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Recent driving directions TX to Lakeside?

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Can anyone help me? Maybe it's my new eyeglasses, but I can't find any recent explicit  driving directions from Laredo or Pharr (or any other nearby crossing) to Lakeside. I will have to make that midway stop in Matehuela since I am traveling with pets.  I would prefer cuota routes. In the past I saw some really detailed instructions, mentioning which turn to take after clearing immigration, which building to go to for the TIP, etc. Can someone give me the link? 

Also, I have my Temporal inside my passport, and I will be crossing the border for the first time in my US plated car. I know I have to pay the TIP deposit.  I am going to purchase Mexican auto insurance before I enter MX, as my US insurer won't cover me. Do I need to bring my car title? One person told me yes, another told me no.

Thanks so much. I leave in 36 hours and I am not anywhere near as prepared as I should be.

 

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Mainecoon has excellent directions from Pharr. Coming from there, you don’t overnight in Matehuala. That’s the Laredo-Lakeside mid-point.

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Just get a Garmin GPS with full North American maps (that include Mexico) or if you have a smart phone, download the Waze App. 

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What is wrong with a smart phone, using Google maps?  I have one.

My question was not about how to get automated directions, I can do that.  It is previous, personal recounting that individuals who have recently been there, done that share:  like "after you pass the Pemex station on the right, you will see 2 signs for Mexico (City), each pointing in a different direction. The first sign is the route you want."

Maybe I'm wrong, but a Garmin doesn't do that.

 

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Garmin will do all that if you set the parameters, toll roads only, no unpaved roads, etc. Waze will do it too. When starting out in the US, set the destination for Matehuela. Once there, set the destination for Chapala. Some GPS's will have you go the Zacatecas route and not the Matehuela route. 

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I used to use a Garmin.... have a fairly new one with up to date maps..... but I find that in my travels Google Maps on a smart phone is all/more than I need. AND, their traffic is more up to date.... dynamic actually.... and will give you an alternative route if warrantied. If you have that you will be find.

You sound like a fairly newbie... in that case I'd just cross at Laredo (maybe nearby Colombia) and follow the route that Google Maps gives you. IF you have not crossed at Laredo before finding the Immigration/Permit building can be a challenge. At Colombia it is a piece of cake and in the same small building. A bit farther out to Colombia but.....

Yes, you will need your car title to be safe.... some folks are saying that just the Registration is no longer enough at some crossings. If you use a credit card for the TIP payment/deposit the name on the card must exactly match the name on the Title... not Bill on one and William on the other. And don't forget, when exiting Mexico, to cancel your TIP and turn in your FMM Tourist Card.

You 'can' purchase Mexican car insurance online before your leave home so as to not have to find something at the border. Lewis & Lewis or San Xavier are my two go-to companies.

https://www.mexicanautoinsurance.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAyNjRBRCpARIsAPDBnn0x50lrzWzR_kYH8P6ZblfJKyqT6gaPhjfOSuu4ay-tNakQWWDD2IMaAqfUEALw_wcB

or

http://www.mexican-autoinsurance.com/

Safe Travels.....

 

 

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The signage is actually quite good heading to Laredo. There are only a few places between long stretches of cuota where any decision is required.

Look at the overall route using Google Maps. The suggested quickest route sends you around the north loop around SLP and then up to Mateheula. People who have taken the new bypass say it is signed well.

If you have a place you want to stop at in Matehuela put the address in your phone app. It may or may not deliver you to your destination.

Once out of Matehuela there really aren't any other decisions other than to head to Saltillo, to Monterrey and then to Nuevo Laredo following the signs. The only turn that could be considered difficult is making the last right to head to Bridge II. It too is well signed but that stretch of road has a lot of crazy drivers. Once heading to the bridge you're home free unless a stop at the car place under the bridge is required.

If your destination for the day is Laredo then Bridge II normally makes the most sense. If you plan to head north toward San Antonio then Columbia could be a better option. The signs are pretty clear on Hwy 85 showing the road heading out to Columbia.

Let a passenger look at the phone at the decision points. Reading a map on a small phone while driving can lead to big problems.

