Doing some RV travel in Mexico can be a highlight in your life. It’s a beautiful country, with palm lined beaches, colonial cities, ancient Mayan and Aztec pre-Hispanic treasures as well as wonderful people. I have only seen a fraction of the wonders of Mexico and hope sometime to have an opportunity to see more. When staying at the Low-Hi Ranch in Deming, NM, it was a custom each Tuesday for many of us to carpool to the border crossing in Columbus, park our cars and walk across to have lunch and shop at The Pink Store.
I have also parked at the Wal-Mart in Douglas, AZ, and walked across to Agua Prieta for lunch and shopping a couple of times. And, when in Yuma, I crossed on foot into Algodones, Mexico, to get two pair of new glasses. Crossing back was an issue here as there are vast numbers of Americans and Canadians who go on a regular basis for medications as well as to see dentists and doctors. I saved quite a bit of money on my glasses, but I’m still not sure it was worth it.
My best Mexican adventure was while I was volunteering at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This trip was with a park employee who lived in Sonoyta and took a group of us to see the southern portion of the Sonora Desert.
All of these visits to Mexico were during the day and I was always with at least one other person. There were never any bad moments. Note that I have not actually done any RV travel in Mexico.
There are many sensational stories of shootings, as well as thefts and robberies of RVs in Mexico, but stop for a minute and think of how many shootings we have in the good old US. I would hazard a guess that there are many more thefts and robberies of RVs in the states than in Mexico – we just don’t hear of them in the news as often. Yet we’re not afraid to travel in the US. No matter where we are, we just need to stay alert and take reasonable precautions.
• best time to cross the border is early in the morning
• get out of border towns quickly
• don’t travel at night
• start your drive days early
• avoid flashing money and fancy jewelry, smartphones and tech gadgets
• unless you’re at a resort or the beach, wear pants and sensible shoes – nothing shouts “foreigner” like shorts and flip-flops
It’s important to do some research and plan your trip route in advance. Get some good maps at mapas-de-mexico or mexico-road-maps – roads vary from turnpike style toll roads to dirt trails – you need to know which routes you can travel safely. Some road have bumps – called topes – to slow traffic, so watch out for them or your dishes will go flying.
You need to have Mexican insurance for your RV and any car you might be towing and it would be smart to get it from an agent in the US before you leave home, though you can get it at the border if you forget.
There are two companies offering Mexican Insurance that I have heard are reliable. One is Mexico Insurance Services in San Diego, CA, which offers a “limited territory” policy that covers several of the border states, as well as an all-Mexico policy. The other one is International Insurance Group which has recently teamed up with IBA West. Every link I clicked on for them took me to a page that seemed to be looking for more agents. AAA.com also sells insurance for Mexico - I've always found AAA to be helpful and reliable.
Whatever you do, don’t pinch pennies on the insurance.
Let the insurance company know where you are planning to travel so they can make sure you have the right insurance and permits.
Documents Needed for RV Travel in Mexico:
• Valid passport – leave a copy of your passport with a friend or relative while you’re traveling in Mexico. In case it is lost or stolen, you’ll need to contact a local US consulate, so keep their phone number and location with you.
• Tourist card (obtain at border)
• Valid vehicle registration certificate in the driver’s name stating legal ownership
• Valid driver’s license
• International credit card in the name of the driver of the vehicle
• Valid Mexican insurance (obtain prior to arriving at the border)
Now that I’ve scared you half to death, here’s an idea: Travel with a Caravan. Though many consider me to be fairly intrepid, I must admit that this would be my choice.
The Escapees RV Club has a BOF (Birds of a Feather) Group called “Mexican Connection Chapter 8” and they plan a trip to some spot in Mexico each year – that sounds like a great idea to me. If you’re hesitant about RV travel in Mexico on your own, or reluctant to do all the research and planning, consider going with a caravan. There will be someone experienced to guide you through the details of the border crossing, give you information about the regions you will visit and make campground arrangements. You’ll be traveling with others, so you’ll have companionship to share the adventure.
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