RV Driving Safety in Mexico
RV's Can Explore Mexico Safely
RV'ing In Mexico Is A Great Experience - But Is It Safe?
RV safety in Mexico versus RV thefts in Canada and the USA. OK, let's be honest.
In 2013, I have not heard of a verifiable RV encounter with bad people on the road. It is my belief that even though things were not as bad as people thought a few years ago, everything is even better today.
In all of 2012, there were three verified reports of RV's encountering trouble (theft) in Mexico. That is pretty sad for those involved and I am not making light of their grief. But how many RV's were broken into or stolen in the USA or Canada last year? Stuff happens everywhere. Cartels have better things to do than rob people in RV's. The thieves were just hoodlums.
The following story is left here not to frighten you, but to make you think about what is behind most of the "horror stories" you hear about Mexico. If you have an open mind, you will see what I mean. If you do not, and see only the negative, then you don't belong in Mexico anyway.
2011 started off with a sad story of the shooting death of a missionary woman. She and her missionary husband were driving a big, tricked-out $50,000 Chevy pickup (a prime candidate for theft) back to McAllen from their part-time home in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. That was an awful tragedy yes, but I had driven through San Fernando a few weeks prior in a 2006 Ford Escape with no problems. I send RV'ers past there with no problems. I have driven past San Fernando since. You bypass the town, there is no reason to stop and visit (although I did that so I could honestly report on it). The place has bad Karma with a capital K.
So, when you read the news, please try to get the whole story, not just the sensational generalizations. Those missionaries lived in San Fernando part-time and had made enemies of some bad people there. They were good people. In later interviews, the husband admitted that they had been warned to get out of town and people had tried to steal their truck before. So their profile is unlikely to resemble yours. Go to one of the RV discussion boards to listen to others who have driven in Mexico recently. Those are your peers, not missionaries.
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As an aside, if you are still paranoid about driving through Tamaulipas, visit my store for a road log that completely avoids the state.
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How many RV's were broken into, stolen or otherwise bothered in the USA in that time? I guarantee you it was more than 3. Let's say that I only hear of half the things. Let's say there were 6 incidents. I still say you are safe in Mexico.
But I do not guarantee you are any safer than you are in the USA - or Canada. Why do we think we are so immune from reality when we travel? Stuff happens everywhere. Don't condemn an entire country or cancel a trip because of some isolated incidents or rumors.
There is a newish bulletin board for RV'ers that I really like. The discussions are lively and often the contributors know what they are talking about. But, just like any board (including the one I keep planning on creating for this site), there are some negative Nellies who spread disinformation. After reading my breathless prose, take a gander at this RV forum.
RVhotlineCanada.com said this: The RCMP in BC has created a new section to combat what it calls an epidemic of RV, campers, boat, snowmobile, and all-terrain vehicle thefts.
Uh, are you afraid to drive your RV to Canada? I doubt it.
There are something like 300 shootings a month in the good old USA. The Australian government issued an advisory warning their citizens to think twice about coming to the USA when an Australian university student was shot dead in a small town in Oklahoma.
Oh dear! Don't go to Pennsylvania either: See story.
Oh Gosh! In Myrtle Beach. SC, there is another epidemic: See story.
A string of RV and camper break-ins in Horry County, S.C., has topped 100 incidents and left thousands of dollars in damage in its wake. Now, some businesses in Horry County fear the crimes are too much for local law enforcement to handle, according to WMBF-TV, Myrtle Beach.
RV'ing or 5th-wheeling in Mexico is a wonderful experience. With diesel and gas prices often below US prices, RV'ing in Mexico can be a bargain. But an RV or trailer trip to Mexico is not just about saving money. RV Mexico and you will get to meet the real Mexican people who are as friendly and warm as any in the world. Sure, you will see some spectacular sites, but the people are the greatest part of your trip. This page is a short introduction to driving your RV or trailer in Mexico.
RV camping in in Mexico is safe and driving on the toll roads is easy. Thousands of people drive RV's (motorhomes and trailers) to Mexico every year and it is a far more pleasant place to spend the winter than staring out at snow in the USA or Canada. There are enough RV parks in Mexico for both temporary and permanent RV parking. The Pacific coast and Baja have the most RV parks. The Gulf Coast has just enough RV parks. Yucatan RV parks are dwindling, due to high real estate prices, but you will get by. Boondocking can be safe, if you park at a Pemex (gas station). You cannot park in a Wal-Mart lot. You must have Mexican insurance for your RV. For Mexico insurance, click "Car, RV insurance" above.
