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Friendly tips for road trippers


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Hi All, 

My girlfriend and are planning on moving to Chápala area from Illinois in early March. We were looking for some travel tips and answer to some questions. 
 

 

 

Any tips for traveling with US plates

Any tips on repair shops along the way

Any trips on dog friendly hotels that are safe to stay at

Any recommendations on self defense items that are legal pepper stay taser?

How many dogs per person can be taken across the border?

Why type of documentation should we have for dogs?

What is getting back To US with dogs like?

Do you recommend we get residency while here?

Any insurance recommendations?

Any breed restrictions ?

Any thing we should know about taking dogs to public places? 

Thoughts or concerns with cargo container on top of car. 

How does medical insurance work? Is there a cheaper alternative to a global plan?

Is it wise to open a Mexican bank account?

 

 

 

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Before you leave the US buy Mexican car insurance (I used Lewis and Lewis); it should include roadside assistance; and make sure your cellphone will work in Mexico; don't forget to get a TIP when you cross into Mexico. TIP is a temporary import permit for your vehicle.

If you are driving down from Laredo you can stay at the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matehuala; it is safe and your top of car cargo carrier will be safe.

Dogs: there is all kinds of info on the Mexican government websites; we have a dog and travelled across the border in both directions and never asked a question about the dog; we do carry his health certificate and vaccination records.

Self defense items: you might end up in jail if you get caught with a gun or other weapon that customs or the police don't like.

Health care: don't come here if you are sick; if you are healthy I would plan on paying cash for any health care issues in the the short term.

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32 minutes ago, Out1 said:

Before you leave the US buy Mexican car insurance (I used Lewis and Lewis); it should include roadside assistance; and make sure your cellphone will work in Mexico; don't forget to get a TIP when you cross into Mexico. TIP is a temporary import permit for your vehicle.

If you are driving down from Laredo you can stay at the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matehuala; it is safe and your top of car cargo carrier will be safe.

Dogs: there is all kinds of info on the Mexican government websites; we have a dog and travelled across the border in both directions and never asked a question about the dog; we do carry his health certificate and vaccination records.

Self defense items: you might end up in jail if you get caught with a gun or other weapon that customs or the police don't like.

Health care: don't come here if you are sick; if you are healthy I would plan on paying cash for any health care issues in the the short term.

We read about Las Palamas do you happen to know if they allow dogs? If not, we can always call we were considering driving all the way through because of our dogs. 
 

as for health care both of us are young and just got back our blood work a couple months ago with no concerns. I was wondering what PCP costs were like to stay on top of health while living out there. We plan to eventually get temporary residency. 

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Trip adviser says the Las Palmas Midway Inn is pet friendly; call or email them and find out for sure. Most pet friendly hotels have size, number, and sometimes type of pet regulations.

PCP - please explain ? I doubt you are asking about the drug.

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Travelling with dogs can be a problem as many motels won't allow them. A number of us drew up a list of motels that would accept dogs and it was posted as a sticky at the start of this Board but it has disappeared. Make sure your dogs have their shots up to date-bring their record. I have travelled back and forth many times with my two labs-only once did they have to sleep in the vehicle. What route will you be driving? The AAA books often say which motels will take pets. If you post your driving route people can tell you where they found pet friendly motels. At the border they usually don't check too closely. The same applies travelling back to th US.

Don't drive ar night as some vehicles don't have lights.

What is PCP?

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6 minutes ago, cedros said:

Travelling with dogs can be a problem as many motels won't allow them. A number of us drew up a list of motels that would accept dogs and it was posted as a sticky at the start of this Board but it has disappeared. Make sure your dogs have their shots up to date-bring their record. I have travelled back and forth many times with my two labs-only once did they have to sleep in the vehicle. What route will you be driving? The AAA books often say which motels will take pets. If you post your driving route people can tell you where they found pet friendly motels. At the border they usually don't check too closely. The same applies travelling back to th US.

What is PCP?

we are driving from Laredo. Using the route posted on the access lake chapala blog. 
 

PCP = Primary care physician. 

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9 minutes ago, Out1 said:

Trip adviser says the Las Palmas Midway Inn is pet friendly; call or email them and find out for sure. Most pet friendly hotels have size, number, and sometimes type of pet regulations.

PCP - please explain ? I doubt you are asking about the drug.

Primary care physician. 

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I don't know the "the access lake chapala blog." What route is that? 

