Planning a car trip

Old Nov 30th, 2015, 11:38 AM
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Planning a car trip

I have been to Mexico, but only resort areas and by plane. Three of us (all older adults) are planning a car trip this February from Midwest USA to Mazatlan area. Is it better to cross into Mexico from Arizona and drive via the coast, or cross in Laredo and drive across the interior. Obviously, safety is our biggest concern.

Thanks for any help or suggestions you can offer.
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Old Nov 30th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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Disclaimer: I've only driven a portion of your potential route, but I can (I hope) give some insight, as a full time resident/driver.
The Laredo crossing and the subsequent route to Maz is a major commercial route. As such, it's as safe a route as you can drive. That said, I'll offer some thoughts, as a fellow Midwesterner (me, Omaha, you KC?).
1. Don't know the AZ route at all, thus my input applies primarily to the Laredo crossing. Which will be shorter anyway.
2. For all of my driving in Mexico, driving in Texas scares me more than anything I've experienced in Mexico, specifically I-35 in and around Dallas/Ft.Worth and on south. The traffic is horrible and the drivers even worse. A good option is the SH 130 toll road that bypasses Austin and exits south of San Antonio and avoids all that mess, plus you can drive 85 mph. You can buy the toll pass @ TXtag.org or just drive on through and let the cameras take a picture of your plate and they'll send you a bill later. It does cost a bit more that way, however.
3. If you do choose the TX route, be aware that hotels between San Antonio and Laredo are stupid expensive because of the oil drilling. Better than to lodge in Laredo.
4. Get several thousand pesos before crossing. Tolls, gas, etc, are all paid in cash with pesos. Some PEMEX's do take plastic, but I prefer cash.
5. Hotels are for all intents non-existent along the highways, so you'll have to venture into the city for that so budget your driving time accordingly. Many/most are gated and secure.
6. The police can be naughty, drive the speed limits and if pulled over only speak English even if you know some Spanish. Don't show them any money nor give them your license.
7. Stick to the toll roads wherever possible. Only drive at night.
8. Signage can often be confusing, so be prepared for a wrong turn or 4.
Sounds like a fun trip.
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Old Dec 1st, 2015, 01:40 PM
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NO, NEVER drive at night !!
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Old Dec 1st, 2015, 03:12 PM
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Thanks Bedar!!! Major brain fart!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 08:23 AM
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Glad to see I am not the only one with Senior moments Baldone! LOL
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 07:05 PM
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Yeah, sucks to get old!! I'm surprised they published "fart"!
Miss your posts on that 'other forum'.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2015, 09:23 AM
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Thanks for the tips Baldone. Can you recommend any towns to stop overnight in? I think there is a booklet folks recommend you purchase to help navigate the road signs in Mexico. I'll have to check that out.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2015, 09:28 AM
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Also, we are just south of St. Louis, MO.
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Old Dec 4th, 2015, 05:17 PM
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The thing with the signage is that there isn't much consistency or advance notice as to exits like on US highways. There's no "East St. Louis 1 Mile, 1/2 Mile", etc. Exits come abruptly, and inevitably you're in the far left lane when you need to go right! And GPS is mostly accurate, but make sure your maps are up to date.
If you do take the Laredo route, your best options for lodging would be Saltillo, Torreon, and Durango. Saltillo is fairly industrial, a popular hotel is the American Business Inn, now Four Points Sheraton. If you're inclined to make the drive more touristy, a stop in Parras de La Fuente would be a good option. It's the home of the oldest winery in the Americas, Casa Madero. Worth a visit; Google it. Torreon is more industrial & modern than Durango, the next and more historical city just down the road.
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