Do cheap beers and tacos on the beach sound amazing? It did to us too. That’s why we decided to spend a few months this winter RVing in Mexico. We’ll share everything we learned in our research and preparation before crossing the border.
Since we travel full time and our RV is our home, we wanted to stay safe and follow all of the rules in place to protect us in Mexico. I was slightly overwhelmed by the paperwork required to take our RV into Mexico for a few months and I want to save you the headache of figuring it all out on your own.
Table of Contents
- Is RVing in Mexico safe?
- Required Paperwork for RVing in Mexico
- FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple)
- Do I need an FMM to visit Mexico?
- FMM Application details
- Why you shouldn’t do the online FMM application?
- Mexican liability insurance
- US .vs. Mexican auto insurance
- Does my US policy cover my car in Mexico?
- Vehicle Registration
- Financed vehicle requirements
- Pet requirements
- Illegal Items – What Can I Bring to Mexico & What to Leave Home
- FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple)
- RV restrictions in Mexico: Myths about Crossing the Border
- Should I take a caravan to Mexico?
- Caravan Alternative: Group Travel
- Full Time RVing in Mexico
- Mexico RV Destinations
- RVing to Rocky Point
- Driving an RV in Mexico
- Road Conditions
- Road Hazards
- Car Accident
- Car Breakdown
- Does Mexico have RV parks?
- How much does it cost to camp in Mexico?
- Camping in Mexico
- Satellite TV
- Cellular Service
- Conclusion : RVing in Mexico
Is RVing in Mexico safe?
Are you worried if RVing in Mexico is safe? It’s a common concern due to the media’s portrayal of murders, carjackings and other violent crimes. The Baja peninsula is one of the safest areas of Mexico and crime rates are lower than most American cities.
I know it might seem silly to ask if Mexico is safe but you’d be surprised how many friends and family members expressed concerns about our safety in Mexico. I find it odd how a single act of violence in Mexico on the world news concerns us but we’ve become numb to local news stories of carjacking, home invasions and mass shootings occurring around the corner.
We planned our route to only visit places that are considered safe to travel, Baja Norte and Sonora. At the time of our trip in early 2022, the US State Department advised avoiding the following states due to crime and kidnapping risks: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.
Property-related crimes are the most common occurrences with the majority being crimes of opportunity. A crime of opportunity occurs when criminals didn’t leave home planning to rob someone but they found an unattended bicycle or a drunk person with their purse open. The opportunity (a new bike or some extra pocket money) was too easy for them to pass up. The best way to prevent property-related crimes is to secure all of your belongings at all times.
- Secure all belongings especially purses and wallets in public places.
- Lock or stow all items to your RV when leaving your campsite.
- Don’t draw attention. Flashy expensive jewelry or wallets full of cash is a great way to attract unwanted attention.
- Many places do not accept credit or debit cards so you’ll need cash, preferably Mexican pesos.
- Separate your cash into different locations on your person. This way you can easily take a small amount out of one pocket when making a purchase without showing your entire wad of cash.
- Make a photocopy of your passport and drivers license. Keep the copies in a separate location from your actual IDs. I like to carry the photocopied IDs in my purse and leave my real ones locked in our RV safe.
- Know where you are going before you leave home. Solo travelers wandering aimlessly in dark alleys is a bad idea in any country.
- Mexicans are generally helpful and friendly but don’t blindly follow a stranger. Trust your instincts and be smart.
- Maintain your wits; don’t overconsume alcohol or other mind-altering substances.
For more safety tips in border towns check out Nuevo Progreso Border Crossing: How to spend a day across the border.
Required Paperwork for RVing in Mexico
I found the paperwork to be a bit daunting in preparation for our season of RVing in Mexico.
In the past, we’ve usually flown to new destinations. When arriving by air, the tourist visas are provided on the plane and arriving passengers are forced to the customs and border patrol agents before leaving the airport.
Non-nationals are required to obtain the following paperwork to legally RV in Mexico.
- FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple)
- Mexican liability insurance for all vehicles
- Registation for all vehicles from home country
- Notarized permission to drive in Mexico for financed vehicles with bank liens
- TIP if traveling beyond the FreeZone
- Valid Passport (at least 6 months remaining prior to expiration)
- Proof of current rabies vaccination for pets
Do I need an FMM or tourist card to visit Mexico?
An FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) is a Mexican tourist card or a visa. Everyone visiting Mexico should obtain an FMM especially if driving. Don’t forget to get your passport and FMM stamped at the INM (immigration) office when entering the country or the FMM is invalid.
This is especially important if you are driving in Mexico. An FMM is the only way of registering your visit with the immigration office. If you do not obtain an FMM, then you are technically in the country illegally. If you are involved in a car accident, your insurance will likely deny all claims since you were not in Mexico legally.
FMM application details:
FMMs are available for visits of seven days or less free of charge.
Each adult must obtain their own FMM.
180-day tourist FMMs are available for 638 pesos either online or at the Instituto Nacional de Migración (immigration) office located at the border. I strongly recommend obtaining your FMM tourist card in person on the day you enter Mexico.
Why you shouldn’t do the online FMM application for Mexico
We traveled into Mexico with a group of 100 RVs. They had a variety of problems with the FMM online application process.
Online applications might populate your FMM instantly but sometimes they take a few days to get emailed. The website says to allow up to 10 days for processing. I would recommend completing online applications only for the free FMM (visits seven days or less) before your trip to Mexico. If it doesn’t work, you can apply again at the border and you haven’t lost any money in the process.
If you apply online, you must print a hard copy of the FMM AND the payment receipt to present at the INM office when crossing. This policy is in place to prevent fraud and there are no exceptions.
Keep in mind the receipt must be the pdf offered after payment has been completed. It was the bottom right button on the payment screen when I completed my online application. Use Google translate to make sure you understand everything on each screen before proceeding. You will not be able to go back once you leave the screen.
A screenshot or bank statement showing payment will not suffice as proof of payment. If you do not have the correct receipt printed, you will be required to pay for another FMM at the border. We saw this happen to multiple friends when we crossed into Mexico. You can avoid all of this headache by buying your FMM in person at the border instead of online.
If you drive into Mexico, you are required to obtain Mexican liability insurance.
Border agents often request proof of Mexican insurance as part of the inspection process. As with most things, you can shop around and get a better price in advance. If you prefer, you can wait and buy Mexican liability insurance at the border or in the US border towns.
We found the best pricing for Mexican liability insurance on Class As from Oscar Padilla. A friend told us her 5th wheel was cheaper from Portugal Insurance. These are both brokers, so be sure your policy will be underwritten by A-rated Mexican insurance company.
Six-month policies cost about the same as a single week of coverage. Some companies offer three-month policies for slightly lower prices than six months.
The liability policies are pretty standard pricing. However, comprehensive coverage is based on the insured value of your RV and insurance premiums can be very expensive for highly valued motorhomes.
In our price shopping, we found a six-month liability-only policy on our motorhome for ~$140. For ~$250 we could get a six-month full comprehensive coverage. Both prices quoted were based on our motorhome being valued at $50k.
What the difference between US and Mexican auto insurance?
Automobile insurance coverage options are similar to US insurance with either liability or full comprehensive coverage offered.
One major difference is all of the policies I reviewed included coverage for legal fees and bail bonds. This is due to Mexican laws regarding automobile accidents. Drivers are assumed guilty and may be arrested when involved in an automobile accident.
Coverage levels vary by policy. Be sure to read the fine print, I found vehicle theft was not covered under the liability policies I reviewed online.
Does my US car insurance policy cover Mexico?
Maybe but not likely. US insurance companies do not automatically provide coverage for driving in Mexico.
Between everyone in our large travel group, we didn’t find anyone with full coverage on all of their vehicles throughout Mexico with their existing US auto insurance policy.
As a Texas resident, our policy provides full coverage on our tow car within 50 miles of the US border. Our friends from other states, do not even have this coverage. In addition, we were able to purchase an add-on for Mexico coverage on our RV.
I spoke with both our US broker and insurance company and they both told me our vehicles were covered in Mexico. Do not take anyone’s word on your coverage. Review your policy documents yourself.
