A State Department Guide to Spring Break in Mexico

Don't bring a pocket knife, drink, or engage in "lewd" behavior.

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Cast away your textbook, students: spring break is almost here! The typically week-long break, relished as much by the college class as it is missed by the working one, will see thousands of American youngsters descend on such disparate places as the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico as well as their parents' couch, inevitably bound to wreak tequila-and-lime induced havoc wherever they end up.

The spring break of legend, however, takes place in Mexico, and it turns out the U.S. State Department has actually produced a guide for the roughly 100,000 students who will wind up in alcoholic stupors somewhere south of the border. It's not new, but, given the season, we figured it was time to peruse the document for helpful and amusing tidbits. See, in particular, the note about not drinking or engaging in lewd behavior--they're optimistic folks over at State.

What You Should Know:

  • Mexico Is Dangerous: "While the vast majority enjoys their vacation without incident," the State Department says, "several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives."
  • Your Passport Is Not a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card': "Mexican law can impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the United States, and U.S. citizenship in no way exempts one from full prosecution under the Mexican criminal justice system."
  • Your Youth Will Not Protect You: Sorry, kids: the State Department reports that "All individuals 16 years of age or older are tried as adults," at least in some cases. But then again, what are you doing in Cancun at 16?

What You Shouldn't Do:

  • Bring Weapons: "It is best not to carry even a pocketknife into Mexico," the State Department notes, "as this can result in a weapons charge if a knife is found on a traveler who is arrested for a separate offense." Firearms and ammunition are subject to "harsh penalties," for "as little as one bullet."
  • Drink Too Much: This sort of defeats the purpose of the entire trip, it would seem, but the State Department notes that alcohol is involved in the vast majority of incidents in Mexico, including, but not limited to, "disturbing the peace, lewd or indecent behavior, littering, driving under the influence, drinking on the street or on public transportation, using public transportation without payment, or making obscene or insulting remarks." The takeaway: in its guide for college students on spring break in Mexico, the State Department suggests readers not be college students on spring break in Mexico.

Location Specifics: Among other places, the guide warns would-be spring-breakers about:

  • Violence in Acapulco: "Drug-related violence has been increasing."
  • Prescription Drugs in Tijuana: "Under no other circumstances should an individual purchase prescription medicines."
  • Don't Get Political in Oaxaca: "The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation."

That all being said, hanging out on the beach isn't rocket science: "Using some common sense will help travelers avoid these unpleasant and dangerous situations," the State Department says. We at the Atlantic Wire would like to urge you to exercise caution in the presence of any digital recording device--the last thing the world needs is another one of those videos. And please call your mother.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.