Mexico RV Driving Tips
RV Driving in Mexico
So, what's different about RV'ing or 5th-wheeling in Mexico? With diesel and gas prices often below US prices, RV'ing in Mexico can be a bargain. But a motorhome or trailer trip to Mexico is not just about saving money. Drive your RV to 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 has a few tips and tricks to have an enjoyable trip to Mexico with your trailer or RV.
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 Walmart lot. You must have Mexican insurance for your RV.
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.
When You Can't Find An RV Park
If it is just a question of being lost (hey, it happens to the best of us, he said abashedly), hire a taxi driver to lead you to the park. Negotiate the fee first, but when they have a "taximetro" or meter, you'll pay what price shows. But ask for an estimate.
If there is not a park where you are, you can almost always camp at a Pemex station, preferably a 24-hour one like a truck stop. Ask to talk to the manager and get his permission, reminding him you will fill your tanks there. Some now chage a few pesos, some don't. Whatever the case, it is worth it to get off the highway before nightfall.
You cannot park at Walmart or other shopping center parking lots.
You can park at a hotel with a big log. You may have to pay for a room (or part of one), but again, it is worth it to avoid driving at night.
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 but many now have a "Casa Rodante" class. 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. 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.
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.
The Shocking Truths About Electiciy ...
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. A reader suggested getting the voltmeter below. He uses it 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.
Some People Call This Their Bible
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.