Upon reading the fine print, I discovered the 50-mile border limit on the car unless it was being towed by our motorhome and a maximum benefit paid for repair costs in Mexico on the policy. These limitations on our US policy caused me to purchase comprehensive Mexican coverage for our trip. I hope I never have to use it but it gives me peace of mind knowing we have some coverage.
To bring any vehicle into Mexico, including an RV, you must have a valid vehicle registration from your home country.
The name on the registration should match your insurance and passport. Our border agent compared the VIN and license plate on the registration to our car.
If the vehicle is owned by a friend or family member, you should have a notarized letter of permission to drive their vehicle into Mexico. I recommend including full names of the driver and owner, year, make, model, license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN) in the letter.
If you have a bank lien on your vehicle then your registration will likely list the bank as an owner. If this is the case, you will need a notarized letter from the bank granting permission to drive the vehicle in Mexico. Producing a permission letter shouldn’t be a problem for your bank but allow several weeks for processing.
TIP is a temporary import permit for vehicles entering Mexico however a TIP is only necessary beyond the Free Zone. We stayed in Sonora and Baja Norte so we didn’t need a TIP. If you want to RV in Mexico beyond the Free Zone, a TIP is required.
The FreeZone covers most areas along and within 12 to 16 miles (20-26 km) of the northern and southern borders. Additionally, the entire Baja peninsula and most of Sonora are within the FreeZone in Mexico which means you don’t need a TIP.
Applications for a temporary vehicle import permit for Mexico can be completed online.
Pdf containing proof of ownership must be uploaded during the TIP application. Ownership can be proven with a title, vehicle registration, a lease contract or a current financing agreement. Additionally, valid passport and FMM issued by the INM are required for foreign citizens
Keep in mind TIPs must be completed separately for an RV and tow vehicle. Truck permits only cover cargo or utility trailers but not RVs being towed.
Temporary Import Permit (TIP) to register your vehicle in Mexico costs around $50 USD per vehicle.
Automobile TIP permits are valid for 180 days in Mexico.
RV TIP permits are valid for 10 years. TIP permits are assigned to the owner and are not transferable if you sell the RV.
Foreign citizens entering Mexico must have a valid passport issued by their home country. Passport expiration should be at least 6 months beyond the date of entry.
At the border, we gladly show our passports to customs and immigration officers but we do not let anyone else take possession of them.
I’ve heard too many horror stories of officials holding IDs until drivers pay a fine for a minor or non-existent traffic offense. Instead, we have a photocopy of our passport and driver’s license with us at all times. When we get pulled over, we will hand over our photocopied IDs instead of the real thing.
Domestic pets in good health are allowed into Mexico but some restrictions apply.
Only two cats or dogs are allowed per person. Import taxes are charged if traveling with more than 2 animals per person. As of 2022, health certificates are not required to bring pets to Mexico from the US or Canada. Proof of a current rabies vaccine is required but the paperwork is not always checked at the border.
Reptiles, even pets, may not be brought to Mexico. Birds are very difficult to bring into Mexico but importing them is not impossible.
Small pets like ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters are allowed in Mexico with health certificates from your veterinarian.
You are allowed to bring up to 50 pounds of pet food per vehicle into Mexico but it cannot contain any beef products.
Guns and recreational drugs are illegal in Mexico.
Do not attempt to cross the border with any guns, ammunition or drugs. If you do and get caught, you will go directly to a Mexican jail with no recourse.
We decided preparing for the border crossing was a great opportunity to clean out our freezer and refrigerator. So we arrived with no fresh meat or produce. Some of our travel partners arrived with a few veggies left; they were allowed in and told by the border agent in a stern voice to “not bring them next time”.
RV restrictions in Mexico: Myths about Crossing the Border with Trailer
You’ll find a lot of people who love RVing in Mexico but it’s not for everyone. And it’s especially not for every rig. Check out a few myths and the reality before attempting to cross the border into Mexico with a trailer, motorhome or other RV.
Some of the weight and size limits officially only apply to commercial vehicles but may be misinterpreted by customs agents. That means you might legally be allowed in Mexico but may be turned away at the border anyway. Honestly, unless you are fluent in Spanish I doubt you’ll be able to convince a customs agent they are wrong. I would try a different border or the same border the following day.
Myth: Trucks must be half-ton or lighter.
