First of all, before leaving for a trip through Mexico, get your Vehicle Import Permit. This is as important as your passport! Get it online before leaving the comfort of your home. There are some entry points where you can get yours, but ensure your place of entry is one of them! There are places inside Mexico where you can get one, but you have to get there first!
- Insurance – Do you want to stay out of a Mexican gaol? Then get your Mexican Insurance, not International Insurance, not North American Insurance, but Mexican Insurance. The others don’t work! If you don’t have the correct insurance and are involved in an accident – you can see the inside of a Mexican gaol!
- Roads – Some roads are free but beware the bad surfaces in some places. On other routes, you will have to pay the toll. These roads are well kept, but you don’t see the little villages, and you don’t get to meet the man in the street.
- Police – You will encounter roadblocks, but these are well signposted, and if you are stopped, you will be asked basic questions and will be waved on your way. But don’t mess with the cops – they are waiting for smart-arse tourists!
- Rules of the road – Speed limits are well signposted. Regular routes range from 20 to 40 kph while toll roads vary between 70 to 100 kph. There are dotted lines on the shoulder; these will become separate lanes to enable overtaking on your left. Trucks must travel slowly and before passing, make sure you understand what the signs on the rear mean. Semi Doble Remolgue has two trailers attached to this horse. There are also turn signals if a trucker indicates to the left he is telling you it’s safe to pass on the left, and not necessarily turning left himself. The decision is still on you to make sure the road ahead is clear.
- Hazards – Beware of animals on the road – dogs, cats and farm animals. Also, especially on side streets, you will come across potholes and rocks on the way.
- Fuel – Demax stations in small towns may only supply 87 octanes and in larger cities will have 91 octanes. Keep cash for gas as not all gas stations have credit card facilities. Ablutions are usually OK. There are also signposts to inform you of the next gas stop.
Places to see
If travelling down through Baja, you will find friendly locals who will welcome you to their towns with their generosity, with a laid back attitude and the food will be basic Mexican food, but excellent. Baja is a thinly populated semi-desert to the desert countryside. The beaches are amazing, and the scenery is unique. Don’t expect to have all the mod cons of the USA – even electricity is not always available, but cell phone reception is generally reasonable. Don’t let the border crossing set the tone for your holiday. Choose a quieter passage and stay away from places like Tijuana.