POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 11:04pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:01am
The U.S. State Department's advisory says "the greatest violence" is near the US-Mexico border.
TYLER - For decades heading to Mexico's beaches is almost like a rite of passage for students all over the U.S. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of State, 100,000 teens and college head to Mexico for Spring Break each year.
It's a time to relax, let loose and get in plenty of recreation.
College student Adrian Wyley says his buddies spend the semester dreaming up Spring Break plans.
"A lot of people are going home with family," said Wyley, a student at Tyler Junior College. "They go on vacation, to the beach, swimming."
He admits, Mexico is a popular choice.
"Some of us can just go have a good time," he said.
He says some students go to Mexico because of the lower drinking age.
That statement, is what the federal government fears.
As Mexico's wave of drug-related violence increases and the death toll approaches 8,000 in the last year - the U.S. State Department has renewed a travel advisory  urging students to be careful traveling to Mexico.
The government says violence has escalated in border towns and criminals are targeting Americans at times, especially students whom they feel are more vulnerable.
Longtime East Texas travel consultant Evelyn Staton with Canyon Creek Travel 
says in year's past, Spring Break trips to Mexico were booked solid.
But times have drastically changed.
"There is a lot more hesitation due to the fact there are political problems, assignations and killings," she said.
A mother herself, she says resort-areas in Mexico seem to be safe. In addition, she says the economy hasn't slowed travel one bit. For students looking to make a trip for Spring Break, she recommends cruises. She says packages to Europe are also very affordable these days.
As for Mexico, the government's advisory says "the greatest violence" is near the US-Mexico border.
The Houston Chronicle has created a database 
displaying many of these stories. It shows the faces and tells the stories of 230 people from America who have been killed in Mexico over the past five years.
Eighteen-year-old Austen Danielsen is among the dead Americans. He was visiting Matamoras, right across the US-Texas border with friends, and left a nightclub.
He was later found beaten and dragged to death.
College student Wyley says unfortunately, some won't heed the warning. They will brave a war-torn country for a shot at a good time...no matter what the risk.