Travelguide Mexico

We loved Mexico. The people are friendly and it is a cheap place to travel. But there is some things that we would have loved to know before arriving. So we have written down a few things that we found interesting and could be good to know.

Expenses in Mexico (86 days of travel)

We travelled in Mexico between the 8th of March and the 1st of June 2017. In total we spend 86 days travelling on our two motorcycles riding about 5,500 miles. All our expenses are included in the overview in this post. Every penny we have spend together or for personal use are included. We are aware that we might have forgotten to add few expenses during our travel – nobody is perfect. Our budget is 66 USD per day including everything. This means that we have to save up money for expensive activities, border crossing, new motorcycle tires and the sailboat from Panama to Colombia, which will cost us 2000 USD in total. In total we spend 4,275.94 USD in Mexico, which calculates into 49,72 per day. We use an app called TOSHL FINANCE (https://toshl.com), which we could customize to our travel expenses. We decided to buy TOSHL PRO for 19,99 USD (https://toshl.com/pricing/) which gives us access to an online account where all the pictures are from. We also looked at other apps for keeping track of our expenses during our travel fx TrabeePocket, but it did not meet our demands.   To save money we have tried to follow these basic rules 1. Camp in our tent as much as possible. Especially on Baja California it was possible to wild camp a lot. As we got to the mainland it got more difficult. On really long riding days and the last days in Mexico we had a lot of rain and decided to go for a cheap motel or auto hotel within a price range of 250-350 pesos per night for 2 persons. Find cheap hostels (online or stop and ask for the price). We usually get a private room (2 persons) with shared bathroom (about 200 pesos), because it is cheaper than having a private room with a bathroom. Some places you can negotiate the price, but don’t push it to far. 2. Stay with other people for free. This is possible by using www.adv-rider.com and www.couchsurfing.com. 3. Cook our own food. It is cheap to eat at the small food stands by the road by it is still cheaper if you cook your own meals. There is a few exceptions fx elotes and tamales. When you have the opportunity to cook fresh produce the cheapest place the go grocery shopping is at the local markets (Mercado) where you can by pretty much everything. Meat is more expensive, so but 100-125 grams per person per meal. You can also replace meat with eggs, which is cheaper. The local Mexican cheese is also a cheap opportunity. 4. Activities: pick the ones which are the most important for you. We try to explore areas by hiking, which doesn’t cost anything. Some places you have to hire a guide, when you go hiking. Explore the towns and cities by walking around, and don’t spend money on expensive tours fx segway tours. Mexico City is so big that we would recommend a tourist bus, but a ticket for the metro a only 5 pesos per trip. Categories for the expenses Overview of how we have spend the 4,275.94 USD in Mexico. During our first months of traveling our expenses have been allocated into 11 categories. All the categories have subcategories (called Tags), which makes it possible for us to get a more detailed overview of the expenses within the different categories. In the top each picture you have the total amount of expenses in the category, and underneath you have the amount of expenses allocated into the subcategories.               Keeping track of our expenses made it possible for us to see where we were spending too much money fx we spend way to much money on food in March. In April we cut our expenses for food and drinks in half . It is all about keeping track for your expenses so you don’t overspend and spend money on the things that are important to you.

