A friend has asked me to fly to Mexico to help her drive her van 1,000 miles to the border and then into the US. I've been to Mexico numerous time and never had any problems. Everyone I met there was wonderful.

But I traveled by bus. I'm wondering if driving a "vanlife" van (high roof, short wheelbase, no side windows -- clearly a vehicle someone lives in) would make it a target for theft. FWIW it's not a MB Sprinter. Thanks.

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I don't know how that wouldn't be dangerous.  You would have to check your route and the US travel warnings to see just how dangerous.  Also, you probably need negative corona tests to get across the border.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory....  

"Do Not Travel To:

Colima state due to crime and kidnapping.
Guerrero state due to crime and kidnapping.
Michoacan state due to crime and kidnapping.
Sinaloa state due to crime and kidnapping
Tamaulipas state due to crime and kidnapping.
Reconsider Travel To:

Baja California state due to crime and kidnapping.
Chihuahua state due to crime and kidnapping.
Coahuila state due to crime and kidnapping.
Durango state due to crime.
Guanajuato state due to crime.
Jalisco state due to crime and kidnapping.
Mexico state due to crime and kidnapping.
Morelos state due to crime and kidnapping.
Nayarit state due to crime.
Sonora state due to crime and kidnapping.
Zacatecas state due to crime and kidnapping.
Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:

Aguascalientes state due to crime.
Baja California Sur state due to crime.
Chiapas state due to crime.
Hidalgo state due to crime.
Mexico City due to crime and kidnapping.
Nuevo Leon state due to crime and kidnapping.
Oaxaca state due to crime.
Puebla state due to crime and kidnapping.
Queretaro state due to crime.
Quintana Roo state due to crime.
San Luis Potosi state due to crime.
Tabasco state due to crime.
Tlaxcala state due to crime.
Veracruz state due to crime.
Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To:

Campeche state.
Yucatan state."

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As @Diesseldorf mentioned, depends on where you're going and what you're doing, and if you take commonsense precautions. I've lived and worked in Mexico, and studied there in university. Following State Dept and other guidance is a good idea. But overall, if you are reasonable and prudent, you're likely to be fine.

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My partner and I are currently driving our van through Mexico— we’ve been here 3 months thus far and haven’t had a single issue (we still have another 3 months to go). While it can be worthwhile to look at government recommendations for where is safe to travel, we’ve been through plenty of states on the “do not travel” list and I wouldn’t agree with many of the generalisations made about these regions. Some cities and certain areas within are a no-go, sure, but with some basic common sense, we have been free-camping on the street almost every night without incident and we’ve comfortably driven through 10 states.

Especially as someone who’s been to Mexico before, you should be more than able to assess yourself what’s a good area to stay in and what’s an area you need to travel through quickly and minimise stops. Overwhelmingly, Mexico is a beautiful place with kind, generous people— if you don’t go looking for trouble, respect local rules, and employ a friendly attitude, you’re likely to enjoy a spectacular road trip through the country. 

For reference, we have a Dodge RAM Promaster (long wheelbase, high top, 1 small side window, no other markings) and have never once felt targeted, either in terms of petty crime or more serious encounters. I say: go for it and enjoy the trip with your friend 🙂