You will find several different products relating to driving your RV in Mexico (maps, road logs, travelogues or roadlogs) with RV parks and specific RV routes on my shopping cart, as well as a description of my trip-planning services to help you get the most out of an RV driving trip to Mexico.
There is a new RV park near Aguascalientes Midnight Green Acres RV Park 3 KM NE of the small town of Villa Hidalgo, Jalisco (near Aguascalientes, AGS) - really nice folks run it.
Roca Azul RV Park in Jocotepec on Lake Chapala near Ajijic and Chapala is a very nice RV park with cabins. Longitude (dec): -103.424167 - Latitude (dec): 20.266667. Roca Azul has agua termal (hot springs water) in one of the pools.
The Hacienda Contreras RV Park in Valle de Juarez, Michoácan has closed.
The Hermosillo RV Park is closed.
Cd. Victoria is RV-less. Rosie's is gone. The Hotel Escondida is full with an Army garrison based there now. My road log through the area points you to a small, secure park run by a missionary group north of the city. My maps and road logs have recommendations for RV routes throughout the country.
The Mocambo in Veracruz does not accept RV's, but there is a great one in Anton Lizardo.
Drive The Mexican Toll Roads, But ...
Driving through Mexico by using the Mexican toll roads is your safest bet, BUT it will cost you (a fairly realistic average is one peso per kilometer). The rate you will be charged for driving an RV on a Mexican toll road will vary. At some, you are charged by the number of wheels on the ground, not by the number of axles as the signs at the Mexican toll booths suggest. At others, you pay according to axles. In general, your rate is 50% more than for a car. Generally, you will pay the third category down. Don't sweat it - it will cost what it costs and you can either pay the going rate or take the free roads. You might do that once. The toll roads are easier to drive, especially for motorhomes and towed units.
Driving Mexico is an adventure, but not as much as you think. Mexican toll roads are safe, fast and similar to first-class highways anywhere in the world. Driving your RV in Mexico doesn't require any more skills than driving your RV in the United States or Canada, other than using common sense.
Bring extra long extension cords to hook up to outlets in RV parks in Mexico.
Most Mexican RV parks have 110 volt plugs, but every once in awhile, you'll be shocked to find that innocent outlet is putting out 220. Have a disposable electric appliance to plug in first to check out the plug.
Voltage in Mexican RV parks fluctuates greatly. A surge protector is mandatory and a voltage regulator is a darn good idea. A reader sent me this:
Mike, I check the outlet before I plllug in anywhere in Mexico. I use the DT830B LCD Digital Voltmeter Ammeter Ohm Multimeter
Also, check out the "GE 50542 3-Wire Receptacle Tester." The receptacle tester doesn't measure voltage, but it does check for correct polarity and ground. If some amateur electrician has switched hot and neutral wires, you could wind up with your RV chassis energized, a dangerous situation not to mention potentially damaging to appliances and equipment. The voltmeter will tell you whether you have the right voltage. Some folks might not be too confident using the voltmeter, but on the other hand it can be very useful in diagnosing all kinds of electrical glitches in your RV. Both of these items seem like really cheap insurance. Creigh.
Mexican diesel fuel used to be a lot dirtier than US diesel fuel. Mexican diesel is much better now than it was ten years ago, and sometimes it is even the low sulfur diesel - but NOT the ULTRA LOW sulfur. That is an important distinction.
Please use the toll roads. Yes, they are expensive, but the damage to your vehicle on regular highways from topes, chuckholes and potential accidents is costlier.
Mike and Terri Church's book, Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping, is a darn good book. I have been recommending their book The Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping since it first came out and they keep improving it. It is well-researched and they are meticulous about updating it (although i think they are on a three-year schedule). Every time I give a seminar about traveling in Mexico, all I have to do is mention it and dozens of people will show their copies. That's the best form of advertising there is. They sell their book via Amazon, as do I, so you might as well buy it here. Either way, we both make a few bucks.