Toll roads, driving and navigating in Mexico

In this post you can read more about driving, navigating and toll road here in Mexico. The post covers our own experience during our 3 mounts of traveling through Mexico. Here is an overview of the post: Toll roads Driving in Mexico Driving in Mexico City (c.d. Mexico) Filling up gas Navigation and timing 1. Toll roads Toll road can save you time when traveling through Mexico. Other times there will be a free road next to the toll road, which will take you to the same destination. The toll roads are in a better condition, is less curved, shorter in distance and have no speed bumps, compared to the free roads. The price going on the toll roads vary a lot, and you don’t know the price for the toll road until you are all ready on it. It is not possible to get of the toll road, when you are on it. After you have entered the toll road you will meet a sign telling you what to pay. The payment depends of the type of vehicle you are driving, motorcycles are cheapest. The price for a car is usually twice as much as a motorcycle. Useful translation Libre = free road Cuota = toll road, marked with D or d fx highway 40D (with few exceptions – it is Mexico)   Toll roads we have considered or have taken Highway 1D: from Tijuana it is possible to take highway 1D to make a shortcut to the west coast on the Baja Peninsula. You pay to get on the toll road. We don’t remember the price, but it was cheap and worth the money. When you get to the coast it is easy to get of the toll road, and drive on the smaller free road near the ocean side. Price: we think is was 2 USD per motorcycle.   Mazatlan to Durango, 40/40D: This is a pretty new toll road 40 D, which has been build to make the trip to Durango from Mazatlan much faster. The free road highway 40 has a lot of curves and is twisting its way along the mountainsides. It is a beautiful and fascinating ride on a motorcycle. The old highway 40 is known as “El Espinazo del Diablo”. We went for the old highway 40 because of the curves, and it took us a whole day of riding to get to Durango. If you decide to take toll road 40 D, this drive is only 140 miles, which takes between 2-4 hours depending on traffic. To make the toll road 40 D, they build a famous bridge, which is hanging 402 meters over Rio Baluarte. From the old highway 40 we stopped and had a great view of the bridge. Price 40D: unknown   North of San Luis Potosi: this toll road takes you north of the city San Luis Potosi, between highway 49 and 57 so you don’t have to go through into the city. We took the toll road, and we are convinced that it saved us a lot of time, and it was worth the money. Price: 29 pesos per motorcycle.   Toll road 75D: starts north of San Luis Potosi at highway 57 and continues east. Our GPS told showed that we could save 30 min (11 miles) by taking the toll road. We didn’t know the price, and decided to take to take the free road, highway 57 further north and drive east on highway 80 to get to our destination. We were also catching up time according to the GPS. We would not recommend paying for the toll road. Price: unknown.   Toll road 70D or the free road 70: toll road 70D stretches west and east of Cd. Valles. We hit 70/70D just west of Cd. Valles and had to drive west to Rayón where the toll road 70D ends. Our map showed that the free road 70 was more twisting, but still followed 70D. The GPS showed that there was only a small difference in miles and driving time. We decided to take 70 and was still able to keep an speed between 40-50 mph. 70 is a well maintained road, with only a few and minor potholes – you don’t even have to pay attention to them. We would not recommend paying for the toll road. Price 70D: unknown.   Toll road M40D: our GPS recalculated our route, and without noticing it we were on the toll road M40D from Jilotepec de Molina Enriquez driving west. We think it is possible to take a free road instead, we were just not prepared . Price 32 pesos per motorcycle.   Toll road 55D and A-7 (west of Mexico City): just north of Toluca we was driving on toll road 55D. It is possible to take the free road 55, which should not be a problem. Price for 55D: 19 pesos per motorcycle. We were on our way to Valle de Bravo, which is west of Toluca. To avoid taking toll road all the way, we had to take toll road A-7 to get of toll road A-7, to get to MEX 1 (free road) from Toluca to Valle de Bravo. We were only on A-7 for 2 minutes. Price A-7: 14 pesos per motorcycle. When we finally got to Valle de Bravo we decided to take the main road through town to get to Avandaro instead of taking the toll road around Valle de Bravo. It was on a Sunday and the town was packed with people, several streets was closed of because of the Sunday market. All in all the traffic was congested through town, and we only manage to go through because we were on motorcycles riding in the left lane almost all the way (all the locals motorcycles do the same, and the police didn’t seam to care). You would save a lot of time by taking the toll road around Valle de Bravo, park at the city limit

Border crossing (From the USA into Mexico)

