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Budget Travel / Mexico & Central America

Travel Detective Tip on Mexico Travel: Go now

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Uxmal MexicoThere has been even more fallout from the so-called H1N1 flu, or the “infodemic,” as I like to call it.

What’s so crazy about that is that it’s no longer front page news.

Gee, duh. I was saying that two weeks ago.

Most importantly, it’s become a great time to go to Mexico.

It’s reported that the Mexican economy may lose more then $2 billion on this one hit alone. I think it will be bigger than that.

They are going to take a big hit on their GDP, but that means it’s a buyers market and a great silver lining if you practice good personal hygiene and great common sense.

I laughed so hard last week when a flight from Germany was diverted to Boston because a passenger was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Are you kidding me? Every time I get on a plane we’re all exhibiting flu like symptoms. Come on.

I recently spoke with my good pal Barry Golson, author of Retirement Without Borders and Gringos in Paradise:

Uxmal Mexico more ruinsPeter Greenberg (PG): Barry, you spend a lot of your time in Mexico–so what do you make of all this?

Barry Golson (BG): Well I came back just as things were ebbing but I really was in the heart of the epidemic in the sense that we were watching Mexican TV. As you know Mexico City went into total panic—masks, ton of stuff closed down including movie theaters and restaurants—and it really looked pretty scary from where we were. But we were living in a small village on the Pacific coast and it really was a non-event. The government ordered that restaurants and public places be shut down. And they did it for two or three days but there have been no cases; not even anybody sniffling. People took it with a grain of salt. Although I did see a couple of guys put masks on their dogs.

PG: Come on! I know a couple of dogs that need masks but it has nothing to do with the swine flu.

BG: Yeah, we were down there with a doctor who said those masks are almost useless. Anything can get through to the person wearing it and it’s only of some use in helping to prevent the spread.

PG: A lot of your friends know you live in Mexico. Were they thinking you were nuts to be there?

Ancient Clay MaskBG: Yeah, absolutely. We got emails saying “Are you OK?” It’s so crazy because Mexico has 107 million people and let me tell you, as someone who really likes Mexico—not all Mexicans are trying to get over the border, not all Mexicans are shooting each other in drug wars, not all Mexicans are political, and not all Mexicans have the swine flu. This is a big city with a huge economy and lots of people who were willing to go through this and come out the other end.

PG: How close is where you live to Mexico City?

BG: I guess we’re about 4 hours.

PG: So basically 107 million people and three Mexicans putting masks on their dogs.

BG: Yeah, you know though, the kids in my village are still not going to school.

PG: See I happen to think it was a great conspiracy of kids. Because they all get days off from school. I’m jealous. So your recommendation to people right now?

Archway RuinsBG: I just think it’s been devastating, absolutely devastating. People who live hand to mouth in terms of restaurants are completely broke and they’re certainly not going to get bailed out by their government. So I say go. Do your research ahead of time and see if there have been any incidences of outbreaks; but the incidences are fewer and fewer. Imagine if two people had gotten flu in Chicago … would you really say that you don’t want to fly to Phoenix?

PG: Exactly. I wish that people would just get a map out and look. Cancun, the whole Riviera Maya, the Yucatan, even Puerto Vallarta—it just doesn’t even register.

BG: No it doesn’t. And some of that credit goes to the Mexican government—they really shut things down pretty quickly, took it very seriously, and were completely transparent. Compare that to the Chinese a few years back during SARS epidemic when they tried to hide it. Kudos to the Mexican government.

Mayan decorPG: It’s interesting because when you land now in Japan or China there are people at the jetways with thermal imaging units to take your temperature as a reaction to this. How about being proactive and doing that for every passenger, 24 hours a day, every day of the year? I’d feel a whole lot better.

BG: I think you have as good a chance of catching the flu as getting hit by lightning. Now I’m not a medical guy, and I do not want to be the one who says it’s absolutely OK but I will tell you this—we have a house down there and when we’re away we rent it out. We were convinced that the people who were checking into our house from the United States were going to freak out. We sent out an email saying, “If you want to cancel we understand and we’ll issue a full refund.” The note back was, “Hey, you can’t stop living.” They showed up at our doorstep.

PG: More power to people like that who can actually see through fear because that’s all it is. Bottom line is, it’s not just Mexico; it’s every one of your travel plans whether it is in Asia or Africa. Do your homework, see your doctor. If your immune system isn’t compromised, if you don’t have a pre-existing medical condition, and you can practice some basic common sense, my advice is go.

By Peter S. Greenberg, from Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio.

How affordable is travel to Mexico? Check out some of the last-minute Memorial Day weekend deals we dug up, for travel May 22-25. (Note that some carriers suspend or limit service to Mexico during the summer off-season.)

AeroMexico
Houston to Puerto Vallarta – $274.57
Los Angeles to Mexico City – $364.20
New York JFK to Mexico City – $340.63
New York JFK to Cancun – $275.45
Miami to Cancun – $378.75

Mexicana
Los Angeles to Mexico City – $ 474.63
New York JFK to Mexico City – $ 320.63
Boston to Cancun – $267.61

Air Tran
Baltimore to Cancun – $401.53

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