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The most important point for newbies, is to realize that they should know the geography of their route.  As you approach the next town on your list, for which there are signs, you must already be looking for the next signed town on your route. Otherwise, you may follow the signs right off the highway and into a town that you did not plan to visit.  If it happens, just turn around and reverse your route, looking for signs to the Autopista or Cuota and to the next town you want to pass.

We all managed to do that long before GPS or smart phones were even invented.  It works just fine, especially if you study a map before leaving & make some notes of the towns and the order in which you will pass them, along with those where you may want to exit for the night, or for a meal.

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3 hours ago, John Shrall said:

The signage is actually quite good heading to Laredo. There are only a few places between long stretches of cuota where any decision is required.

Look at the overall route using Google Maps. The suggested quickest route sends you around the north loop around SLP and then up to Mateheula. People who have taken the new bypass say it is signed well.

If you have a place you want to stop at in Matehuela put the address in your phone app. It may or may not deliver you to your destination.

Once out of Matehuela there really aren't any other decisions other than to head to Saltillo, to Monterrey and then to Nuevo Laredo following the signs. The only turn that could be considered difficult is making the last right to head to Bridge II. It too is well signed but that stretch of road has a lot of crazy drivers. Once heading to the bridge you're home free unless a stop at the car place under the bridge is required.

If your destination for the day is Laredo then Bridge II normally makes the most sense. If you plan to head north toward San Antonio then Columbia could be a better option. The signs are pretty clear on Hwy 85 showing the road heading out to Columbia.

Let a passenger look at the phone at the decision points. Reading a map on a small phone while driving can lead to big problems.

The OP is driving south, not north.....

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I have driven from the U.S. to Mexico, and vice versa, many times since 1993, using border crossings from California to Texas, but in recent years (most recently in April 2016) only via the Columbia Crossing west of Nuevo Laredo, then via either Matehuala and San Luis Potosi or Zacatecas and Aguascalientes to Lakeside.  I used to cross the border south of Harlingen, until I read that any crossing east of Laredo, including Reynosa, was too dangerous.  Now I am in Alamo, which is near McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley; I am eager to drive to Lakeside, where I lived year-around for 13 years (until 2016); and Laredo is three-hours west of here, making driving via it a very roundabout route.  In the experience of others who have driven more recently between Lakeside and Texas, is crossing at Laredo still the significantly most safe route?  And is the extra drive to the Columbia Crossing worth it in terms of safety or other considerations?

I do not have, by the way, a GPS or a smart phone with GPS capability, so I still use old-fashioned maps and get routes via Traza Su Ruta at www.sct.gob.mx.  Also, due to my age, I cannot drive as long or far as I used to, so I need to use routes that include stopping spots.  ("OK," I hear someone say, "maybe you should just stay home."  Maybe I should, but I am not quite ready to do that.)

I will appreciate all responses.

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17 hours ago, kimanjome said:

Can anyone help me? Maybe it's my new eyeglasses, but I can't find any recent explicit  driving directions from Laredo or Pharr (or any other nearby crossing) to Lakeside. I will have to make that midway stop in Matehuela since I am traveling with pets.  I would prefer cuota routes. In the past I saw some really detailed instructions, mentioning which turn to take after clearing immigration, which building to go to for the TIP, etc. Can someone give me the link? 

Also, I have my Temporal inside my passport, and I will be crossing the border for the first time in my US plated car. I know I have to pay the TIP deposit.  I am going to purchase Mexican auto insurance before I enter MX, as my US insurer won't cover me. Do I need to bring my car title? One person told me yes, another told me no.

Thanks so much. I leave in 36 hours and I am not anywhere near as prepared as I should be.

 

Just send a message to Mainecoons  here with your email address and he will send you a copy of his personal driving route through Pharr. No hassle. Easy.

