Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice

When you cross the border into Mexico, all of the stresses and worries of hectic United States living evaporate, leaving you instantly refreshed and rejuvenated.  Do you stay feeling so awesome after hitting your first pothole, the first American tourist that flies past you over 100mph, the first time soldiers with machine guns are digging through your car?  Here is a quick recap of problems, suggestions, annoyances, and misconceptions and general Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice.

-If you drive into Mexico your car insurance is no longer valid.  You can buy Mexican insurance at the border and there are several different options.  Since we have an old dumpy car, we got the cheapest available plan, $6 per day which would at least keep us out of prison in the event of a fender bender.  No one ever asked if we had this or not and I think a lot of travelers skip it. I wouldn’t take my chances.

-To travel south of Ensenada, tourists are supposed to get a card from immigration for $25 each.  We got them but this was also probably unnecessary, as no one once looked at our passports.  One soldier at a checkpoint did ask for my passport once but I told him “No tengo (I don’t have it)” and handed him my California driver’s license without a problem.

-Everyone told us to keep a $20 bill in a visible spot in the car.  Apparently $20 is “the fine” if the Federales (Mexican federal police, notoriously corrupt) stop you.  We were also advised to never give them your passport because to get it back you’ll have to pay much more than $20.  We never had any encounters with the Federales.

-Watch out for potholes!  We hit some bad ones but were lucky enough to not blow any tires.   Some of the worst we spotted had to be more than a foot deep.  No recovery after hitting that.  Also, there are a lot of unmarked speed bumps.  If you were driving the speed limit these wouldn’t be a problem.  However, you won’t be driving the speed limit.

-Don’t run out of gas!  Most Baja maps show you which towns have gas stations.  There are some very long stretches without and you’ll need a full tank!  Plan wisely, or you’ll end up stranded!

-No one drives the speed limit.  If the sign said “40 km per hour” I tried not to exceed 40 miles per hour.

-People hassle you to buy tours and souvenirs, especially in Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas.  Just say “No gracias,” firmly and continue like they aren’t there.   If you make eye contact you will never be left alone.

-Drugs will be offered to you all the time (especially if you have dreadlocks or other hippie-ish characteristics).  Rarely do tourists ever have a problem in México unless they are looking for that stuff.  It’s a great way to get robbed, kidnapped, or jailed.  The booze is cheap and legal!  Stick with that.

-There are about eight military checkpoints (different from the Federales) along the way.  Headed south we were searched at two of the checkpoints.  Northward we were searched at all but one stop.  We always hid our money but at times we forgot to put away the bribe $20 bill.  The soldiers never took it or anything else and were always pretty polite.  Just don’t bring anything into the country that you don’t want found.

Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints. Baja Mexico road trip advice
Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints.

-When you’re eating and drinking you should tip around 15%.  Nothing is expensive so don’t get cheap on people.

-The tap water is safe to consume in some places.  Ask the locals!

Mexico is a lot of fun, and actually really easy to travel in.  Don’t let the scary news reports keep you away from a good time.  We hope this Baja Mexico road trip advice article helps all our fellow travelers out there!

Please follow and like us:
error
Advertisements

From Norte to Sur! A Baja Mexico Road Trip

The second day of our Baja Mexico Road Trip we faced the toughest drive of the trip.  Ensenada to San Ignacio, a grueling 800km trek across the desert from Baja Norte to Baja Sur.  We set out around 8am and drove for a few hours before stopping at a roadside restaurant for delicious huevos rancheros and coffee.  The simple, delicious food-homemade tortillas, numerous condiments, and spicy salsa-is one of our favorite parts of México!

Baja Mexico Road Trip

After breakfast, the sun got stronger and the road rougher as we would our way through one of the craziest cactus-filled deserts we’ve ever seen.  Thank God we got our A/C fixed!  Luckily we had been advised to have a full gas tank and plenty of water as there were no services for hours and hours.  Nothing but a 2-lane, potholed highway winding its way through more and more “curvas peligrosas” (dangerous curves).  Getting stuck behind semis a couple of times was annoying because the road was hardly ever straight enough to pass without risking a head-on collision.

Baja Mexico Road Trip

After nearly 12 hours of driving, just before the sun set, we finally made it to San Ignacio.  Out of nowhere, a tiny lake and a palm-covered oasis town in the midst of all the dryness!  We found a wonderful $10 campground right on the laguna (Camping Los Petales) with basic showers, bathrooms, and kayaks for rent.  Walked into the tranquil town for some tacos and slept peacefully in our tent, despite the croaking bullfrogs.

Baja Mexico Road Trip
Camping San Ignacio

Baja Mexico Road Trip

San Ignacio was tiny but pleasant and full of friendly people!  Highlights were the gorgeous old Domincan church and buying a cheap bag of delicious dates (they grow on the palms all over town).  Sad we couldn’t stay longer, we headed off to La Paz!

Baja Mexico Road Trip San Ignacio Cathedral

Click here for day one of the adventure!

Click here for day three of the adventure!

Like reading about this Baja Mexico Road Trip? Check out our archives for more great aventuras! Also, don’t forget about our Instagram and Youtube Channel!

Please follow and like us:
error