Q – I don’t know if you all give advice but I guess it’s worth a shot given my situation. I’m young (mid twenties) petite female who just booked a solo trip to Cozumel for five days in May. Given that I’ve been there before, albeit with a companion, I thought that I chose a safe place to travel. Now, however, I am finding disturbing reports such as the gang rape of a young woman in a “cruise-line recommended shop” in broad daylight. I am becoming seriously worried. All I want is a quiet vacation to Cozumel so I can rest on the beaches/read do a bit of shopping/scuba diving and visit the Bob Marley Bar so I can watch the waves. I even got an all-inclusive option at my hotel so I don;t have to venture out for food at night. But I did plan to visit restaurants, shops, and beaches during the day. Other than avoiding inebriation, how can I minimize risk of assault/etc. when apparently even shops in well-lit areas can be dangerous?

Sidelight: I also apparently look Latin American so every time I end up in the Caribbean/South America or LA I feel like I receive more attention from the local lotharios than my lighjter-skinned, blonde friends do. I’ve also never traveled alone before. I don;t have the option of having this trip refunded and none of my friends can join me due to work commitments. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

A – A vacation ought to be something you anticipate – not fear. Discuss this with your travel agent. Given what has been happening in Cozumel, your agent may be able to work something out. Here are some observations:

Most people go to Cozumel without incident

We would not allow our own family to travel to Mexico alone oif they were your age.

You may be underestimating the chances that someone will slip something in your drink. This is getting to be quite common.

The one thing that most bothers us about your scenario is that the police in Mexico are often, very often, corrupt. This is a game-changer and we would never book a trip of this kind for someone your age traveling alone.

It isn’t all about money. Cancel the trip.