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By: Brent & Erin May
Our Mexico Adventure: TRAVELING TO MEXICO with the CAR
From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada to Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, Mexico. We traveled from Saskatoon, Canada and spent 3 days in the U.S. using the interstates, which were fast and easy to navigate.
It drives me bananas when people say that Mexico is dangerous. My go to response to that comment is that Mexico is MASSIVE. Some places, sure, but lots of places are just fine. If it drives me bananas, and I have no interest in the matter, then it must really get your goat… You’ve heard it a million times, if something is going to happen to you it can happen in the US or Canada as well!
Erin was getting a few looks as she drove our pre-loaded up truck, paddle boards, bikes in a blizzard while I hosted a stay & play at Viewpoint. The journey begins.
Day 1 – Saskatoon to Winnipeg
Although Oaxaca (Wa-Ha-Ka) state is on the West coast it is considered South Eastern Mexico. We plan on crossing the USA and Mexico border through Mission, Texas and travelling to Veracruz and then West to Puerto Angel. Because of this we decided to head east from Saskatoon to Winnipeg for our first stop. A bit of a short day as we waited to ensure the plows were out ahead of us.
Travel Tip #1 – It is very important to purchase vehicle insurance when bringing your vehicle into Mexico. Insurance can be purchased both online before your trip or at the Mexico border.
Day 2 – Winnipeg MB to Lincoln Nebraska
Crossing at Mission, Texas to drive down to Veracruz and West to Puerto Angel. This route bypasses some of the more troublesome spots in the state of Tamaulipas such as San Fernando, Ciudad Victoria and Tampico. It is made up mainly of toll roads which makes it more expensive, but the roads are much better and it is a lot safer.
Travel Tip #2 – You will need to have Mexico vehicle permit when bringing your vehicle into the country. Vehicle permits can be purchased online before your trip or can be obtained once you cross into Mexico.
Day 3 – Lincoln Nebraska to Fort Worth Texas
Crossing at Mission, Texas to down to Veracruz and West to Puerto Angel. We are almost to the USA Mexico border.
Travel Tip #3 – It’s important to purchase a good Mexico roadmap with up to date information on roads and Mexico infrastructure. We recommend the Guia Roji Map of Mexico as it is specific and provides detailson every road in Mexico. This map can be found at many stores including Staples, Indigo and Chapters bookstores and also can be purchased on Amazon.com. Use this map to ensure you arrive to your destination safely and in time.
Before you embark on your drive to Mexico, take a look at our checklist and tips for a worry free road trip:
Day 4 – Fort Worth Texas to McAllen, Texas
Crossing at Mission, Texas to drive down to Veracruz and West to Puerto Angel. Here is a shot of us in Nebraska with our truck AKA The Road Warrior!
Travel Tip #4 – When driving in Mexico always be on the look out for topes, Mexico’s speed bumps. They can damage your tires and struts if you do not slow down.
It is recommended to make a copy of your passport, leaving one at home in Canada and one with you during your travels. Best place to cross the boarder to Mexico is Laredo at the world trade bridge.
Day 5 – McAllen, Texas to Puebla, Puebla.
We spent the night in McAllen, Texas where we began our 2-day journey into Mexico headed to our home in Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.
After a great sleep at the Hampton Inn and Suites we went to Sandborn’s to purchase vehicle insurance. They open at 9 am and this only took 10 min but purchasing ahead of time would allow for an earlier start crossing the border.
Day 5: Mission, TX to Puebla
Total Distance: 504.84 miles/812.50 kms
Total Time: 14 hours
Leg #1: Mission, TX to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon – 134 miles/215.65 kms
Stayed at Hampton Inn & Suites in McAllen, Texas, about 32 kms from Mission, MX. Comfortable stay with free hot breakfast in the morning to start our day. Stopped at Sanborns Insurance in the morning to purchase our vehicle insurance. Took only 10 minutes and we were on our way to the border crossing at the Mission US/Mexico border crossing. We got to the border in Mission and crossed into the border at Anzalduas crossing. We followed the signs to get on the toll road on Highway 40. We made it to Reynosa only to discover we were supposed to purchase our vehicle permit back in Mission – time to turn around! Got our vehicle permit which took approximately 30 minutes and headed back on Highway 40 west towards Monterrey.