Before even crossing the border from USA into Mexico I read about the rules online. There are the rules for the border crossing into Mexico, when you have to travel all of Mexico. If you only have to travel in the Northern territory, different rules are applied. Buy insurance for the vehicles online before leaving the USA. The insurance have to cover the full territory of Mexico. If you are staying more than 30-40 days in Mexico the price for the insurance is the same for 30 or 180 days (6 months). Get a 180 days tourist visa at the immigration office, which usually is located next to or in the same building as the Banjercito. Buy a temporary vehicle import permit (TVIP), which include a deposit between 200-400 USD per vehicle depending on the age of the vehicle. A Banjercito is a army bank owned by the government. It handles all the fees, that applies when coming into Mexico. It is not possible to withdrawal money at the Banjercito, if you need money go to a regular bank/ATM. On Google maps I looked up Banjercito and found two different Banjercito’s just after the Tijuana border crossing. We decided to take the one to the east of the biggest Tijuana border crossing. The Banjercito is usually closed in the weekend, so if you want a temporary vehicle import permit (TVIP), you have to go across the border on a weekday or find a Banjercito in a different town and go there on a week day. We recommend that you go across the border on a weekday and get everything fixed the same day at the local Banjercito. Insurance We visited Sondra in San Diego, who helped us with buying an insurance for both motorcycles online at www.bajabound.com, which was 287,38 US dollars for 6 mouths for both motorcycles. She also printed out one copy of each insurance (one for me and one for Esben). We each carry the insurance paper with passport, TVIP and the tourist visa. Tourist visa It was really easy to go across the border, we didn’t even have to stop and show our passports. 5 minutes later we found a Banjercito according to the coordinates from Google maps, without the coordinates it would have been almost impossible to find, since there were no signs giving directions towards the Banjercito. Bring your passport with you to the immigration office. At the immigration office there has an elderly military employee – he could only speak Spanish. I almost lost my courage… left the office to get my cellphone which could translate from English to Spanish. I went back inside and I filled out the immigration papers. Had to go back to the Banjercito to pay the immigration fee and then back to the immigration office, where the elderly military employee approved and stamped the 180 days tourist visa to Mexico. I paid 50,80 USD for two 180 days tourist visas (one for me and one for Esben). Esben and I had to sign the tourist visa separately. Temporary vehicle import permit (TVIP) Bring your passport with the tourist visa and title for the motorcycle. Back at the Banjercito I got the TVIP, which was pretty easy. We had to pay 400 USD in deposit for each motorcycle, because they are only a few years old. I total we paid 463,92 per motorcycle for the TVIP. It is really important that you check that the VIP number on the TVIP is exactly the same as the one on your title. It is your  own responsibility that all the information is correct. The TVIP is a big sticker, but don’t out it on your motorcycle. Keep the sticker with your passport and the insurance papers. If you put it on your motorcycle there is a risk of it being stolen. When all this was going on, Esben is keeping an eye on our motorcycles and all our gear, this was not necessary at this Banjercito because there were armed guards. Esben and I had to sign the TVIP separately. Overview of the payment, for two persons and two motorcycles: Insurance for both motorcycles = 287,38 USD 180 days tourist visa for two persons = 50,80 USD TVIP for both motorcycles 2*463,92 = 927,84 USD Total 1266,02 USD* Including refund of 800 USD when exporting the motorcycles 1266,02-800 = 466,02 USD in total. *We paid all the expenses at the Banjercito with a credit card, it is also possible to pay in cash. Before we leave Mexico, we have to find a Banjercito and export our motorcycles, which should give us 800 US dollars back. The money will be refunded to the credit card, that was used when importing the motorcycles. If you pay in cash, you will get the deposit bag in cash, which is not convenient when you are about the leave the country. After 1½ hour everything was in order an we could continue south on the Baja Peninsula. We were very lucky, because there was no other people at the Banjercito and immigration, so we didn’t have to spend time standing in line. You can easily spend much more time if you have to stand in line several times. So plan when you have to go across the border.

