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Driving from Los Angeles to Chapala

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My wife and I will be driving with our animals from Los Angeles/Orange County to Chapala next weekend. We have not driven across Mexico before. Any suggestions on routes, crossing points or roads? We're considering crossing the border at El Paso or Laredo to avoid overnighting in Mexico. Is hiring a driver necessary? All suggestions and comments welcome! Thanks.

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Cross at Nogales. Come straight down on 15.  Toll road most of the way.  Drive only during daylight hours.  Good stops are Cuidad Obregon and Mazatlan. No worries!

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There's no reason to avoid overnight in Mexico. There's town called Matehuela a couple hours from the border that takes pets. Here's there info:

Hotel Las Palmas Midway Inn\nKm 617, Matehuala, Mexico
Tel: 01(488) 882-0001, 882-0002, 881-0435
 
Staying there puts you an easy day's drive from Chapala.

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Coming from California, I suggest crossing at Nogalez, AZ, then going south on Rt 15D in Mexico, all the way to Guadalajara.  It is simple and safe, with lots of places to spend the nights.  Do not rush, as there are places to see along the way.  Enjoy.

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Don't forget the necessary paperwork for your pets and remember that your vehicle will heat up quickly when parked which means you cannot leave the pets in it without air conditioning running.  I realize that when traveling with pets, the main focus is on arriving at your destination - good luck, it will all work out.

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I agree with the above (except for the part about crossing at Laredo and staying in Matehuala which would add 500 unnecessary miles to your journey!) about crossing at Nogales and driving down freeway 15D to Guadalajara, then down to Lake Chapala. "Over-nighting' in Mexico is no big deal.... hundreds of thousands of folks do it annually. And, even if you did cross at El Paso or Laredo you will need to stay overnight somewhere. Just DON'T drive at night (not because of bandidos but bad drivers and loose livestock).

Maybe some 'animal travelers' will shed some light on pet friendly motels along that route.

P.S.  Hiring a driver I guess would be an option but if that thought is on your mind I'm not sure that coming to Mexico is right for you. If you are capable of driving from LA to, say, Kansas City you are a good candidate to drive from LA to Guadalajara!

 

 

 

 

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On route 15 libre in Culiacan, is a Motel Paraiso (on Calle Internacional, not far from centro), which is very nice, economical and has a restaurant. Room service is available, so you do not have to leave your dog.  There are grassy areas and parking is gated, guarded and in front of your motel room; so, no need to unload the car.

You may find other pet-friendly motels by searching for “no-tell motels“, “pet-friendly“, etc., on this and other websites for Mexico.  Mexicans do not customarily travel with pets, so the majority of hotels do not accept pets.

Hint:  Hotels are for families.....Motels are for couples.  Welcome to Mexico.

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We crossed at Lukeville, after spending the night in Jila Bend. First night at Best Western on N end of Navojoa. It will be on your right. If you get an early start out of Jila Bend, like 6am, you should hit Novojoa about dusk. Second night in Mazatlan. Take your pick. If you have a dog, we like Los Arcos on the beach. Next day paradise!

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19 hours ago, HookEmHorns said:

Is this just a weekend trip, or for a little longer? BTW, have you driven across the US, like from LA to Laredo, before?

We're moving permanently to Ajijic and haven't driven across Mexico before. We've shipped our possessions and will be driving our cats. Have driven all over the US and are comfortable driving - just not sure about all the stories we hear! I'm beginning to understand that we need to separate the facts from all the fiction!

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Now you mention pets. My 2 overnight recommendations would be ideal for you. You might find something nice on the outskirts of Mazatlan but after 2 days of driving, we liked the oceanfront location of Los Arcos. Coming from the north, exit the Cuota at the first mention of a Mazatlan exit, then proceed south, go around the marina and go a couple miles, then take a right off that road to the first road off the beach. Los Arcos is there.

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We have made this trip a number of time crossing at Nogales. Most recently we drove to San Diego over the Christmas holidays with our 2 small dogs. Got health certificates and have never been asked for them in any of the 5 border crossings in the 7 years living here. In either direction. Here is where we have found the best overnight stops. Stay in Nogales,Az the night before crossing into Mexico. Anywhere they allow pets. Stock up on snacks and sandwiches from Safeway the night before. It is hard to stop to eat in Mexico with pets in the car as it is too hot. We take tuns going to the bathroom so we can leave the a/c running. 