Leg #2: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon to Matehuala, San Luis Potosi – 116.4 miles/187.32 kms
We continued on from Monterrey towards Saltillo – still on highway 40. Where indicated we turned left on to highway 57 to San Luis Potosi.
Leg #3: San Luis Potosi to Queretaro, Qro – 123 miles/198 kms
We then headed south to Queretaro and took the El Arco del Norte (AKA: Northern Arch) which is a relatively new 4 lane toll highway that bypasses Mexico City on the east side. There is no highway number is published for this toll highway. This freeway did not start from Quertaro but quite a bit further South only about a 100 km North of Mexico City.
Leg #4 – Quertaro to San Martin Texmelucan – 109.53 miles/176.27 kms
Leg #5 – San Martin Texmelucan to Puebla – 21.91 miles/35.26 kms
Arrived in the city of Puebla and stayed at the Holiday Inn right off the toll highway 105D. After a fun filled Canadian summer we are quite excited to get back into Mexico and down to our oceanfront condo. — at The Bridge, Mission, Texas border crossing.
We decided to cross at Mission as it is a little more ‘laid back’ compared to other crossing. It is also just off the Super Highways connecting Canada, USA and Mexico for trading.
As Erin and I crossed the border and initial inspection we laughed a little to ourselves as we were not even asked for ID. A quick question about where we are heading and a glance into the back of our truck and we were on our way. Maybe it was all a little to ‘laid back.’ Last year when we traveled through the Nogales crossing we went to a 26 KM check point where we purchased permits, visa and insurance. After arriving at roughly a 26 KM point South of Mission we were asked for our permit and what to declare rather than being able to purchase them. Opps! This is a shot of Erin back at the border buying our vehicle insurance.
We traveled bypassing Reynosa, Monterrey, and further South to San Luis Patois. Although we traveled further to Puebla, San Luis Potosi is a great stop for a shorter day.
Travel Tip # 5 – Green Angels – The Green Angels are government-operated trucks driven by mechanics who patrol the roads and provide service to vehicles. Todate, Mexico is the only country with this service. Labour and towing are free, but to replace a part would be at the expense of the car owner. In addition, they are equipped to give tourist information as they are connected to government offices via a network. Although their services are free, tips are appreciated.
Travel Tip #6 – Driving in Mexico is perfectly safe and enjoyable. It is no more difficult than driving in the U.S., though defensive driving is a requirement. Despite what you have heard, Mexicans are polite — on the open road. In cities, a certain amount of aggression is required.
AMA is a great source for travel maps etc. We used an AMA map to help us on our journey. They caused us some confusion though as they recommended we take a relatively new freeway called the El Arco Del Norte from Quertaro to bypass Mexico City. This freeway did not start from Quertaro but quite a bit further South only about a 100 km North of Mexico City.
Travel Tip #7 – Avoid driving at night. Loose livestock as well as wild animals such as coyotes and deer are common place. Roads are often poorly lit and a lack of shoulders throughout Mexico makes it a dangerous practice. Our tip for driving at night is – DON’T!
Although it is not recommended to travel at night it is safe to do so on the freeways. They are well marked with reflectors on the lanes and medians. Secondary highways are a different story.
Because of a few pre-driving tasks before the border, our 26 km mistake, a construction delay and a few stops as we thought we missed the El Arco Del Norte we traveled by night into Puebla at night. This route took 12 hours.
