Four Things to Know About Driving in Mexico
Summer and fall are perfect for roads trips. We escape the heat of Puerto Vallarta and go east, north or south. There is so much to see and if we lived a dozen lifetimes, we wouldn’t see all of Mexico. We advise checking ahead to see is some mountain and coastal roads are closed, due to flooding and/or landslides. We prep the car ahead of time by having tires checked, all fluids leveled, wheels balanced and good sharp windshield wipers. It’s nice to start the trip out with a clean car, but it seems we trash it inadvertently while on our journey. Too much good food to eat at roadside taco stands.
First thing we recommend is don’t drive after dark. Lodging throughout Mexico is very affordable. Our favorites are the “no-tell-motels” where we can get an hourly rate. We used to blush when checking in but over the years we’ve realized that many people use these accommodations. They have high security and fenced-in parking lots.
Have cash (pesos) on your trip. Toll roads (cuotas) won’t take credit cards and you don’t want to find yourself in a line, with no cash to proceed. ATM’s are far and few between in small towns. Keep your stash of cash in several places in your vehicle and on your person for safety reasons.
Never pass up a chance to fill your gas tank. When we see a Pemex, we top off. Don’t risk running out of fuel. You will inevitably be rescued, no doubt, but it won’t be the best memory of your adventure, standing around in the heat, tediously uncomfortable. It’s hazardous, too, as some highways don’t have wide shoulders and little room to park for emergencies.
Be on the alert for animals. In many places throughout Mexico, livestock runs liberated; (that’s free-range, officially.) Cows especially will wander up onto the pavement, completely unaware of the danger they create for themselves and travelers. Horses are a little smarter and usually stay off the road but keep your eyes peeled for pigs, sheep, goats and the ubiquitous dogs. Topes are a huge hazard. Some are painted yellow or white, and leading up to them you may encounter ridged concrete that will warn you the big traffic bumps are ahead. Always slow down going through any inhabited place; don’t let an encounter with the law ruin your fun.
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