Reality: This is actually a GVWR vs cargo capacity issue. Vehicles with payload under 7,716 pounds (3.5 metric tons) are allowed but customs agents sometimes incorrectly refer to the GVWR. Some have found it easier to obtain their TIP online rather than attempting to obtain it at the border.
Myth: Motorhome weight does not matter.
Reality: Vehicles registered as motorhomes are allowed even if heavier than 3.5 metric tons. In short, motorhomes are not weight restricted.
Myth: Oversized or tall vehicles may not fit thru the border crossing.
Reality: True, there are height restrictions. The Mexican borders we have visited all have structures over the road at the crossing. And the entry back into the US has different height restrictions than the Mexican entry at the same border crossing location. Heights vary at each location so I’d recommend calling to verify current hours and height/size restrictions.
Myth: Heavy Duty trucks or semis are not allowed for recreational visits.
Reality: This is 100% true. We have two fellow Xscapers who tow their fifth-wheel travel trailer with an HDT semi-truck. Both of them have been refused entry to Mexico. Mexico considers heavy-duty trucks (semi-trucks) as commercial and entry will be denied. Commercial truckers are obviously allowed in Mexico with the correct paperwork. If you tow with a private non-commercial HDT or semi, I would make alternate plans for Mexico.
Myth: Mexican roads cannot accommodate big rigs.
Reality: It depends. But yes, roads in Mexico are generally more narrow than in the United States. And the Mexican roads get even more narrow the further you travel away from the US border.
Shoulders, where they exist, are pretty tiny and/or unusable. New or less confident drivers should definitely stick to toll roads or multi-lane highways as these are the roomiest option.
A friend told us that if we take our 37′ Class A, Pippi, down the Baja peninsula then we should expect to lose at least one side mirror to an oncoming truck. This was his best-case scenario for taking a big rig through Baja.
We’ve owned Pippi since 2013 and don’t want to willingly put her in harm’s way. Therefore we decided to stay in the areas closer to the border with highways similar to US road conditions.
Our friends’ Adventure Endeavor have owned several different-sized rigs and are more adventurous than us. They borrowed a small truck camper to explore Baja and left their big 5th wheel at home.
Should I take a caravan to Mexico?
Only you know your risk tolerance and experience levels. Caravans and organized group tours are great for those who are concerned about safety and road conditions in Mexico. These groups do the same trips year after year and only travel on decent roads in safe areas.
Caravans are also great for those who do not want to research and plan their own route. My parents love showing up for an organized trip and being able to experience it without worrying about logistics.
RVing in a caravan through Mexico can be expensive.
Fantasy Tours is one of the more expensive and luxurious options. They generally offer full hookup campgrounds, some meals and excursions.
Escapees offer a cheaper option with rolling rallies or shorter events focused on a single location. Location, amenities, and duration vary each year. Their Mexico events generally occur in January or February. Check out their upcoming events.
Additionally, Escapees and Xscapers events are a great way to meet like-minded people. We’ve met most of our RV friends through Xscapers.
If you are not already a member, consider joining using our link. It costs you nothing extra and we’ll get a small referral credit that helps fund our awesome free content.
RVing to Mexico Caravan Alternative: Group Travel
Instead of joining a paid caravan, we took a more cheap and cheerful approach. We are traveling with friends in a group of RVs through Mexico. There are many online forums and Facebook groups to connect travelers interested in traveling in caravans.
Traveling with a group allows us to feel more safe driving rural roads. It is less appealing to harass a group instead of a single rig. Plus, when something inevitably breaks on your rig the likelihood of having the right tool, expertise and parts increases exponentially with a group.
Secondly, we’ve saved money on campground fees. Since we’re bringing more business with us, we’ve used our negotiating power to get better rates at campgrounds.
Lastly, it’s more fun to experience new food and places with friends. Since we had enough interested friends with us, we were able to charter a whole sunset catamaran cruise in Puerto Penasco.
Full Time RVing in Mexico
Full-time RVing in Mexico is fairly common with people living in campgrounds long term. Many Canadians and Americans escape winter in the warm sunshine of Mexico. Snowbirds, or winter visitors, are a big economic boost for warm destinations. You’ll see events like Gringo Bingo and dinner specials aimed at attracting business from these temporary residents.
