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Spring Break in Mexico? Know before you go

Friday - 3/4/2011, 2:02pm  ET

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Before you think about spending Spring Break in Mexico, there are some things to consider.

A U.S. State Department travel warning for Mexico that was issued late last year remains in effect. It urges travelers to avoid the northern border region and stay in well-known tourist areas.

It also suggests not traveling alone, leaving an itinerary with a friend, and not displaying large amounts of money, expensive-looking jewelry or other valuables.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is taking a stronger stand. "Underestimating the violence in Mexico would be a mistake for parents and students," DPS Director Steven McCraw says in a statement released March 1. "Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive," he says.

If you decide to travel to Mexico anyway, there are safer places to visit and things you should know.

"Try and stick to some of the areas where we haven't seen drug related violence such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta," says Adrienne Bard, a reporter for CBS News in Mexico City.

What about Cancun? "That is kind of the crown jewel for Mexico, and so they put a lot of effort into keeping it safe," Bard says.

As for Acapulco, Bard says some parts are better than others. "In general, the new section of Acapulco which is called Acapulco Diamante, that's closer to the airport, that area has been a lot safer than the traditional older area of Acapulco. The area on the coastal highway."

Bard says it's worth noting that Mexico's President Felipe Calderon just announced an all-out push to draw more tourists to Mexico. Plus, the government has stepped up protections for visitors to major tourist destinations. "It's not just lip service. They really do have more federal police patrolling, and army patrolling," Bard says.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)