An Internet map will get you there, it's just that you'll miss a lot and may take a road that a computer thinks is better. I am not a computer. I am a driver, just like you.
Every day, someone thanks me for my maps and roadlogs. Here are just a couple of real-life stories about people who used Internet maps of Mexico versus my custom maps of Mexico and Mexican highways.
Story 1 and 2: 2 women who were driving to Guanajuato
Story 3: a family that took a white-knuckled driving trip over the mountains.
Story 4: a couple drove their older Mercedes from Laredo to San Miguel de Allende.
Story 5: a man took my advice to drive and have a trip he dreamed of, when he was discouraged by friends and family. "Floating on Cloud 9" he wrote later.
Goggle, MapQuest, Bing, Tom Tom and other Internet map sites do a remarkable job, considering they’re not human and have never been to Mexico. If I’d never driven in Mexico, I’d probably put my faith in a pretty map for my driving to Mexico trip too. After all, isn’t a driving map just a series of lines on paper? Isn't driving in Mexico just like driving in the USA, with street signs everywhere? So directions like, "Turn right onto Calle Hidalgo" or "Hwy 100" will get me there, right? Drive times can be computed with an average highway speed of 62.5 miles per hour, right? And, those maps are free! Why pay for something when you can get it for free?
I’m like you – I only spend money if a product will:
My maps and road logs with do all four and
5. save you from taking the long, arduous way around.
I just wanted to make sure we stayed off the dangerous mountain areas with the children. It was horrible driving here, "white-knuckled". We got an Internet routing that took us from Laredo to Cd. Victoria to San Luis Potosi and then over to Guadalajara and then down to Manzanillo. It was a long way. We wish we'd contacted you first.
The route you took down did not have to be so bad. There are two bypasses of Cd. Victoria. One would have saved you the ‘white-knuckled’ part and actually have put you past a little-known spa and temazcal with a nice hotel and nice people. Next time, please ask me. I am sure you would have considered my fee a bargain in retrospect.
It is rare that I get two people asking about driving from Brownsville, TX to Guanajuato, GTO., Mexico in the same day. That they were both women, (one traveling with her children and the other with her sister) made it doubly interesting. One bought my services and one did not. Here are the email exchanges.
Sounds like a good deal. We were looking at driving straight through - although I have a contact in San Luis Potosi that could find us a place to stay for the night. We have a car top carrier full of our stuff - I am moving there for a year and her and the boys will be there a month. We were trying to avoid the need to completely unpack and repack. But we are open. This whole thing is coming together because of our willingness to be flexible.
These would the questions I have/thoughts to be considered:
How long is it most likely going to take to get from Brownsville to Guanajuato? I understand different routes = different times ... so a range is good.
And what is your thought on the carrier and overnight travel. I am totally down for slowing down and enjoying the beauty that we both know Mexico has. I think we just might need a more specific idea of what is available along the way or even better destinations to possibly shoot for. (young ones require a little more forethought than we would need if the two of us were flying solo)
I think your maps and comparison of routes as well as your honest advice on the trips would be totally helpful! Let me know how to pay you please and I look forward to hearing from you.
I so appreciate your help and I feel better knowing that this info is coming. I sent payment this morning - I look forward to your maps and advice on the actual crossing process. She (my traveling companion has passed through Brownsville before without trouble and did the drive to Guanajuato, but that was a year and 1/2 ago and I’m sure things look and feel very different now). I would prefer to know exactly what to expect and be aware of so that we can keep the experience as relaxed as possible. We were planning on going pretty early - like between 6 and 7 am on Monday morning. Is that logical?
Already paid it this morning! You rock. Can't wait to check it all out.
Everything looks great! We are leaving Brownsville at 6’ish tomorrow morning and we have reservations at Spa Florida.
[This is a little-known holistic retreat (Spa Florida) south of Cd. Victoria on the way to San Luis Potosi. It is about $50, has a real temazcal and great massages. I encouraged these women to stop here rather than try to do the entire trip in one day. Try getting THAT from those other sites!]
I think we have everything we need at the moment but could I get your number just in case we need directions or whatever? If that is too invasive I understand but I would just feel good knowing we could call if needed. Thank you so much for everything we are really excited about Spa Florida! – Katie
Mexico Mike wrote:
Got the payment! Thanks. Just wanted to say if you need anything else, Please let me know. And sure, you can have my phone number. It is -----. Mike.
Well I was trying to find out mileage, MapQuest doesn't do it, but I found it on Bing.com. It also showed that leaving from Hill Country area (around Austin, San Antonio) the fastest is to go through Laredo. So I found my answer. Alida. (Her route was was 85 miles shorter but took longer and cost her $50 in tolls. Plus it was boring).
I responded (yeah, sometimes I give it away for free, but I can't stand to see someone suffer from bad advice):
Allida, even though you don’t want to hire me, I will give you some advice. Trust me, in Mexico, shorter is not always better or faster. You cannot compare driving in Mexico with driving in the USA. You also cannot look at a map and decide which route is better without knowing the roads and the mountains. There are several routes available to you and each has pluses and minuses. You do not NEED to go to Laredo. You cannot average driving time by distance so the online maps are useless. Also PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT.
Laredo is not necessarily the fastest route by any means, although it is the most expensive. (tolls for that route were about $45 each way and unnecessary). Why Bing routes you around Monterrey and through Saltillo, I have no idea. It is crazy. At least it puts you on the bypass of Monterrey and not through town.
If you decide to stay in Monterrey as you said, remember that getting through Monterrey will take about an hour or more and it is big city traffic. Driving through Monterrey is like driving though Chicago. It is not as bad as driving through Paris. But I try not to do it.
After you make the trip, you will understand what I said.
Please forget that idea of driving straight through. It may not be suicide, but it is not very smart.
Then you have three choices of how you are going to cross the mountains. One is terrible. But it is probably the one recommended by your Internet map because it is shorter.
Which one of those ladies seems like she will have a better trip? Which one will arrive refreshed? Which one would you like to emulate?
I responded after these people told me the route they intended to take back from Manzanillo.
That info on your route home (it took them from Manzanillo to Guadalajara to Zacatecas to Saltillo to Monterrey to Laredo) that you got from people there is partially correct – some is toll and some is not. That is one way to get where you want to go, but not the best. It is not the route I would have chosen. Again, it depends on where you want to go. And if you want to see anything beautiful, it is the worst route. Also it DOES NOT avoid mountains. The bottom part does, but the top part does not.
I think the worst info I ever got from locals was that, in order to get from Zihuatanejo to Guadalajara, they told me to take the toll road to Morelia and then the toll road west of there. The shorter route was to go up the coast to Tecoman Junction and then up. The difference was about 6 hours of driving. I went my way and was very happy.
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You deserve more than phone snaps.
Mexico's full of once-in-a-lifetime photos. Don't miss them because you don't have the right equipment.