If you’re a passionate traveller like myself, there are no limits for you. You’ve probably heard your friends telling you about safety hazards, this and that, but with that attitude, you might as well just stay at home and wait for the piano to crash on your head. Of course, it doesn’t mean you should go anywhere head first, but with a little preparation and caution, you can go anywhere.
A road trip to Mexico really sounds enticing, it’s not too far, not too expensive, and definitely promises some breathtaking views and time to remember. Supposing you’ve already planned your route, here are a couple practical pieces of advice on how not to let anything spoil your Mexican adventure.
Get Your Papers Together
Besides general things, such as technical check-up and usual driving documents, make sure you have all the papers necessary to cross the Mexican border. Of course, as you can guess, all U.S. citizens over the age of 16 have to present a valid passport, while all minors can enter with a birth certificate. What’s more, all U.S. tourists going further than the Mexican Free Zone must have a valid tourist card, the so-called FM-M which can be obtained at the border, among other places.
When it comes to the documentation for your vehicle, you will need a temporary import permit which can be obtained at the border, or at the Mexican consulates in the following cities: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Bernardino and Chicago. It can be purchased six months before the trip, and contrary to any official or unofficial source of information, cannot be obtained outside the Mexican Free Zone, in the country interior.
In case you’re planning to take your children or pets make sure you’ve got the right documentation for them as well. Regardless of the age and requirements, the passport is definitely the safest option for children. Also, the more the better, documentation, of course, so basically take everything you have.
Driving in Mexico
As already mentioned, make sure you do the regular car check-up before setting off, and of course, don’t go anywhere without a proper vehicle (but also health) insurance. Your regular insurance usually doesn’t apply abroad, so you’d be uninsured, which is illegal in Mexico. Safety first.
Regardless whether this is your first time driving through Mexico, or you’ve already got some experience, Travel Buddies option is a good idea as it enables you to connect with other people travelling through Mexico and drive together.
When it comes to fuel, be aware that there aren’t that many gas stations in Mexico as in the US. Also, look for Pemex, which is a government-owned franchise and avoid buying fuels from the back of the truck, usually in the middle of nowhere, as the prices are enormous and the quality questionable. To recap, make sure you fill up regularly, say when you’re half full. What’s more, be advised they usually only take pesos and no credit cards at the gas stations, so be prepared.
To be on the safe side, you might want to ask around and find some mechanics that are on your planned helpful, so a lot of them will pull over to give you a hand. Also, there are the so-called Green Angels, a patrol of mechanics financed by the Mexican government which cruises the highways two times in 24 hours to help tourists who had troubles on the road. Their mechanic services are covered by the government, so you’ll only have to pay for fuel or supply expenses.
As you can see, driving in Mexico is not all about praying for your life. There are dangerous places, of course, but for the most part, people are actually really kind, friendly and hospitable. Just make sure you do your part to keep yourself safe and sound.
To contact Oscar Padilla Mexican Insurance,
San Diego, CA, USA