Belize has quickly become a popular travel destination and an ideal vacation spot over the past several years. As an English speaking British colony; Belize offers an easy transition and a boatload of absolutely incredible experiences jam-packed into one tiny coastal country. Amidst the overwhelming reasons to visit, there is typically one point of hesitation as well… is Belize actually safe to travel too? And with the stories about Central America that tend to make the news headlines these days, it’s completely understandable.
Between being surrounded by the Northern Triangle of Central America (which has gained infamy for its high rates of violent crime) and consistently having one of the highest homicidal rates in the world; it`s only human to have some mixed feelings about hauling your family here for a fun-in-the-sun beach vacation. So if you`ve been looking into Belize are wondering if it might be the right choice for you or a family member, this post is for you!
I would like to start off by stating that it is utterly impossible to dub a city or a country “completely safe” or “completely unsafe”. This is especially true when relying solely on the experiences of other travelers. Two people visiting the same area could have completely different experiences depending on their background, their decisions, and their knowledge of the culture and language.
Think about it.. are there areas in your city or country that you would consider a “no go zone”? Probably. Does that make your whole country “unsafe”? I sure hope not.
It is entirely possible to end up in a bad situation no matter what country you travel to or even in your own neighborhood. And while I am not naive to the fact that some countries have more of these “no go zones” than others; it’s important to keep it in perspective. In my opinion, traveling “safe” is more about a persons experience and decisions and less about the actual destination.
So in response to your question “Is Belize safe to travel to?” I`ll offer this insight: I believe it is very possible to travel through Belize in a safe way. I never once felt threatened or uneasy at any point during our 10 day road trip.
Does that mean that you or someone you know will have the exact same experience? Maybe not. But I do believe that you can maximize your safety by taking a few precautionary steps and by traveling smart. Here is a list of my top travel tips for staying safe in Belize.
Learn The History
Belize is the only part of Central America that has a Caribbean culture. This makes for the perfect combination of delicious food, beautiful beaches, and that laid back island vibe. It remains a British colony under British law and there are many expats from all over the world living in Belize.
Related Post: 6 Can`t Miss Things to do in Belize
Because of its location, Belize is also as a major transportation hub for smuggling illegal substances from Central America into Mexico and the United States. This inevitably breeds a higher degree of gang violence which significantly increases the countries statistics in areas such as homicide and violence.
Now, is the idea of gang violence and drug smuggling terrifying to most of us? Absolutely. But what are the chances you`ll find yourself caught up in the middle of that? Slim to none unless you`re into some shady shit that you`re not telling me about. So although this is definitely information you should be aware of; it shouldn`t necessarily discourage you from visiting.
Petty crime such as theft and trespassing do happen occasionally in Belize, but 95 percent of the times these crimes are committed out of convenience. As a rule of thumb in all countries, keep valuables out of sight whenever possible. Try not to flaunt your wealth or let people know that you have things of value in your bags or hotel rooms. With that being said; we had our camera equipment and laptops with us for our entire 3 month backpacking trip through Central America and never once had any issues, nor did we hear about any issues from fellow travelers.
Do Your Research
Research, research, and more research! Not only on the beautiful sights to see; but on the safe methods of transportation and the best and worst areas to travel through. Some general rules of thumb while traveling in Belize:
- Avoid Belize City (or stick to the tourist areas)
- Always plan your transportation through reputable companies (whether it`s a rental car, taxi, or shuttle bus)
- Don`t travel alone after dark
- Avoid doing drugs or drinking excessively – this puts you in a very vulnerable position
- Travel in groups when you go out at night
- Don`t show wealth by keeping valuables hidden
- Purchase travel insurance
- Drink only bottled water or sterilize tap water as flooding can periodically contaminate the water
- If by some chance you do get robbed, don’t fight back. Hand over the goods as quickly as possible and get out of there, that’s what insurance is for!
Talk To The Locals
Asking the locals is the best way to get up to date information on which areas might be safe and which ones to avoid. Most of the Belizean people are very friendly and willing to help out in any way possible. You can get advice from hotel staff, waiters, and anyone else you come across; making sure to get multiple opinions before making any big decisions. If you happen to know someone who lives in Belize or have friends who have recently traveled there, pick their brains as well!
Related Post: Driving to Caracol in Belize (Updated Information!)