Driving to Mexico was easier than I expected. We entered from Laredo Texas.
(Note: I’m currently gathering more up to date information which will be added beginning January 2017)
When entering Mexico, you first start in a free zone, a sort of buffer between the USA and the official border.
The only advice I can give, is don’t go through the Declarations Lane, that is where you go if you want to pay taxes for all your stuff! Just follow the signs for “Modulo de Control Vehicular” to get your permit for your car. Once inside, they will make you pay a fee for everybody in your car (about $25 USD per person), then off to the photocopy section where they will make copies of all the needed papers (small fee), then use your Credit Card to post your bond (about $30 USD). You get a sticker, put it inside of your car just below your rear-view mirror on the left side.
You then drive about 20 km to another check-point. This time, you pass by a light. Red – you have to pull over and get checked out. Green – welcome to Mexico!
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but driving in Mexico has pretty much the same rules as in Canada or the USA, although many rarely follow them. The flashing green light means a red light is coming. Transitos are eager to give tickets to foreigners, red lights and speeding are the main things that will get you a ticket. Unfortunately, bribery is common in Mexico, especially with Transitos. They will start with a high price for a ticket (e.g. $800 pesos), but will often settle on $200 pesos. I don’t advocate bribery, but it’s good to know just in case.
TIP: A lateral is the service road and used to turn left. You first enter the lateral on the right before you need to turn left. You will have a light from the lateral for left turns or you can continue on the lateral or merge back to the main road. Once you get used to this, you see the logic!
Here is my route from Laredo to Puerto Vallarta. Download here
You will need Mexican Insurance while in Mexico. I was recommended Sanborn’s Insurance. They have an online quote system. You pay by credit card and they e-mail you proof of Insurance within 15 minutes.
TIP: I find that if you lower the liability to $50,000, you lower your costs significantly (and when comparing with other companies, they also have $50k).
TO TOLL OR NOT TO TOLL
You have a choice between Toll Roads and the free roads when driving to your destination. I tried both. Toll roads are quite expensive (almost double if you have a trailer!) but well worth it. It is pretty much stress free, as you have a 4 lane highway most of the time, with emergency phones, a shoulder, gas stations, etc. The free roads are very narrow (often time with no shoulder or a huge drop off (which would be impossible with my trailer) and you are always stuck behind a truck.
TIP: When a car or truck turns on his left flasher, it is a sign that it is clear to pass. If you put on your left flasher, you are telling the guy behind you that it is OK to pass you.
I pretty much stuck with PEMEX for gas. Gas prices where better than in Canada ($0.94 per litre Dec 2016).
TIP: Fill up on 1/2 a tank. You never know how far the next gas station is.
TIP: Pay in Pesos and try to give exact change.
TIP: Check that they start pumping at zero.
If the attendant washes your windshield or checks the oil, give a little tip, like 5-10 pesos.
I found my GPS to be my best friend during this whole trip. Make sure you download the Mexican maps. Garmin has some here: Garmin Mexican Maps
TIP: Use common sense, detours and the age of maps may give you erroneous information. Trust the signs unless the GPS is directing you via a shortcut to avoid traffic or a city centre.