1st night in Mexico we stay at Hotel del Rio in Navajoa. Pet friendly and nice restaurant. Right off the highway. Dinner and breakfast there. Over the holidays it was only 1062 pesos. 

The next night we stayed in Mazatlan across from the boardwalk at the Hotel Aguamarina. Not fancy but pets okay. Go to one of the fish restaurants on the beach across the street. We even too the dogs with us to dinner. Nice sunset and you will really feel like you have arrived in Mexido. As others said...nothing to be afraid of. Just stay on the quota and drive during the day. 

If you only have cats I would. Or even mention it to the hotel since you don't have to walk them. 

I realize it is a scary adventure you are embarking on. I will PM you my US Vomage number. Feel free to call. I'm good at giving support and can answer questions for you. Congratulation on the life changing decision you have made  

 

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Very considerate and nice of you Joyfull..Congrats..I only fly back and forth from L.A...Cannot imagine driving..Made multiple auto trips from Fla..many years ago, but only fly any more as my houses and Mex. car are here. We are flying down this week for awhile..Wishing them good travels on their trip..

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I've read very good advice here. As a single woman driving alone, is it still safe? Based on what I've read, I'll cross at Nogales and take 15 down to Guadalajara, daytime driving only. I don't have pets.  

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13 minutes ago, Dani said:

As a single woman driving alone, is it still safe?

You will improve your odds by not making eye contact with Mexican men.

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You should be fine. Good choices for overnight are Navajoa and Mazatlan. Get pesos for tolls, gas and lodging in Nogales. Don't forget Mexican car insurance and a permit for your vehicle. 

 

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Thank you so much. I'd read about the Mex ins and car permit. Hadn't thought about pesos for the toll. This whole feed is good info. Thank you again

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We drove from San Francisco with a pick up and a car 3 mastiffs and 2 cats in July. We took it very easy , stopped early so we could relax and walk the dogs in the evening. We stayed in the valley somewhere and then stayed in Tucson for 2 days leaving the ainmals in an air conditioned kennel .  Then crossed at Nogales and stayed n Guaymas the first night. We had kennels for the dogs and cats and it really helped us get hotel rooms.. From Guaymas we drove to Navajoa and then to Tepic and Ajijic. We took it easy and walked the dogs a lot late afternoon. The kennels helped us get rooms in the hotels. People were very scared of the dogs so they stayed away and it was fine but I think we would have had major problems f we had not brought the kennels with us. We never mentionned the cats as the dogs were enough  to have to negociate for.. The dogs stayed in kennels while in the room so that was no problems     but we had to negociate quite a bit to have the hotels lets us in with 3 mastiffs..I think it would have been really tough for us to find places without the kennels. We stopped early in the day so we had plenty of time to find a hotel that was close to areas where we could walk the dogs. We were asked for the dog certifcates at the border  but we had everytng n order so that was ok.. The cats were ever checked.

 I drove the car and my husband drove the pick up. I was never bothered by anyone but then I had 2 mastiffs with me and people were scared to death  of them so t was no problem. We left early in the day and stopped early so we could go for walks with the dogs and relax in the afternoon. We had no problems.

My advice with pets, stop erly and have kennels. We did not pay extra anywhere but we had to convince people  in several places tolet us stay, we stayed in nice places  no not tell motels and it worked out fine. We even stayed in the center in Tepic wit the 3 mastiffs..

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Every 3 months for 4 years we had to go back and forth to texas to care for our mother.  We had 3 dogs, 2 of them were mexican street dogs.  In the 17 crossings back and forth we were never once asked for dog papers.....so funny.....We usually stay in matahuala, Las Palmas, but have stayed at many motels and hotels.  We tell them we have dogs and will pay a little extra.  Weve had good luck, some places say no.  The only advice I have is start looking for a place to stay the night at 4:00 because sometimes it might take a little while and you dont want to drive at night.  Although at times we had to so we just stayed behind an 18 wheeler to lead the way...lol

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15 hours ago, Dani said:

........................... Hadn't thought about pesos for the toll. 