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OK, here we go...all are my opinions only.  US plates are no problem as long as you are on Tourist visa or Temporal visa.  Tourist visa good for 6 months and your car will require a TIP (temporary import permit) which will require a refundable deposit in cash or credit card which you will pay at the port of entry.  Do not leave the border area without getting your TIP.  If you think you might need a repair shop while travelling, I'd recommend getting a different car.  Repairs are not expensive but waiting for parts could be a problem.  And there are roads between here and the border that are very remote and not close to any kind of repair shop.  Tasers are available locally at the local Wednesday market. Just the contact type, not the ones that shoot out with wires.  Pepper spray as well.  You might need, and should have, a current vet certificate but we have never been asked for one entering Mexico.  Same requirements when returning to US and we have been asked for it there.  Any visa other than tourist visa will have to begin in a Mexican consulate in the US.  You can Google the requirements but it's  not recommended until you have lived here long enough to be sure you want to stay.  Mexico is not for everybody.  Millions visit, thousands stay, hundreds surrender and return to their home country.  Mexican travel insurance for the car is cheap and easy to get online...usually for one year and is good even if coming and going.  Your US insurance can stay in effect or can be cancelled and reinstated when you return.  You current US health provider might arrange for you to be covered while travelling or you can buy a seperate travel policy online.  Health care costs are relatively low here and if you have Medicare they will cover emergency problems while on vacation in Mexico.  There are no breed restrictions for dogs.  There are leash laws but they are commonly disregarded.  Dogs are welcome in public and even in some restaurants.  Not in most retail establishments.  The best places to stay with a car carrier or stuff in your car are what they call No Tell motels or "hot sheet" joints.  They are clean, cheap, and you can bring you dog.  You drive right through the private entrance and park in a private garage.  An employee will arrive to collect cash payment through a lazy susan in the wall.  You can order food and beverages which will be provided the same way.  I will caution you not to turn on the TV unless you are looking for a certain kind of adult entertainment.  Lastly, you probably won't be able to open a Mexican bank account unless you have a Temporal or Permanente visa.  Most folks just hit the ATM's to get pesos at whatever the current exchange rate is.  You can usually get up to 500.00USD equivalent for a few of about 4.00USD.  Good luck...enjoy the adventure!  Alan

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Most folks from this area use the Laredo area to cross back and forth.  There are easier places both south and north of Laredo.  Coming from Illinois, you might consider a more northern entry point.  Laredo is about 11 hours from here and most drivers make that in one day.  If you can't do that, and are planning to spend a night in Mexico, you might consider crossing at Del Rio into Ciudad Acuna.  It sort of depends on when you get to the border.  But if you stay in Del Rio and cross as early as you can, the entire process will only take you 20 or thirty minutes.  As you cross the bridge you end up on the plaza of a very small town.  The inspection takes place right there, the immigration office is right there.  The Bank where you pay for your TIP is right there.  There are copy shops and money exchange places right there.  The road out of town is the one on the near side of the plaza right next to where you park your car where a guard will watch it for you.  Many times, we were practically the only car there.  There is another inspection area about one hour south where they are checking your car papers and TIP.   Be aware that legally, they can question your type and quantity of household belongings unless you have a non tourist visa.  We brought is a lot of stuff as tourists and a smile and a shrug and a point to your wife seems to do the trick.  Just don't bring things that look new or might be for resale.  Ciudad Acuna is a 13 hour drive from here but you save a least two hours  time by not driving so far south to Laredo and you save that much time by not waiting in lines in Laredo.  The Laredo crossing area also has a bit of a reputation for bogus traffic stops requiring a bribe to proceed.  There are hotels in Saltillo and Monclava to break up the trip.  It depends on if you cross early or later in the day since you might not spend the night in Del Rio.  Don't let the gas tank get too low before stopping.  There are areas that make west Texas look over-populated!  You will start to think of a Pemex station as an oasis.  Some bathrooms are free and some require a coin to enter.  Most are surprisingly clean but the free ones might not have paper so come prepared.  It's all part of the adventure.  Be safe, Alan

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18 minutes ago, barrbower said:

Most folks from this area use the Laredo area to cross back and forth.  There are easier places both south and north of Laredo.  Coming from Illinois, you might consider a more northern entry point.  Laredo is about 11 hours from here and most drivers make that in one day.  If you can't do that, and are planning to spend a night in Mexico, you might consider crossing at Del Rio into Ciudad Acuna.  It sort of depends on when you get to the border.  But if you stay in Del Rio and cross as early as you can, the entire process will only take you 20 or thirty minutes.  As you cross the bridge you end up on the plaza of a very small town.  The inspection takes place right there, the immigration office is right there.  The Bank where you pay for your TIP is right there.  There are copy shops and money exchange places right there.  The road out of town is the one on the near side of the plaza right next to where you park your car where a guard will watch it for you.  Many times, we were practically the only car there.  There is another inspection area about one hour south where they are checking your car papers and TIP.   Be aware that legally, they can question your type and quantity of household belongings unless you have a non tourist visa.  We brought is a lot of stuff as tourists and a smile and a shrug and a point to your wife seems to do the trick.  Just don't bring things that look new or might be for resale.  Ciudad Acuna is a 13 hour drive from here but you save a least two hours  time by not driving so far south to Laredo and you save that much time by not waiting in lines in Laredo.  The Laredo crossing area also has a bit of a reputation for bogus traffic stops requiring a bribe to proceed.  There are hotels in Saltillo and Monclava to break up the trip.  It depends on if you cross early or later in the day since you might not spend the night in Del Rio.  Don't let the gas tank get too low before stopping.  There are areas that make west Texas look over-populated!  You will start to think of a Pemex station as an oasis.  Some bathrooms are free and some require a coin to enter.  Most are surprisingly clean but the free ones might not have paper so come prepared.  It's all part of the adventure.  Be safe, Alan

Alan, thanks for all the insight. Did you get your dogs inspected by Senasica after crossing the border?

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12 hours ago, Jrod730 said:

we are driving from Laredo. Using the route posted on the access lake chapala blog. 

In the USA, Red Roof Inns are great for those traveling with a dog.    For the 1 night in MX, either Las Palmas in Matehuala or at the north end of the same town is a decent no=tell motel.        Kevin's instructions you posted the link for are great if going from Laredo.    You might want to also check about crossing at Colombia Bridge just west of Laredo, it is a much smaller, faster, nicer, easier place to cross IMHO.     Then from there you follow good local roads until getting on the cuotas to Monterrey.

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After crossing the border into Mexico, we have never had anybody check anything about the dog.  They did pet her through the window though.  Returning to the states, we had them check her vaccinations record from our Mexican vet so be sure to get that done here before returning.  In most vet clinics here they don't keep your pet's history.  You keep it in a little booklet.  That is changing some as the bigger vet clinics have computerized record keeping.  Alan

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Absolutely no problem with any size or breed of dogs at Las Palmas in Matehaula. Make sure you reserve ahead of time and tell them you have dogs, as they have certain rooms next to the big dog walking area that they put you in. 

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Remember, coming down from Laredo, there are two main routes, one going through San Luís Potosí thats the one you pass the Hotel Las Palmas.  The other one is the Zacatecas route is the one we prefer.  It has less traffic and less tolls, hence cheaper.  Both have good roads and are considered safe.

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When we first came down to Mexico from San Francisco we had 3 mastiffs and 3 cat with us..  We freted  before crossing the border as we could not get anyone to agree to let us stay with all the animals so we went ahead and had no problems but what we found out is that having kennels really helped us convince the hotel managers we would not sleep with the dogs and would not let them wander...I would not want to do this trip again as we had 2 cars and followed each other then topped at 2 or 3 in the afternoon to look for a place just to make sure we would get one.. When we arrived in Ajijic we put all the animal in a kennel and we rented a place from the Nueva Posada until we were free to move into our house.

We have travelled since with smaller dogs and the kennels helped and the fact that the dogs are hairless also helps convice the hotels we are not bringing flees in..

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45 minutes ago, dichosalocura said:

Remember, coming down from Laredo, there are two main routes, one going through San Luís Potosí thats the one you pass the Hotel Las Palmas.  The other one is the Zacatecas route is the one we prefer.  It has less traffic and less tolls, hence cheaper.  Both have good roads and are considered safe.

Just curious .. Does the Zacatecas route still take you through town in Aguascalientes?  

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The drive through Aguascalientes takes about 30 minutes and there are several ways to do it.  The easiest way is to take the well marked periferico when coming from the north.  It is basically a business loop with lots of gas stations, places to eat, etc.  Crazy traffic after mostly driving through deserts but just follow the signs and you eventually end up turning left on the highway that takes you towards Guad.  You really don't have to make any tricky turns or maneuvers through the old part of town.  Alan

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