How to get lost in Baja, or…
…who packed the pesos?
As I prepare for my third trip to Baja, I realize that some of the planning and details that seemed so complicated the first time, are not really causing me any stress at all this time. My previous travels outside the country included only Canada. My first trip to Mexico was much more involved than any trip to Canada! But now, border crossing and having all the documents for the truck, motorcycles, and people is a piece of cake. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to do for a trip like this, though. So let’s break it down.
Yes, having all the documents in order makes for easy inspection and helps you get through quickly, but here is a list of other important documents you will need.
- Current registration and proof of Mexican insurance
- Copies of the vehicle titles
Current registration and Mexican insurance is needed for the truck and each bike. You need a passport to get back into the U.S. They will let you into Baja without it, but try explaining yourself coming back! Only bring copies of the vehicle titles with you, not the originals. Otherwise, they may think you plan to sell the vehicle in Mexico.
Since we are not going to mainland Mexico, we get to skip getting tourist visas and temporary vehicle importation documents. Yes, Mexican insurance is real, not a joke. While your U.S. policy covers you in Canada, it is no good in Mexico. Fear not; offices at the border, or online at sites like www.BajaBound.com, will sell you a policy for one day or one year. And it’s very low cost. This simple step is much cheaper than getting caught without it.
Once you get over the border, you will need money. American dollars will be accepted just about anywhere in Mexico. The exchange rate is about 13 pesos to one dollar, and the guy selling you tacos is just going to use 10/1 math. It’s pretty much standard procedure, so if you don’t bother to carry pesos, it’s your own fault.
Fortunately, modern banking makes it easy. Walk up to an ATM, stick in your card, and you can withdraw pesos from your American bank account and get the best exchange rate. You can also use your debit/credit card for purchases, however, you will only be able to use your credit card or find an ATM in a town big enough to have credit card machines and ATMs.
While in Baja, we tend to take enough pesos for several days when we have the opportunity. We also prefer to use Visa Travel Money Cards, which are the modern equivalent of traveler’s checks. Also, make sure your bank knows you will be in Mexico! We had major headaches with our account getting “locked” three days in a row during our last trip.
As I stated before, you won’t be able to call AAA, so make sure you can do simple repairs. If you can’t take a tire off the wheel and patch it, then maybe this trip is not for you. On our bikes, all consumables, tires, brake pads, chain and sprocket will be new for the trip. This is simply because if it needs replaced while we are there, the replacement could be days away.
Now that we’ve finish prepping for the trip, what are we going to do once we get there? Find out tomorrow!