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Hello kimanjome, just want to help you out with your trip to Mexico. I have driven through just about every border in Mexico. In matter of fact I just came through Santa Teresa in New Mexico. I do moving trips from u.s. to Chapala lake or chofer services. I just drove down from San Francisco,ca.with a load. The best advise I can give you is that all borders are about the same, but before you cross them make sure you have a idea on exactly where you can be issued your permits, and try not to look nervous and look confident. Also , if your crossing in the area of McAllen, I will go to mission, Texas and south. There is a bridge there which I like to cross. I do not recall the name at the moment, but You can find it google maps. Good luck, and if you have any questions you can also email me at marquezamo@hotmail.com

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I just drove to Texas from Ajijic using the app "WAZE". It directed me up both new bypasses.  I made it to Columbia Solidarity Bridge in 10 hrs and 27 minutes in 10 hrs 26 minutes just as the app predicted.  Download this free app and have a nice trip. 

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Geeser,

Did Waze try to take you thru Lagos then SLP or Aquascalientas and Zacatecas?

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Thanks to all, and yes, RickS, I am a newbie to driving in Mexico--but let it not go unsaid that last year I drove hubby and myself for 4 weeks all over  southern Africa, off road through the Kalahari, through 10 lane highways in Johannesburg, and the misty hairpin turns of the mountains of Swaziland--all the while trying to dodge tractor trailers, wildlife, and natives on bicycles. And driving on the wrong side of the road, no less. So I expect Mexico to be slightly easier.

That said, I want to do the Columbia crossing, with title in hand, and will have purchased insurance from the convenience of a hotel somewhere between Florida and Laredo. 

Question: If I overnight near the border the night before I cross over into Mexico, where is the most convenient place to stay? Would it be Laredo? If so, would it not be easier to just cross into Laredo the following morning... Or is it really and truly easier to make that extra drive up to Columbia? Should I take the Mines Rd?  Suggestions, please, for safe and secured lodging between Laredo and Columbia.

Great idea about mapping to Matahuala, as I will definitely have to stop midway (pets), then re-enter my route on my smartphone and pick up the remainder the next day. 

Thanks, and any other tips would be greatly appreciated, not only by myself, but others, I am sure.

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Aaack...just saw this post.

Questions to help you decide: Do you have your import permit for the vehicle? Is your car loaded to the hilt? Where are you coming from? Most important, since you are planning to cross during this busy, busy, busy Christmas holiday season, my advice is to go to the more quiet Colombia Solidarity Bridge crossing. We usually go to Laredo (see below) but we decided to overnight in Cotula at the La Quinta on 35 (northbound side, Taco Palenque within walking distance for a quick dinner or takeout if you don't want to leave the animals alone) to avoid about a 30 minute backtrack from Laredo to Colombia. La Quintas accept pets with no deposit and Cotula is about 50 miles north of the Colombia Solidarity crossing, or 40 min.driving time. The last gas stop before cutting over to the Colombia crossing is about 20 minutes south of Cotula.) Gas in Mexico is expensive and Monterrey is about 3 hours, not including idling time at bridges, construction, or traffic.

My suggestion is to use Colombia for speed at crossing. Leave early and be on line when they open at 8. Laredo, despite being a 24-hr crossing, is a zoo right now with holiday shoppers and visitors, and the INM office is crazy because everyone  (in or out) flows through the same initial line and it bottlenecks badly. Yesterday at 8 am Colombia was much busier than usual and the line looked about 45 minutes or more long and snaked outside the building, but that turned out to be people paying duty on their belongings (yes, they were inspecting with a fetish and the grassy center yard was filled with Beverly-Hillbillies trucks with 5 or more bicycles roped to the top of precarious loads) or on line for their Import permits for the car (our experience is that title and registration, the car has to be paid off and in your name, and we needed two sets of photocopies of everything but that was before we nationalized.) My line (I was cancelling our FMMs, returning to Mexico) was 5 people long and I was in and out in less than 20 minutes. Customs and INM were friendly and talkative, and more of the agents at Colombia seem to have a clue and even were helping people in line to fill out FMMs that did not have them completed already.

