Your Travel Security List for a Road Trip to Mexico
During the holiday season, many Americans go to Mexico on vacation or to visit family and friends. If you plan to drive this trip, you need to start planning now. Driving in Mexico requires a few extra steps and safety precautions. So, before you go, know how to get ready. What are some of the ways you can prepare for a safer, more secure trip this winter?
In most cases, driving in Mexico involves no more danger than driving on your local street. Yet, you will visit an unfamiliar place with driving customs that might not look familiar. Keep the following steps in mind before hitting the road.
Step One: Get Mexican Car Insurance
Most U.S. states have laws that require their registered drivers to carry auto insurance. Mexico is just the same. The law requires most tourists to have coverage before they even enter the country.
Here’s the catch, though. American car insurance usually will become void when you enter Mexico. That is because insurance laws differ between the two nations. Even so, you’ll still have to get a Mexican auto insurance policy in order to cross the border. We recommend that most drivers get covered well ahead of their trip.
When getting coverage, you’ll likely see a lot of familiar protection like:
- Liability insurance to cover the damage you might cause others in an at-fault accident.
- Physical damage coverage that will pay for damage to your own vehicle. Most policies cover wreck damage alongside damage for theft, fire and similar occurrences.
- Medical payments insurance to help cover your losses if you get hurt in a wreck.
You might also see a few unique elements of protection, such as:
- Legal assistance coverage that might help you get a lawyer or bond in case the police detain you. Arrest while determining fault sometimes happens in Mexico.
- Travel options to help you obtain plane tickets or rental cars to return to the U.S.
- U.S. Repair coverage that allows you to have vehicle repairs made once you return to the states.
The good news is, once covered, you can usually make your policy active only for the duration of your stay in Mexico. Yet, sometimes, you can keep your policy active longer, just in case you plan to make many trips across the border.
Step Two: Get Appropriate Travel Documents
You don’t just need a passport to travel on a plane. You need one any time you cross into a foreign country. Make sure you have the following documentation with you when you arrive at the border.
- A valid U.S. passport. In some cases, the U.S. passport card will suffice (though restrictions apply). However, the official blue passport book will allow you into Mexico in almost all cases.
- Your driver’s license. Mexico will recognize your U.S. documents as proof of your ability to drive. Remember, a passport alone is not a license.
- Proof of your Mexican auto insurance. Keep your policy cards with you at all times.
- A vehicle import permit. If you plan to travel in certain parts of Mexico, you must get an import permit to apply to your vehicle. Some areas (often near the border) operate as free zones that do not require these permits. However, as a rule of thumb, the further you go into Mexico’s interior, the more likely you are to need a permit.
If you simply plan to travel as a tourist, you do not need a Mexican visa. However, business people, those going to Mexico to study and other parties might need special permits. The duration of your stay might also require you to obtain a visa. Contact the U.S. State Department or the Mexican Embassy in the U.S. to determine your requirements.
Step Three: Get Your Vehicle Ready
Driving in Mexico means entering a potentially-unfamiliar area. You might encounter different driving customs, unfamiliar road rules and potential hazards. Ensure your car can weather all these new situations.
- Make sure the car receives a full check-up before your travels. Oil changes, tire rotations and engine flushes often cut the risks of problems during travel.
- Ensure the vehicle’s security system works. Do not leave valuables on full display when leaving the car unattended. Always lock your doors.
- Keep an emergency kit in the car. A jack, spare tire, flashlights and even a small supply of food might all help. Don’t forget to keep your cellphone charged and ready. Remember, you might need an international calling card to use your phone.
- As always, obey the rules of the road wherever you go. Give other drivers ample space and take your time. Keep in mind, you might need to observe extra caution in certain areas. You often should not drive at night, particularly in rural communities.
- Always keep an eye out for pedestrian traffic, and never stop on the side of the road for anyone.
With preparation, your trip to Mexico this winter can prove enjoyable and uneventful for all.