Travel Tip # 8 – Left Turn Signals On the open road, a left turn signal is an invitation to the person behind you to pass. Trucks and buses frequently turn their left blinker on to guide you around them. They can usually be trusted, but use common sense. Sometimes they have optimistic views of your acceleration capabilities. Don’t use your left turn signal on a two lane road when you are about to pass. You might get hit. A few readers have pointed out that on the toll roads, people use turn signals as they do here. Our advice — use them as you are used to on toll roads, but don’t expect the other drivers to do the same.
Left Turns Left turns are different! When there is a left turn lane, there will usually be a left turn arrow. Look for 4 lights on the signal. You MUST wait for the arrow.
Right Turns Right on red is usually not OK, unless there is a sign saying that it is (Derecha con Precaucion). If you are determined to turn, use your best judgment.
Puebla is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, some of which are active. It is one of the five most important Spanish colonial cities in Mexico. It also has one of the largest VW manufacturing plant.
Day 6 – Puebla, Puebla to Puerto Angel Oaxaca
We continued of from Puebla down the 150 D turning into the 145 D with a right on the 185. An alternate stop on the 3 days in Mexico trip would be the Comfort Inn in Cordova, Veracruz.
Day 6: Puebla to Puerto Angel
Total Distance: 372.20 miles/599 kms
Total Time: 11 hours
Post Trip Recaps & Highlights – Mission, Texas to Puerto Angel, Mexico
Total Distance: 877.04 miles/1411.5 kms
Total Time: 25 hours
We used an AMA map to help us on our journey, which caused us some confusion though as they recommended we take a relatively new freeway called the El Arco Del Norte from Quertaro to bypass Mexico City. This freeway did not start from Quertaro but quite a bit further South only about a 100 km North of Mexico City. If you wish to shorten your driving days and opt for a 3-day journey you can stay in San Luis Potosi, where there is a nice Courtside Marriot Hotel to stay at.
Travel Tip #9 – Cash for Tolls – Once you arrive in Mexico it is important to obtain enough cash (pesos not American) for the toll roads that you will be driving on. Tolls that we drove through ranged from $30 to $200 per toll.
We traveled onward and due South on the 185 through Veracruz and into Oaxaca down to the coast where we hit the 200 and our last leg of the trip. This is the only section that is not double lane the entire way. There are parts of the road that are twinned though.
Travel Tip # 10 – Pack a few extra jugs of bug wash with you. Gas stations do not sell it. Most gas jockeys will clean your windows and gas stations are plentiful but extra bug wash will come in handy
A quick stop at the Super Che in Huatulco to fill up our fridge and cupboards. The Super Che is a Costco style store that you may find great cuts of beef and import liquor and other bulk items.
The 200 hwy is a windy coastal highway and quite a beautiful drive. You will find canopies of greenery over the highway and lots to look at. We arrived in Puerto Angel a little late on Day 6 after grocery shopping and a nice meal in Huatulco.
Travel Tip # 11 – Some Mexico highways do not have emergency lanes. Be sure to slow down on all roads with uneven shoulders.
It was a beautiful drive but we are quite happy to be here. Getting here was quite easy due to the Super Highways connecting Canada, the USA and Mexico. – 6 days of driving and roughly 6000 KM’s. We are happy to share more so stay tuned and come see for yourself why Canadian couples seeking a peaceful, tranquil, laid back lifestyle are choosing the Oaxaca (Wa-Ha-Ka) Coast. Making Mexico our own.
Erin and I are now feeling settled after being back in our Mexico home for a little over a month. It has been an exciting start to the sales season but this day was a break from work. Paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling. I can honestly say I LOVE my job, wife and life and feel grateful I am able to live it in the two great countries of Canada and Mexico. -
Follow our travel guide from Canada driving though Mexico to the Center of the Oaxaca Coast.
Erin and I, with our home Viewpoint in the background. We are truly enjoying our Mexico adventure. Find out why two Canadians like us picked Viewpoint at Puerto Angel to be our home. – Small town feeling, authentic Mexico, many beautiful beaches, consistent 30 degree weather and a low cost of living made it an easy decision.
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