Extended travelling by car - 6 month trip to México
Replies: 28 - Last Post: Aug 19, 2012 7:58 AM Last Post By: Elenamex
Aug 15, 2012 10:15 PM
15Now that you have been hammered to take the bus, look here. to begin learning about them.
Aug 15, 2012 10:33 PM
16Driving in Mexico
I am not sure how being from Portugal disqualifies somebody from driving in Mexico. I was a first time Mexico driver the first time I drove there. I would assume that anybody looking to drive in Mexico for six months has a cash reserve. In my state you can register a car with a PO box #. My insurance gives me thirty days to call them on a new car. Nogales is two hours max (with shopping) from Tucson. Mexican insurance is acquired over the internet, print at home, liability only, very cheap.
Only JFontes can say if car insurance is a problem. Same as buying a car in the states. Can a Portuguese citizen buy a car in Tucson? I think yes. An internet search says that a foreigner can buy a car in Mexico or the USA.
So a little research says the debate is about travel by bus over cars.
As far as travel in Mexico, I prefer the van. I am not trying to live in Mexico. I want to travel and see things, meet people, la aventura!
If the bus traveler can find it, hiking and hitching the eight miles to Playa Aventura, Guerrero, from the bus stop on the highway, I'll have been there and onward.
See you there!
Aug 15, 2012 11:37 PM
17In the past, I have sometimes enjoyed good trips driving around Mexico in vehicles that I, or my traveling companions, owned. But, most non-Mexicans who have had favorable driving experiences of that kind are residents of either the USA or Canada. Driving can be worth while for such people, especially when we travel into Mexico sharing vehicles with family members or friends.
But, for first timers, solo travelers, and visitors from other regions of the world (in other words, people resembling the original poster) using public transportation makes much more sense. Its cheaper and easier for solo travelers to move around within Mexico on buses , vans, taxis, etc. About 99% of the places international visitors to Mexico go can be reached using public conveyances, and so can much of the rest of the country.
I like to hike and camp (trek) in remote mountain regions of Mexico. I find I can get pretty much wherever I want to go using public transportation. Even unpopulated locations can be accessed using taxi cabs based in towns.
Aug 16, 2012 4:03 AM
Aug 16, 2012 4:49 AM
Aug 16, 2012 9:00 AM
20I dunno Gortman, but registering a car in USA, at least in PA or NJ or NY or CA that I am familiar with, is an enormous hassle. I am glad that Rolly kicked in here as his blog is very sensible. And of those who live in MX like me, any bureaucratic interaction, we know well, is gonna take a coupla weeks and lots of wait time, lots of sitting in chairs before we find out we are in the wrong building to begin with.
I also would like to hear from OP - how is his Spanish? Do not assume that Portugues is Español - the countries hate each other and if you have ever tried to navigate Brasil on Mex Español you know - they do not understand each other. Or refuse to.
I am in the bus faction here, having travelled the country for 25 yrs. and living here for 8 years. I always meet people on ZAC - MEX busrides, ZAC-GUAD, ZAC-GTO, ZA -Jerez, its so cheap and nice to travel by bus here. And if you get the whim to go long distance, just take a plane.
Every other day I think I will buy a car here, but then I think - nah. Too hard to park, to insure, to trek my friends around - hey buses y taxis rule!
Aug 16, 2012 12:07 PM
21Driving in Mexico
This bus thing sounds very sensible. It may work well for a person with a backpack on a two week vacation with limited scope, say PV or Cancun. The bus is obvious. But the question posted is to avoid the tourists and mainstream places.
You guys who live there can go ahead and use the bus, I am sure it works very well. There is a big difference between living somewhere and vacation.
We are talking months of travel. Personally I want my fishing gear, my hiking boots, a good pack, a tent, some cooking gear, water filter, my inflatable kayak, my camera, my computer, a bicycle, some nice clothes for an evening out. Not to mention lots of pencils and toys. It is no fun lugging all that junk around on the bus. I have done that in Mexico and Costa Rica and Panama and I won't be doing it again! Not to mention the huge hassle involved with keeping it safe. Some of the most dangerous places I have been in are the bus depot areas.
Adventure travel. Vacation. I want my toys. To see the beaches and the mountains and the ruins and the out of the way places with the toys necessary to really enjoy the experience. I guess this is why there never seems to be anyone on the beach. Try Playa Agua Blanca in Oaxaca. Completely deserted, day after day. I am not sure how you would find this place from the bus. Not to mention a four mile walk from the bus stop on the highway.
Buying a car is a common, everyday thing. People do it all the time. As far as insurance, nothing is easier than buying Mexican insurance on the internet. As a foreigner, JFontes needs to do his research. Maybe his embassy can help. With a little lead time, it may not be an enormous hassle. Pretty subjective argument. To me the enormous hassle is waiting for a bus in the hot sun when I could be elsewhere enjoying myself.
