Oct 162012
Having a car is helpful for getting to off-the-beaten path destinations

By Theresa Russell

Having a car is helpful for getting to off-the-beaten path destinations

We have driven in Mexico several times and found it easy and very convenient for exploring some of the attractions outside of the main cities. While bus service is very good in Mexico, we couldn’t use it to get to some of the areas that we wanted to explore. Here are a few recommendations for driving a rental vehicle in Mexico:

-Find good maps and assume that there will be errors on them. We bought several different maps before heading to Mexico and noted that there was always a nonexistent road shown or an existing road that wasn’t shown. Be flexible.

-Check with your insurance company and credit card company to see what they will cover. Usually Mexican Liability Insurance is not covered and many rental car companies will not rent you a car until your show proof of that coverage.

-Avoid driving at night. There are multiple hazards on the road including wandering livestock, debris and pedestrians. The roads are narrow without shoulders and aren’t well-lit making it easy to miss hazards. Some Mexican drivers believe that driving without their lights on saves their batteries, so watch out.

-Pay attention to topes. They come in a variety of flavors – sometimes they are simply a rope stretched across the way, other times they are raised pavement and occasionally they are a ditch completely across the road. You usually find them as you approach small villages, but they can be on the main highways as well.

-We found that the stop sign was often just a suggestion and the same for a red light.

-Don’t take a left turn signal literally. It can mean that it is okay to pass or that the person is really making a left hand turn, that they are going to pass or they simply forgot to turn off their signal. When in doubt, stay behind the car with the turn signal. In some instances, to make a left-hand turn, you need to pull over to the right and then go straight across onto the road that was the crossroad.

-Pemex is the national oil company of Mexico. Be sure that you watch to be sure that the pump is set to 0.00 and keep an eye on it while filling up. Don’t be distracted by the gas man. Some of the Pemex stations only accept cash. Be sure that you get the correct change. If you are in remote areas, be sure to fill up when you see a station.

-The Mordida(literally “bite”, but better known as a bribe) still happens. If you get stopped ask for identification from the police. You will have to pay the ticket at the police station. Remember that if you are in an accident that Mexico follows Napoleonic Code meaning that you are guilty until proven innocent.

-The Green Angels patrol the highways and help motorists with their breakdowns.

-Pay attention to the road signs. Many follow international code, but there are some with typical messages that we find quite interesting. In fact, we have been so intrigued by the road signs that we took some photos and made a video for your viewing pleasure.

Have fun!

Theresa Russell

About Theresa Russell

Claiming her lust for travel began on her first journey through the birth canal, Theresa is genetically programmed to travel and to have fun doing it. She especially enjoys adventure and experiential travel and always finds something at a destination to write home about.

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