Driving From The U.S. Through Mexico And Belize

“Kathleen, we are two 50-something sisters with two medium-sized dogs and we retired early, and drove across the border a year ago. We rent a few months at a time on Airbnb type sites and cross Mexico staying in great places, generally in their low season to save money.

“Regarding the recent mailbag question and answer on driving to Belize, I agree that traveling via motorcycle is taking your life into your hands in most countries, and I wouldn’t like to pass through cities without having closed windows and locked car doors around me. Though I do have to say we have crisscrossed Mexico multiple times, and we see far less vehicle accidents here than in a comparable trip length within the United States. Mexicans seem very good at following road rules and perhaps that is because the police must come to all accidents and all parties go to jail until the fault is sorted out.

“We drove from Texas to the Gulf Coast of Yucatán in our SUV in Dec. 2014 crossing at Nuevo Laredo. The blogosphere is full of good info on the exact route and where to stay. The toll roads in Mexico are considered safe and the advice is to only drive in daylight hours. Our trip took us five days since we stopped by 5 p.m. daily.

“We also then crossed Yucatán to the Belize border and back in that same month.

“In April 2015 we then drove from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific coast to Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca (three days) and from there to Sayulita, Nayarit in May 2015 (three days) and then back to Yucatán in Nov. 2015 (four days). The next trip will be to Manzanillo, Jalisco, in Feb. 2016.

“We haven’t encountered any issues on these travels, and we stick to the toll roads and daytime driving. We have only been pulled over at checkpoints possibly three times in all these travels. Our dogs start barking furiously when the police or Federales approach the car and they have always waived us on without actually checking the car due to this.

“We stay at motels the entire way. In Mexico motels are ‘love motels’ and are rented by the hour. The motels are mostly used by young people who live with their parents until they are married as well as for a few adulterous affairs. Because of this, privacy is key, and each room has its own garage and auto garage door. Since our SUV is loaded with all our possessions, this is a key feature for us. The motels are quite safe as they are all surrounded by walls with only one way in and the employees are walking around the property all night as they are cleaning the rooms at each turnover. The rooms are quite clean and nice and have room service (via a dumb waiter in the outside wall where the food and payment are passed so the people in the rooms are never seen). The cost runs from 250 to 500 pesos a night (about US$15 to US$30), and we do have to tell them we are staying all night as we are one of the few who do. Also most motels will accept dogs, whereas most hotels will not.

“So I would say, yes, make the drive but read the blogosphere, travel by car, check the State Department website, travel during the day, and stay in motels!”

–Shannon S., Mexico

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