Can I drink the water in Mexico?
No, you should not drink tap water in Mexico. Plumbing and water storage systems are not built for drinkable water. Everyone drinks filtered water including locals. Filtered water is available throughout Mexico including in grocery and convenience stores.
If you are RVing in Mexico for more than a week, it might be worth it to prepare your RV so you can drink your tank water in Mexico. I strongly avoid plastic waste and hate the idea of buying bottled water. Since we visited for multiple months, we added the 0.2-micron Virus Hero filter from RVFilter Store to our filtration system.
The filter is not cheap so we shared it with several friends. Using a refillable water bladder, pump and our filter system, we created our own mobile water filling station. We all were able to drink tap water in Mexico without getting sick.
Additionally, we rely on our Acuva UV water treatment to further sanitize our drinking water after it has been filtered. The Acuva is mounted under our sink and treats both the water going to our refrigerator and a countertop drinking faucet. It kills any bacteria or viruses using UV light. Acuva often runs promotions and sales so we were able to buy our system for around $300.
Will I get sick if I eat or drink in Mexico?
The food and drinks in Mexico will probably not make you sick if you make wise decisions.
Honestly, you might get sick anywhere and Mexico has a reputation for making tourists sick. You can take a few common-sense precautions to decrease the likelihood of getting sick in Mexico.
In Mexico, we never drink tap water unless we know it has been treated.
We also avoid uncooked fruits and vegetables at restaurants without running water. Basically, we only eat cooked items at roadside taco stands or food trucks.
Do I need to wash my produce in Mexico?
We also treat all of our produce (fruits and vegetables) with a vegetable treatment like Micro-Dyn. It treats many types of nasty micro-organisms like e-Coli and salmonella.
I even treat items with peelings that you plan to discard like bananas because bacteria on the peel may come in contact with the fruit.
Micro-dyn and similar vegetable cleaning products are available in the produce section of most large Mexican grocery stores. We saw it a Bodega Aurrera and Sam’s Club for about $1 a bottle.
It’s super easy to use a vegetable wash. You just place your produce in a bowl, add enough untreated water to cover them and then add the corresponding amount of treatment.
Each vegetable treatment is made differently. Some are very concentrated and only require a few drops per liter of water. Some contain iodine and require rinsing, others do not require rinsing. Read the instructions carefully.
After years of travel, we have pretty strong stomachs. But we always travel with anti-diarrhea medication just in case.
For more on grocery shopping in Mexico, check out Grocery Shopping in Mexico: How to Shop like a Local and Avoid Gringo Mistakes.
Can I work in Mexico on a tourist visa?
Mexico tax and immigration laws, allow visitors to earn income from outside the country while visiting Mexico on an FMM, a 180-day tourist visa. This means full-time RVing is possible in Mexico with a remote job.
If living in Mexico for more than 180 days, you may be considered a Mexican resident for tax purposes and owe taxes on all income earned while in Mexico.
However, if your business requires inventory, such as an Etsy shop, you will likely have to pay import taxes on these goods. When they see large quantities of new goods, border agents assume you are planning to resale the items in Mexico. You may even be refused entry.
When traveling in Mexico, foreign citizens cannot earn income from Mexican sources on a tourist visa. Like most countries, work visas are required for jobs earning Mexican income.
Internet in Mexico
Keep in mind, internet and connectivity may cause challenges when RVing full time in Mexico. Since we are not stationary, we use cellular data to get the internet. Telcel is the primary cellular provider in Mexico and visitors can easily purchase SIM cards with data blocks. SIM cards are available at gas stations, grocery stores and convenience stores in addition to Telcel retail locations.
Don’t expect easy plug-and-play solutions for cellular data plans in Mexico. Unlimited data plans are less common.
Most of our travel companions purchased the Telcel plans with a 2-hour block (less than $1 for unlimited data) or a 5-gig block of data (~$10). Once the time or data is exhausted, you’ll need to recharge your account online. Our friends who have used Telcel in Mexico have found the recharge process to be unreliable with recurring payment failures and website outages.
