Fear Of Driving In Mexico Quickly Healed
In 1969 I made my first trip to Mexico by car. At age 18 I drove my grandmother and mother from Kansas City to Eagle Pass, Texas, to visit an uncle and family and they suggested we drive across the border to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico for dinner.
My new VW Beetle glided (ok, putt-putted is better) across the border and all of a sudden I was an international traveler. We went to a restaurant and for the first time in my life I was able to legally order a beer with my dinner. The music, the decorations, all made the experience exciting.
From that early trip I suppose I've made 100 trips or more, with some as long as 5,000 miles of driving and each time I see something different. Once while driving in the Sonora border we ran across some local Indians selling baby eagles and rattlesnakes; illegal even in Mexico. But mostly what you see in Mexico is the beautiful landscapes and the lives of the people. I have to admit that I am hooked and always looking for a reason to go. Of course, falling in love with a Mexican and marrying helps increase our trips there.
When I started writing about driving in Mexico, I immediately started getting emails from readers of Mexico Connect asking about driving conditions. Most are from people who are excited and eager to learn how to enjoy driving in Mexico. But occasionally I get some that represent sheer terror. I once got an email from a person who seemed to be expecting to see 'burned-out US cars" all along the way from Nogales to Mexico City; perhaps thinking that it was like the old days of outrunning the Indians when settling the West Coast of the US.
With that in mind I thought that I would provide some 'tools' to help defuse fears that people have.
1. Buy Insurance first.
It doesn't make sense to drive without car insurance anywhere, including the United States. Be sure you have Mexican insurance with a company that has good adjusters throughout Mexico in case you have an accident.
2. Plan your crossing into Mexico.
I have learned that the best thing to do is to arrive a day before you plan to start your Mexican drive and be sure your car has had the oil changed, tire pressure checked, belts looked at. Buy some STP gas treatment or other type products and add a bottle each time you gas up in Mexico and you'll have no problems with the gas. Your Mexican insurance company will have info on clearing your car into Mexico but you can also read about it at: http://www.sanbornsinsurance.com/mexcustoms.html
It really isn't difficult these days if you bring your title or registration, and a notarized note if you don't own your car giving permission to take it into Mexico.
3. Drive only during the day.
This requires you to plan the distance you will drive each day. Here is a neat site that has official state maps of Mexico: http://www.virtualmex.com/mexico_state_map.htm
You can even get the mileage between certain cities at: http://www.virtualmex.com/mileage.htm
4. Take time to enjoy the adventure.
I see people who try to do fast driving. To me, the fun of travel is to see the scenery, meet the people, see things that normal travelers don't see.
Mexico is a changing country. In 1969 the roads weren't very modern, but today there are many toll roads that meet or exceed US standards. While it is still a bit different than the US, there is little to fear if you use common sense.
Dean and Yoly Hughson reside in Fountain Hills, Arizona and are frequent travelers to Mexico. Yoly, a native of Gtz. Zamora, Veracruz, works in the hotel industry and Dean is a consultant in the egg industry ( http://www.eggman.cc). They can be reached for travel advice at firstname.lastname@example.org They also maintain the Tecolutla, Veracruz, webpage at www.tecolutla.com.