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Charlene
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Is it easy to rent a car while in Ajijic or do these sell out quickly and we should book before we get there in February? 

I'm asking because we aren't 100 sure we will rent a car. Our preference is to hire a private driver to tour us around the many villages since we won't know where the local shops are and real estate developments. Just having a hard time getting a hold of anybody down there so we may have to rent a car and do it ourselves.

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You can rent from any of a number of different agencies at Guadalajara airport. I have never rented a car at Guadalajara airport, but have done so at several other airports around Mexico. I have had good luck with National and Budget. You can also rent a car in Ajijic itself. There is a rental agency on the north side of the Carretera (the main drag) between Donato Guerra and Javier Mina streets. Keep in mind that if you rent in Ajijic, you will still have to get back and forth to the airport. Cab fare for that runs about $450 pesos ($23,50 USD) each way plus tip.

Auto rental rates are not unreasonable in Mexico, but you will need to buy Mexican insurance to cover damage to the car because your US insurance is no good here. This can run your costs up considerably, particularly if you rent for a week or two. Most auto rental prices include liability insurance, which covers damage to someone else. You will need to provide your US driver's license and a credit card and possibly also your passport.

Driving in Mexico can be a little unnerving to the uninitiated. Many Mexicans seem to regard traffic laws as guidelines rather than firm rules, so defensive driving is an absolute must. The most difficult problem I encounter is directional signs. They can be confusing, and not only because they will be in Spanish. Sometimes they will be absent altogether, or impossible to see because of foliage or other obstructions. Signs with street names are not on poles on corners, clearly visible with large type like you may be used to. Here, they will be on a small sign on the corner of a building, sometimes a fair distance from the street and with fading print. Mexican planners absolutely love one-way streets and you will find that they always seem to be heading in the wrong direction. When traveling in areas of Mexico with which I am unfamiliar, I always plot out my route on Google maps in advance, taking note of every necessary turn. At such turns, I check out Google street view to see what the landmarks are, in case there is no directional sign. If you have GPS, that can be helpful too.

If you are just here for a few days, there is a local travel agency called Charter Club Tours that is excellent. It offers numerous day trips to places in the immediate area and also trips for several days to locations further away. You can also avail yourself of the services of local real estate agencies that will tour you around to various local villages where you might want to rent or buy. There are also local professional drivers who will take you to specific locations and even on all day jaunts. There have been many posts on Chapala.com about these drivers. Finally, taxicabs here are relatively cheap, compared to US rates.

I hope all this is helpful. Others may have additional advice.

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I have had trouble (about half the time) renting cars in Mexico and avoiding buying their insurance, since my US credit cards already provide coverage for what they sell as CDW. They also try to sell "optional liability" which is a scam because the car already has liability insurance. I say if it optional, I don't want it. Then they say it really isn't optional! On Expedia, you can make a reservation and get this insurance coverage a lot cheaper than at the agency. 

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I used rentalcarsdotcom to book a car for arrival at GDL when I was there in September. They handle it all. The car company were had everything waiting for me. 

 Get your insurance that is offered on the website. It is the cheapest. Do not accept any upgrade the rental company offers you when you check in. Make sure you print off all the paperwork that the insurance and booking company sends you and take it to show when you pick up your car. 

 Super easy to drive to Lake Chapala and find your way around. I used Access Lake Chapala to your us around for a day. No pressure and will give you a ton of information. 

PM me if you would like more information on this.

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