Prepaid unlimited data plans in Mexico are great for those working remotely while RVing full time. You can buy a SIM card in a retail store, activate it at home and be online quickly. However, if you have the same experience as our friends, prepare for a little frustration and some Google translating before you have it working.
Walmart offers a store brand cellular, BAIT, in Mexico. Their monthly plans are affordable and available in all Walmart and Sams’s locations in Mexico. BAIT sells sim cards that provide 30 days of unlimited data, calling (including to US & Canada) and texts for ~$13 but the initial setup can be confusing.
Our US-based AT&T cellular plan provides roaming coverage in Mexico on the Telcel network. Other US cellular carriers with plans that include roaming agreements in Mexico are Verizon, Cricket, T-Mobile and Google-Fi. Not all data plans provide Mexico coverage, so check the fine print before using data abroad.
Mexico RV destinations
Common destinations for RV travel in Mexico include all areas of the FreeZone including Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point in Sonora, Ensenada, San Felipe, Guerro Negro, Loredo, Bahia Conception and more in Baja.
The Baja peninsula is one of the most popular locations to RV in Mexico. Being separated from mainland Mexico, it is perceived to be safer and easier to navigate. The southern part of Baja offers smaller towns with a more authentic Mexican vibe.
Taking an RV to Rocky Point
Taking an RV to Rocky Point or Puerto Penasco is a fairly easy introduction to RVing in Mexico. The road to Rocky Point from the Lukeville Arizona border is a wide paved highway designated as a hassle-free zone. This means there are no checkpoints or roadblocks along the corridor after crossing the border.
I would still recommend traveling with a group for safety to Rocky Point during daylight hours.
Rocky Point caters to Arizonans on vacation. It has many of the amenities of an American town and most businesses accept dollars or pesos.
Driving an RV in Mexico
I would not recommend learning to drive your RV in Mexico. RVing in Mexico is better for those already comfortable driving their rig. Road conditions can be more extreme than US highways but are completely manageable in the right rig.
Roads in Mexico can be wide paved highways similar to the US but they vary. More often we’ve noticed lanes are slightly more narrow and sized for passenger vehicles rather than big rigs.
While driving in Mexico, Google navigation has tried to send us down narrow, dirt paths but we’ve had Google try to send us on a heavily wooded 4×4 trail in Colorado. Be smart and have an alternate route ready because sometimes Google is wrong.
This is all to say, yes roads are narrow in Mexico.
Road hazards are real in Mexico.
In cities, we’ve seen street dogs walk into traffic. Livestock is often free-roaming in rural areas and will wander into roadways. Follow posted speed limits and remain alert.
While RVing in Mexico, we’ve seen potholes large enough to consume a whole tire but we found similar sized potholes in Indiana last summer.
Topes are essentially speedbumps in Mexico. They are often added by residents to slow traffic down in front of their houses. They can be rounded and mild or very angular and jolting. Many times they are not painted and blend into the rest of the road well. Watch vehicles in front of you for a warning of future bumps..
Night driving is highly discouraged by tourists RVing in Mexico. Firstly, it is difficult to navigate new locations in the dark without considering all of the road hazards in Mexico. Additionally, the risk of crime increases in the dark. Ensure you arrive at your campsite before dark.
Keep both eyes on the road at all times and drive during daylight hours to avoid hitting road hazards.
Insurance in Mexico
Before driving your RV in Mexico, be sure you understand the coverage. Our policy limits repairs in Mexico to $500 but they will transport our vehicle to the US for repairs if it is undrivable.
What to do if you have a Car Accident in Mexico
If you get in a car accident in Mexico, do not move your car from the roadway until the police arrive. Do not pay other drivers cash for damages, report all accidents to the police. Scammers sometimes cause small fender benders to get cash payments from drivers who don’t want to deal with the police.
Report any accidents to Mexican insurance immediately. Accident claims after the vehicle is back in the US will likely be rejected.
If arrested as the result of an automobile accident in Mexico, contact your Mexican insurance company. This is especially important if your policy includes bail and legal benefits.
What to do if you have a Car Breakdown in Mexico
We travel with spare parts for our RV but sometimes more extensive repairs are necessary. If you experience a car breakdown in Mexico, the Green Angels will likely be able to help.