See you there! (or maybe not, if you are waiting for the bus).
Aug 16, 2012 2:55 PM
Aug 16, 2012 3:44 PM
23Gortman--It's great that you personally enjoy making vehicle camping trips in Mexico. But, the OP did not indicate that he or she was planning to do that type of trip. I doubt that he plans to fly to the New World with an inflatable kayak, etc. in tow.
"It is no fun lugging all that junk around on the bus. I have done that in Mexico and Costa Rica and Panama and I won't be doing it again!"
Each person has his or her own traveling style. You're right that hauling large loads around on public transportation is cumbersome. Fortunately, some of us here on TT (and maybe the OP) can travel enjoyably, for weeks or months at a time, without bringing along our kitchen sinks with us.
The more I travel, the less I carry. These days I typically bring along just an 'airline carry on sized' backpack, comfortably carrying about 17 lbs/ 37 kilos. A person can travel indefinitely that way, if he or she chooses to do so. Or, if I'm going to spend some nights camping overnight, either in the mountains or at a beautiful, non-touristy beach like Faro de Bucerias, my light weight camping gear, etc, fits into a more conventional backpack that weighs slightly more. My point is not that everyone should travel as I do, but that going light is one of the viable options.
I've camped in some attractive locations in Mexico and Central America that do not have road access, places where neither vehicle campers nor bus and taxi bound travelers can stay. That doesn't mean though that my mode of travel is necessarily better than others; obviously there are a multitude of great places that can be reached in Mexico without doing any backpacking or trekking. And, there are many wonderful spots accessible using either buses or private cars.
Aug 16, 2012 7:04 PM
24I spend about 4 months every Winter in Mexico with one medium size bag plus a pack pack. I leave my PC at home bringing a Notebook (2.5 #s) with a small cd/dvd attachment.
I kayak lots not in some blow up with which you are susceptible to any breeze but rent them (hard Shell sit on top) at very reasonable rates.
I travel extensive around Mexico with enough clothing for 10 days as there are Laundy's Everywhere.
Aug 16, 2012 10:47 PM
25Europeans buy cars in the USA fairly often, and California is one of the favored states in which to do this. It's not hard. Some buy from dealers who'll take care of the registration and offer an address; others use a friend's address. It's not that this is without problems; it's more that the problems are minor for anyone who can Google the state DMV regulations and follow them. I've heard New Mexico is also easy, and anyone with any faint interest can Google up Texas or Arizona regulations.
Insurance can easily be purchased from Progressive, with another policy necessary for Mexico (can be done entirely on-line), and more insurance required in Costa Rica and one or two other countries (I forget which). Again, no big deal. It just takes money and a bit of time.
I've traveled Central America and Mexico by bus and with my own vehicle, several times apiece. I prefer bringing a vehicle. Others, posting at length above, might prefer riding buses. That's ok. The OP is presumably an adult, capable of making his/her own decisions.
What the OP won't be able to do easily is purchase, register and insure in Mexico, which was his question. I've never tried that, but it sounds difficult-to-impossible. He'll also find a shortage of hitchhikers and, if determined to get off the beaten track, possibly tourists to share expenses with. That doesn't mean he should give up on the car--it's just something to take into account.
Hope that's helpful.
Aug 18, 2012 7:50 PM
26To paraphrase Mark's comment, I think it would be difficult, if not impossible for a "tourist" to actually buy a car in Mexico. I have owned a condo near Puerto Vallarta since 2001 and I bought a car there in 2007. I love it, although it is a challenge to drive in the area since almost everyone totally ignores the rules of the road that many of us have learned to follow.
When I bought the car, it was quite a bureaucratic hassle to purchase it and then to register it and insure it. It continues to be that way, but for me, it's just part of owning property and living in Mexico. The difference between me and the OP is that I am a local property owner and the OP is not. BTW, when I bought the car, I didn't have an FM3 visa, which is now called an FMM. I bought a Nissan model that is made expressly for use in Mexico and the Carribean. I can easily get parts for it and I know mechanics that I can call upon in my little town whenever I need something done.
I spend more than half of the year in Mexico these days and I really enjoy having a car there, but I don't think it would be appropriate for any tourist to do it. Others have already given the OP a lot of really good advice.
Aug 19, 2012 6:43 AM
Aug 19, 2012 7:58 AM
28Thanks, Rolly. Of course, my most recently issued visa says No Inmigrante.
I want to stress that driving in Mexico is definitely not for the faint of heart, whether you're in big cities or in small towns. I learned to drive in Chicago, so it doesn't bother me. However, it is a little distressing to start driving down a narrow one-way street and to suddenly see a huge truck coming towards you. I know many "foreigners" who either live in Mexico full-time or spend long stretches of time there and almost all refuse to buy or rent a car.
Lots of great information on this thread. I hope the OP will return here and comment.
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