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How to Avoid Getting Sick in Mexico

Susan Laurent
Last Updated on
by Susan Laurent

Excited about your upcoming Mexican escapade but anxious about whether you might catch something there? No need to stress – you’ve come to the right place.

We are not doctors, but we are here to provide you with trustworthy advice from respectable sources.

Mexico is a treasure trove of experiences. Learning about effective precautions for common health issues while traveling will help you be all set for a sickness-free adventure!

So, let’s dive into the world of health in Mexico, explore common illnesses, and uncover the tried-and-true hacks travelers use to stay in their best shape south of the border.

Getting Sick on Vacation: What Do the Statistics Say?

Sick on Vacation

According to a Kelton Global survey, 45% of American tourists have required medical attention while on vacation. Common issues include colds/flu, stomach problems, injuries, allergies, and sunburn.

The Radical Storage survey shares that, with 43.2%, Mexico is the number one destination where people experience stomach problems. The United Kingdom takes the second spot, with 33.1%, and Canada the third, with 30.1%.

Forbes Advisor made a study on the top global tourist spots where travelers are most likely to get sick, and three Mexican destinations were among the top 10 places. Cabo San Lucas ranked fifth, with 63.8%, Tulum eighth, with 59.7%; and Cancun tenth, with 52.5%.

On the flip side, travelers aren’t too concerned about the chance of becoming ill in Mexico, as the country’s tourism industry appears to be expanding year after year. In 2022, Mexico welcomed more than 38 million tourists, and in 2021, the country received 31 million travelers — that’s more than a 20% increase. Impressive!

So, let’s see what can make tourists sick in this top-tier destination spot.

What Could Make You Sick in Mexico?

Vacation time, although meant for relaxation, can get really tiring.

Once we arrive at a destination, we often stay up late, drink more alcohol than water, spend excessive time in the sun, or consume more food than usual. These changes — especially not getting enough sleep or consuming alcohol — can weaken our immune systems and increase our chances of being sick.

Traveling between climatic regions can also throw off our bodies. This is because our immune system needs time to adjust to the new climate before it can fight off any germs that come our way, which means we may get sick during this period of readjustment.

Moreover, our stomachs aren’t used to the food and water in the location we’re visiting. Every bite and sip contains a variety of bacteria, some of which are beneficial and others which may be harmful. Consuming something that has more harmful than helpful bacteria can upset our stomachs and cause us to become ill.

In Mexico, some illnesses are spread by insect bites, particularly mosquitos — like Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. Their symptoms include feeling feverish, experiencing joint discomfort, or developing skin rashes.

Dangerous bacteria like E. coli, feces, and enterococci may be present in the beaches and ocean waters of Mexico. If these bacteria enter our bodies, they can cause anything from respiratory issues, ear infections, and muscle aches to bad stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Mexico boasts a landscape rich in high-altitude terrain, with one of its renowned gems being the capital city, Mexico City. For visitors used to lower-altitude destinations, journeying to these elevated areas might include headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. This is called altitude sickness and occurs when the body needs time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels found at higher elevations.

How long your body will need to fight off these travel-related illnesses depends on the sickness and how your body reacts to treatment. Some may feel sick for one or two days; others may need a week to recover. Everything also depends on how well you treat your body during the process.

Happy & Healthy: Tips on Staying Well on Your Mexican Getaway

Staying Well on Vacation

Vacations are undoubtedly a time to unwind, but only if we don’t put your health on hold. In fact, taking care of it is essential to enjoy every moment without the worry of unforeseen health problems — here’s how.

  1. Don’t drink tap waterthe tap water in Mexico is contaminated, so avoid drinking it, and make sure you don’t swallow some while you take a shower. Purchase a bottled water instead.
  2. Visit “Blue Flag” beaches — as they are certified for safety and cleanliness by the World Health Organization (WHO). Avoid Manzanillo, Hornos, and Suave beaches in Acapulco due to contamination.
  3. Don’t eat buffet cuisine — self-service or “buffet” food may not always be fresh. On the contrary, it may have been sitting there at room temperature for extended periods of time, so it carries a higher risk of contamination. Opt for freshly cooked meals prepared right before your eyes.
  4. Don’t eat raw food — this includes raw vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, seafood, and unpasteurized dairy products.
  5. Follow the bustling crowds — it’s difficult to avoid those appealing street food carts, and you also wouldn’t want to — they’re where authentic Mexican flavors shine! Choose the popular ones, though, because they will be continually preparing fresh meat, vegetables, and fillings.
  6. Prioritize hand hygiene — wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching public surfaces, going to the bathroom, and before eating. If you don’t have soap, a suitable alternative would be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  7. Stay cool, comfortable, and hydrated — drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent heat stroke or dehydration. Dress in light, breathable clothing and take rests in air-conditioned areas when exploring Mexico.
  8. Don’t drink too much alcohol — whenever you plan to do so, make sure you do it responsibly, and that includes eating something prior to drinking, not mixing different beverages, staying hydrated, and knowing your limits.
  9. Purchase a mosquito repellent — choose a repellent with a 20% picaridin potency. According to the New York Times, the top three options are Ranger Ready Picaridin, Cutter Backwoods, and Sawyer Products Permethrin.
  10. Take your supplements — before you go on vacation, consult with your doctor about what type of supplements would be the most beneficial to keep your health in top form. We recommend vitamin C (immune support), zinc (antioxidant), probiotics (gut health), electrolytes (hydration and mineral balance), melatonin (regulate your sleep patterns), and active charcoal (absorbs toxins).
  11. Eat at reputable restaurants — lucky us, we can easily hop online and learn about the restaurants we want to eat at. So, before picking a place to eat, take a quick peek at its rating and read what other people thought about it. We recommend searching for your restaurant on OpenTable, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Zomato.


Nobody wants to get sick on their long-awaited vacation to Mexico, but it does happen.

Most of the time, it’s only a temporary stomach problem. However, missing out on your dream vacation due to illness is a genuine bummer.

So, before we say goodbye, remember that you want to be cautious of your food choices, drink bottled water, avoid buffets, keep your hands clean, bring mosquito repellent, and check restaurant reviews.

Safeguarding your well-being is as important as the journey itself — so here’s to happy & healthy travels to Mexico!

About Susan Laurent
Susan Laurent
I'm passionate about world cultures, travel, and discovering amazing new places. I've spent years traveling the globe, very often alone, so I focus on providing important information about travel safety to travelers that I've gathered from first-hand experience.
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