Baja Ferries (La Paz to Mazatlán)

It was a challenge for us to get everything in order for the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán. It is not like in Denmark. This post will take you step by step from booking the tickets to arrival in Mazatlán. We hope than this will help you when you have to take the ferry. The easiest thing was to decide when we would take the ferry. It departs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I picked Saturday the 8 of April 2017, departure from La Paz at 8.00 pm (20:00) and arriving next morning at 11:00 am in Mazatlán. 1. Booking the tickets I could not get the website of Baja Ferries to work, and maybe it is because my Spanish is really bad. To fix this problem I asked Google. I found a website called www.directferries.com. Through their website I booked and paid for our tickets. You have to book and pay per vehicle, which meant that I first made a reservation for me and my motorcycle and after that I had to make separate one for Esben and his motorcycle. It is really important that all the information is correct, especially the license pate. It is possible to book a cabin on the ferry for additional 350-400 pesos per person, which we didn’t. 48 hours later I received a confirmation from Direct Ferries by e-mail. In the confirmation email was a reference number for Direct Ferries and a reference number for the Baja Ferries. I made a print out of both. You only need the reference number for the Baja Ferries. When you and your vehicle is out of country (not Mexican), you have to be at the ferry 180 minutes (3 hours) before departure. “About Direct Ferries: Direct Ferries is a multi-platform impartial ferry ticketing service offering a quick and easy way to look, compare and book 1000’s of scheduled ferry crossings to virtually any ferry port in Europe with services also available throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America. Founded in 1999, Direct Ferries offers the most comprehensive portfolio in the ferry transportation sector and a range of ancillary products from carefully selected partners including accommodation, train tickets and vehicle breakdown cover. A global company with offices across the World, Direct Ferries is present in numerous markets with a product localized for ferry travelers in the US, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.” 2. Get to the ferry 3 hours before departure, have your TVIP with you. We where at the ferry terminal 3½ hours before departure. We went through the gate and there was two Police check points, one to the left and one to the right. A nice policeman told us, that if we were going to Mazatlán, we had to go through the check point to the right. We drove to the check point, where a policeman checked that the VIN number on the motorcycle matched the VIN number on the Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TVIP). If you haven’t already purchased a TVIP, you have to buy one at a Banjercito in La Paz. The Banjercito’s are usually closed on weekends. You have to have a TVIP by law, when you got to the mainland of Mexico. Our booking and reservation for the tickets had written on them, that we had to be at the ferry terminal 3 hours before departure. We recommend that you get there 2-3 hours before, which should give you enough time.  3. Getting the tickets, remember reference number, passport and license pate number of your vehicle After you have passed the Police check point, you will find a small booth, which has Baja Ferries written on it. Park the motorcycle and get in line. Show the lady in the booth you Baja Ferry reference number, passport and the number of your license pate. The nice lady will make your ticket and give you a designated seat on the ferry. Keep the ticket where it is easy for you to show it to the ferry staff. There are two ferries the Baja Star and the California Star, remember which one you have to catch. The nice lady barley spoke English, so we had to use the translator on our cellphone. 4. Weigh in for the motorcycles There was a big line of trucks going on a scale, after asking around a did find a staff member, who spoke English. She told me that they had to weight the motorcycles. The scale was not accrued at all, and they wrote down the same weight for both my and Esben’s motorcycle including the rider. We know that Esben’s motorcycle including the rider is probably 70-80 kilos heavier than my motorcycle including me. We don’t think it mattered, we both had to pay 88 pesos in some kind of harbor administration fee. 5. Find the line up lanes for the ferry After the weight in of the motorcycles, we had to find the line up lanes to get onboard on the ferry. There was no signs at all, that could lead us in the right direction. We had to catch the Baja Star ferry and after asking around three times, we found out that we had to make a 180 degree turn and park in the middle lane to the left of the ferry terminal for walking passengers.   Now the only thing we could do was to wait. It was warm – so keep plenty of water with you, because you don’t know for how long you have to wait in the sun. It turned out that trucks and cars had to go onboard before the motorcycles, so we spend 45-60 minutes just waiting until it were our turn to drive onboard the ferry. Finally after the staff member had checked the ticket and the license pate, we were allow the drive on board, still an hour before