become very aware of our surroundings, so bad things are less likely to happen. Where are you going to relocate to Mexico?

          Reply

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