Tolls will run you around 1800 pesos mas o menos. 

At the Nogales border, recommend using the Mariposa crossing just west of town rather than going straight through Nogales Mx.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Dani said:

I've read very good advice here. As a single woman driving alone, is it still safe? Based on what I've read, I'll cross at Nogales and take 15 down to Guadalajara, daytime driving only. I don't have pets.  

I made the trip many times myself, single woman. I didn't experience any problems, just random acts of kindness. Just practice the same safety measures you'd take anywhere.

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A couple of weeks ago I took Hwy 15 up to Nogales from Chapala.  Roads were excellent and should be considering the amount of tolls one pays during such a trip.  Seemed like there was a toll station every 15 minutes.  Well, a lot anyway.

Although I have driven this route alone many times I chose to use a driver this time as back problems have me pretty much incapacitated.  We planned a two day trip, one day to Los Mochis and then one more day up to Nogales.  All went smoothly until, between Guaymas and Hermosillo, in the middle of the desert, my car started overheating and we could not continue.  A hose had come loose and all my coolant had escaped.  

I had no auto tools with me and only a liter of drinking water.  We were stuck for about three hours and no passing cars would stop to help.  With good reason as most Mexican travelers are afraid of each other and stopping to help a stranded motorist is not part of the current culture.  Apparently two big guys standing in the road waving empty water bottles did not inspire confidence.  Calls to the 074 emergency number got only vague promises that perhaps, in five or six hours, a tow truck could be sent out from Guaymas.  Not very helpful and the famous Green Angels who used to patrol the roads are nowhere to be seen these days.  Incidentally if you don't speak and understand Spanish you will have a very, very hard time calling for the help that's maybe never going to come anyway. 

Finally I remembered that there was a Leatherman tool somewhere in my luggage and with it we were able to re-attach the loose hose.  But we still had no water.  After close to three hours a pickup stopped across the hwy in the southbound lane and Felipe my driver ran over and caught him before he could take off.  Fortunately he had a two gallon jug of drinking water that we were able to buy from him and that allowed us to limp into Hermosillo and refill with coolant.  Note...this guy didn't stop to help us, he was reading a map when Felipe started knocking on his window.

The moral of this story is that if you are going to drive across that desert you should be prepared to handle any type of minor breakdown yourself because it's very probable that no one is going to stop to help you.  At least that was my very recent experience.  Take tools, several gallons of water and spares of any parts that are likely to fail on the trip

I had never had any type of problem before on any of the many trips I've made through Mexico over the years and had become complacent.  I will be much better prepared should I ever make this trip again.

Charlie

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On 5/18/2019 at 7:38 PM, Dani said:

Thank you so much. I'd read about the Mex ins and car permit. Hadn't thought about pesos for the toll. This whole feed is good info. Thank you again

Oh, and Dani, time your trip so that you are ensconsed in a hotel, bought groceries, etc. before dark. Lots of people stop for the night in Navajoa after crossing at Nogales, but once there was a lot of construction on the highway which slowed things way down, and it was almost dusk when I got to just north of Guaymas. So I deeked over to San Carlos and spent the night there. It's good to have several researched options for where to spend the night or nights, in case you don't get as far in a day as you planned to.

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If you book reservations online, I strongly suggest that you call the hotel to verify that they are pet-friendly... We showed up at dusk and were told that the online info was wrong. They were kind enough to direct us to another hotel that accepted pets... 

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Yes you should have plenty of water and atarp for shade when you travel through hot areas. We broke down in the middle of nowhere in Vera Cruz State with 3 dogs.. and spent several hours on the side of the road as well waiting for the ins adjuster who also brooke down and the green angels.  Motorists stopped to help us but could not as the car was damage by a pece of metal that was on the highway. The CAPUFE  ( in charge of toll roads)people paid for it but we had to wait for hours until their people came ..By the way keep the receipts for your tolls as it is the way to prove you paid and therefore are insurred on some highway for things that are their fauly.. They were on their way to pick up that metal pece on the road.. but we got there first..

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