Gas stations are frequent all along the cuotas but every one yesterday (Sunday) had at least 30 cars in line; there didn't seem to be any fuel shortage (that's happened in the past, so fill up at 1/2 a tank) merely lots of cars. Traffic was extremely heavy yesterday on the cuotas well into San Luis Potosí with both truck traffic and the Clampett vehicles plus three slowdowns for construction, and rain from Waco to almost Matehuala slowed things down more. No checkpoints yesterday heading southbound; the usual ones northbound were moving well. We make the trip in one day from the border. It's long but very doable...but you drive in darkness the last few hours (from Lagos de Moreno to Lakeside.) The new macrolibramiento is open and nary a pothole yesterday, but 2 tolls. For your first trip, stop at Matehuala.

If you do decide to cross at Bridge 2 Laredo, expect a longer delay at INM which will delay your start. My advice, if this is your choice, is to overnight at the La Quinta Bob Bullock (same pet policy) which is cleaner and safer than the other one directly on 35. It adds about 20 minutes to the Bridge but you pass many gas stations with reasonably priced ($2.09-ish) fuel and a Starbucks that opens at 4:30 am...both bonuses. The earlier you cross at Bridge II, the shorter the lines are: when we go that route, we are out of the hotel by 5 am, get Starbucks (having gassed up the night before) and have our coffees while we wait to pay the bridge toll and get over to INM.) One year we were 4 1/2 hours IN LINE...and all we had to do was cancel out FMMS for our return...30 seconds, tops.

Matehuala is the best stopping point since you have pets and this is your first trip. Throughout, the scenery is gorgeous and diverse. Enjoy and welcome.

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I have crossed at Colombia for 10 yrs and always stay the night at the Days Inn in Laredo.  It's just about the first motel on the right  as you come in to Laredo on I-35 just past the high bridge.. In the morning you head back north on I-35  for about 2 miles then over the high bridge..1472 to the 225  Never timed it but I wouldn't say it's anymore than 20 mIns to the Colombia crossing. With the new bypass around SLP and the Macrolibremiento doing it in one day is very doable.. But as a first timer it might be wise to stop half way...

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14 hours ago, kimanjome said:

Thanks to all, and yes, RickS, I am a newbie to driving in Mexico--but let it not go unsaid that last year I drove hubby and myself for 4 weeks all over  southern Africa, off road through the Kalahari, through 10 lane highways in Johannesburg, and the misty hairpin turns of the mountains of Swaziland--all the while trying to dodge tractor trailers, wildlife, and natives on bicycles. And driving on the wrong side of the road, no less. So I expect Mexico to be slightly easier.

That said, I want to do the Columbia crossing, with title in hand, and will have purchased insurance from the convenience of a hotel somewhere between Florida and Laredo. 

Question: If I overnight near the border the night before I cross over into Mexico, where is the most convenient place to stay? Would it be Laredo? If so, would it not be easier to just cross into Laredo the following morning... Or is it really and truly easier to make that extra drive up to Columbia? Should I take the Mines Rd?  Suggestions, please, for safe and secured lodging between Laredo and Columbia.

Great idea about mapping to Matahuala, as I will definitely have to stop midway (pets), then re-enter my route on my smartphone and pick up the remainder the next day. 

Thanks, and any other tips would be greatly appreciated, not only by myself, but others, I am sure.

In my opinion if one is traveling south into Mexico like you, crossing downtown at International Bridge II is easier/better IF and ONLY IF one knows the directions to the Immigration building to get their FMM and TIP. It is NOT intuitive. The Colombia crossing, 'tho out of the way, is a no brainer to cross and get required documents.

Again, in my opinion, just stay in downtown Laredo.... right on I35 there are a dozen fine motels in all pricing ranges. They are all safe. I usually stay at the La Quinta Inn. In the morning if you decide to cross at Bridge II, it's extremely easy and 5 minutes to the crossing right down I35.  IF you decide to cross at Colombia, then YES retract you steps back up I35 a very short distance to Exit 4A which is to Mines Rd. Follow it all the way to Colombia Solidarity crossing... maybe 15 minutes out.

Hopefully you will not be crossing 'soon' as the Christmas traffic dramatically bogs down the facilities and you will be in very long lines no matter where you cross.

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