Traveling by car to Mexico is something that all people must ever live to know the wonders that each centimeter of this lovely country offers. Mexico is a country with a great tourist offer for its contrasts within the geography. It has kilometers of paradisiacal beaches of warm and transparent waters, desert and mountain areas and an important historical heritage that’s worth knowing and seeing. Undoubtedly a beautiful experience – the landscapes are indisputably wonderful and worthy of being highly appreciated, a treasure that simply can’t be enjoyed equally when traveling by plane.
If you’re thinking of hitting the road this way, here are some things you should add to your checklist before fully enjoying your stay.
What should I start with?
The initial question you should always ask yourself is how many companions you will have and what kind of car is the best to go with, if you have a couple of options. If there are less than four people, for example, you and your partner, or you two and a maximum of two children, a sedan-type car would be fine if you have some plans for visiting tourist destinations with good road infrastructure. However, in case you plan to activate your explorer mode in jungles, deserts or mountains, we warmly recommend choosing a jeep-style vehicle.
Think very well about their safety and comfort, since it’s preferable that you hit the road in a family van or a van-style vehicle if you’re having a family trip. If you and your husband or boyfriend are travelling with your friends and you’re not sure how to drive this type of car or you don’t want to get ahead thinking about the dimensions of it, it’s better to travel in two cars.
You need to have a machine ready to deal with this adventure – a car in optimal conditions and with the appropriate characteristics to adapt to the type of trip you will undertake. Always take into account the expenses of gasoline, tolls and prepare everything you need. Also, make sure you resolved all mechanical issues in order to be able to relax and avoid contingencies.
What are some documents I might need when going by car?
First of all, a Mexican tourist card, also known as FMT. It’s necessary if you plan to visit Mexico for more than 72 hours or travel beyond the border free zone. It is a form which declares that your reason to visit the country is tourism.
If you plan to visit Mexico for less than 7 days, there is no cost for the visa. The cost is $24 dollars for trips of more than 7 days. The tourist card you obtain is valid for up to 180 days.
With respect to the valid driver’s license, your country’s driver’s license would be sufficient, although the ideal is to process the international one.
What about car insurance?
If you travel by car to Mexico from the USA or Canada, the liability coverage of car insurance of your country is automatically deactivated. If you have an accident and you’re guilty, you could have quite huge expenses or even spend time in jail if you don’t have car insurance for trips to Mexico. Keep in mind that, except for auto insurance, coverage for traveling to Mexico must be acquired in the United States or any other country you come from. To avoid these problems, you can buy a policy from companies like Mexican Insurance Store at any time – they’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and you just need to buy it online and print it. Yes, it’s that easy!
Will I need a vehicle import permit?
If you plan to travel further inside you need to obtain a vehicle import permit. If you don’t, you run the risk of expensive fines and/or that your vehicle is confiscated by Mexican customs officials. This document can only be issued in Banjercito, which is the official Mexican agency that takes care of such things. At present, the only exception to the requirement is for trips in the Baja California Peninsula and much of the state of Sonora.
Will I be safe there?
It’s probably the first thing you’ll think about. Safety when traveling to Mexico is one of the biggest barriers and main reasons why people hesitate to visit it, especially women. But Mexico is much more than you can read in the newspapers or watch on TV. And although it’s experiencing some problems and incidents, those aren’t normally related to the tourists who visit the country. So, if your trip goes by the usual tourist route and you follow the basic tips that you would follow in any other country, we’re quite sure that everything will be just fine.
With regard to security, it’s best to make routes that cover main roads or highways (tolls) before toll-free or secondary ones. Avoid driving at night and carrying too much money or valuable luggage with you – you can leave all those cool branded sunglasses or that golden pendant you got from your boyfriend in the hotel as well. You should always ask people from the accommodation which areas of the city are not recommended to visit by car. And to avoid them – of course.
The state of the roads in general is acceptable, and along your route you’ll find a multitude of road controls, which are normally performed by army, so don’t get scared! And of course, whenever you park, park in guarded parking lots – no worries, there are people whose job is to protect you so that you can fully enjoy your trip.
Okay, and how to find the best routes to travel around Mexico?
The easiest way to find the best possible options is to install the application that the Ministry of Communications and Transportation of Mexico offers for free. It’s shamefully easy to use and to trace your route on the roads of the country where you can observe all the details and to drive successfully from your starting point to your final destination. And here’s the kicker: this app will also show you the approximate cost of gasoline according to your car, as well as rather precise price of the tolls. Dope? For sure.
If you travel during high season, there may be mishaps, protests or repairs, and to avoid mishaps even before leaving it’s recommended that you check the Twitter account of Caminos y Puentes Federales (@Capufe). You can always get informed about the state of the roads, as well as if there were any accidents that are blocking the road.
And finally, any ideas for some nice routes?
Mexico is quite huge, so if you want to enjoy a good road trip, it would be great if you planned your tours by regions. It’s not the same to drive from Tijuana to Cancun and just touring a state or a route. For example, you can go to Baja California Sur and Norte, take the Mayan route that covers the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan, go through Veracruz from end to end or launch to discover all the Magical Towns of a specific state.