The Green Angels, Angeles Verde, are government employees who travel Mexican highways assisting stranded motorists. They have a reputation for being very innovative and creative in solving problems. They do not charge for their labor but do charge for necessary parts.
I added the Green Angels in my phone contacts before visiting Mexico and you should too. The 24-hour toll-free number for the Green Angels is 01-800-987-8224. In case of emergency, you can also dial 078.
Police in Mexico
There are varying opinions about the ethics of police in Mexico. The same can be said in many other countries including the US. I know you’ve heard stories about police attempting to extort bribes during traffic stops.
Bribes are illegal in Mexico. Any attempted bribes should be reported to the appropriate agency.
That being said, when driving in Mexico foreign citizens should strive to be the best driver they’ve ever been. Always make complete and total stops at stop signs, never drive over the speed limit and pay attention to traffic signs. Don’t give a police officer any reason to stop you.
If you are pulled over and told by a police officer that you owe a fine, ask to pay at the police station. Be willing to follow them in your vehicle to the police station to pay your fine. Request a receipt for your payment. Sometimes they may dismiss the charges rather than deal with the hassle. Be prepared for the worst and hopefully you will only have positive experiences.
Fuel in Mexico
Fuel in Mexico is generally safe for American vehicles. Sketchy gas stations in rural areas should be treated with caution as storage tanks or fuel may be old.
Ultra-low sulfur diesel is available throughout Mexico. Newer motorhomes or trucks that require Diesel Exhaust Fluid to improve emissions will have a challenge finding DEF in Mexico. DEF is not available in Mexico so bring twice as much as you think you’ll need.
All fuel is priced by the liter. Most gas stations in Mexico have attendants to pump fuel and tips are expected.
Does Mexico have RV parks?
Yes, Mexico does have RV parks. They vary from resort-style parks with American price tags to dirt lots by the beach with no amenities.
How much does it cost to camp in Mexico?
It depends on where you go and what amenities you need.
Free beach camping does exist in Baja. Other beaches allow camping and charge a few dollars a night to park.
We’ve found an abundance of campgrounds in Mexico.
Some campgrounds offer dry camping options ranging from $10 to $20 a night. Full hookup sites start around $20 a night and we’ve seen them go as high as $60 a night. Weekly and monthly discounts are available at most campgrounds. Cash is primary and sometimes the only accepted form of payment at smaller campgrounds.
Camping in Mexico
Camping in Mexico is slightly different than camping in the US. Campgrounds exist but amenities are slightly different.
The tap water is Mexico is not safe to drink but filtered purified water is available at grocery stores and shops in every town. Instead of dealing with the hassle and trash of bottled water, we added the 0.2 micron Virus Hero filter to our existing canister system from the RV Filter Store. We also have an Acuva UV light treatment system that treats our drinking tap for bacteria. Since using this system, we have been treating and drinking Mexican tap water without any problems.
We have not experienced great water pressure in campgrounds and rely on our water pump to use our tank water instead of trying to use campground water pressure.
Satellite providers from the US, DirecTV and Dish, work in Mexico. You can even establish a local service if you are interested. In Puerto Penasco, we were able to watch Phoenix local news on our DirecTV. I’ve been told satellite TV service stops working further south than Matzalan but I have not confirmed this personally.
Electric hookups are available at campgrounds when RVing in Mexico.
We relied on our solar and lithium set up to dry camp without electrical connections. To read more about solar, check out RV Solar Installation: How we power our home with sunshine.
However, a surge protector is a must-have when plugging into campground power. We’ve heard horror stories of US campground electric surges frying entire electronic systems in RVs. Mexico’s electric power grid can be piecemealed together. Outages and surges are not uncommon.
Cellular service is available in most of Mexico.
Telcel has the nation’s largest cellular network and has roaming agreements in Mexico with most major US carriers. Our AT&T plan includes service in Mexico but not all plans offer coverage. Read the fine print of your plan before you leave home. Jump back to the Internet in Mexico section for more details on data plans.
Conclusion: RVing Mexico
RVing in Mexico can be very rewarding but it comes with some paperwork and headaches. However, spending the winter on a Mexican beach has been pretty magical and definitely worth it. We hope our preparation and research will save you time and energy when preparing to RV in Mexico.