What to Expect When RVing in Mexico

We would be lying if we didn’t say we were nervous about RVing in Mexico initially. Neither of us had ever visited Mexico before, so choosing to hop into our RV and hit the road across mainland Mexico was a big decision. We tried to prepare for our RV trip as best as possible, planning potential routes, watching Youtube videos of others RV travels to Mexico, and reading all of the blog posts we could find, but there were still a lot of unknowns about what to expect when RVing in Mexico.

However, after four months and over 1,900 miles, we have fully immersed ourselves into RV life in Mexico and feel very comfortable with the realities of RVing here. If you’re planning on RVing in Mexico for the first time here’s what to expect before you go.

why rv Mexico?

Mexico is an incredibly diverse country with so much to offer in terms of history, culture, food, and natural wonders. Just as each state of the United States or Canada has something unique to offer, Mexico’s 31 diverse states will show you completely new side of Mexico that go far beyond their famous beaches. Mexico is has 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is home to many of the world’s oldest ancient civilizations, the Olmec, the Aztec, Toltec, and Mayan cultures.

You can explore cenotes, relax in hot springs, paddle to waterfalls, visit floating gardens created by the Aztec, see the Monarch butterfly migration, visit ancient Aztec or Mayan ruins, snorkel in world famous coral reefs, go whale watching, learn about the ancient art of making tequila and mezcal, and eat incredible food

RVing in Mexico is also cheap by comparison. While some costs like fuel and tolls roads will be far greater in Mexico than in the US or Canada, in general the Canadian or US dollar will go farther here. Mexico has a low cost of living making things like eating out at restaurants, buying groceries, or going on excursions very affordable.

is Mexico safe to RV?

Without a doubt the biggest concern most people have about RVing to Mexico is safety. It’s a fair concern considering Mexico’s notorious crime rate and highly reported cartel activity. However, in general, the country as a whole is a relatively safe place. Just as there are places in the United States or Canada that you might want to avoid because of crime, there are places in Mexico that are a good idea to avoid as well.

Certain cities and towns, especially along the border, are known for increased crime directly related to cartel activity. While not always the case, most crimes reported are largely related to cartel or people engaging in illegal activity. While the murder rate in Mexico is much higher than the US, you’re actually 3 times more likely to experience some type of crime in the United States, than in Mexico. Keep in mind that as Mexico is a major tourist destination that had over 45 million foreign visitors in 2019 alone. Tourists are more likely to be victims of opportunistic and non-violent crimes like:

  • gas station scams, where the attendant doesn’t clear the pump charging you extra for fuel you didn’t use.
  • pickpocketing or someone breaking into your vehicle.

Crime happens in Mexico just as it happens everywhere. If you are aware of your surroundings and make smart choices, travel during the day, stay on toll roads when possible, and avoid engaging in illegal activity you reduce the chance of being a victim. During our trip across the country we had nothing but positive experience, and found most locals looked out for us reminding us if our phone was in an obvious or easy location to snatch or telling us what areas to stay away from.

campgrounds in Mexico

Campgrounds in Mexico are nothing like campgrounds in the United States or Canada. There are very few RV parks and most established RV parks don’t offer the amenities or standards were accustomed to. Many hotels, marinas, or even tourist attractions across the country will offer RV camping with established spots with electricity, water, or sewer although hotels are by far the most popular option. We spent as little as $5 to camp in some spots and as much as $20 per night, with $10 USD per night being the average. Monthly rates will be much cheaper, even beach front sites, costing around $350 – $450 for the month.

Electricity is very inconsistent, and honestly rather dangerous. We have yet to find an RV park that offers 30 amp service. Many places advertise electricity, but it’s always 15 amp service and if there are multiple people there it’s rarely usable since most of the time they are on one circuit. Additionally, most electrical boxes don’t have a ground, which can cause “hot skin” where your RV becomes the ground for the electrical circuit — which if you haven’t guessed, is not good. Having a quality solar set up will make your life much more comfortable. It’s also a good idea to RV here when there is moderate weather (November – March), because most places will not have electricity suitable enough to run your A/C.

Most “established” RV parks will offer potable water which is safe for washing dishes, brushing teeth, showering, but not drinking and sewer. The sewer could be a hole in the ground or an established dumping area.

If you prefer to free camp or dry camp, iOverlander shares safe locations other travelers have stayed it with helpful tips to plan your stay like cost or if it was guarded or not. We opted to stay at formal RV parking spots in our first trip just for safety and comfort although we know of others that almost always free camped.

caravan vs solo rv trip

To caravan or not to caravan, that is the question. Caravans, which are organized group of RVers traveling to a preset destinations or locations, are extremely popular method of RVing in Mexico. Many first time travelers to Mexico choose to go with a caravan because it creates a sense of safety, and takes a lot of the guesswork and unknowns out of the equation. A caravan tour group will take care of all camping reservations, have a pre-determined route and will lead you exactly where to go, and can help translate or communicate with locals if you don’t speak the language. There are numerous caravan tour groups to choose from which can cost anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000 all going to different destinations throughout the country.

Some caravans will drive to one location and stay there for a season, while others will continuously travel to new destinations.  This can be a great way to see the country, especially if you’re not comfortable with the idea of solo travel — but I personally find this method of RVing Mexico as restrictive. You only see the set destinations on the agenda, and are limited to the time they allocate to explore each place. It takes away a lot of the spontaneity and wonder travel usually brings.

The other option is to travel solo or in a smaller group. We originally came into Mexico with two fellow full time RVers, with our own self made caravan which was really nice for our first time. It was great to have others to relax and enjoy the beautiful sights and to digest everything we were experiencing. We were far less restricted only being three of us and had the freedom to create our own personalized route. With that said, we were still in a group which still leads to restrictions.

Now having some experiencing RVing in Mexico, I would feel more than comfortable and confident to RV here on our own on future trips. It really comes down to who you are as an RVer and what your comfort level is. While caravan’s may seem like an appealing option, if you don’t like traveling in groups take the time to plan your own route or gather your own small caravan as an alternative.

what to expect driving in mexico

Driving in Mexico is interesting to say the least. There is a robust highway system that allows you to get around the country easily and safely. However road conditions will vary. We’ve experienced wonderful freshly paved highways and poorly maintained roads that made our entire RV vibrate. Tolls roads are the safest and typically nicest way to travel, but it’s expensive. Tolls can cost anywhere from $10 – $25 per toll with several toll stops in one drive. While we covered a lot of ground in our first month RVing, we spent $226 on tolls alone. Gasoline and diesel is also more expensive here, so plan to increase your budget for these costs prior to coming here.

If you’re looking for a detailed guide on what it’s like driving in Mexico you can read more here.

Planning your rv trip to mexico

There is no denying RVing in Mexico is very different than RVing in the United States and traveling here by RV is not for the faint of heart — but it is an incredible adventure with so much to explore, see, eat, and do!

If you’re serious about taking a trip to Mexico continue to do your research on where to go, where to avoid, how to prepare. Our blog and our Mexico #RVamigos YouTube playlist is a great resource. We show you not only our experience and perspective of RVing Mexico, but also have videos from the two other travelers we went with. Join groups on Facebook or other social media platforms with others who have traveled Mexico by RV or car. My biggest tip however, is to not let people who have not gone nor would ever go scare you out of going. A lot of people have opinions about traveling to Mexico, especially in an RV. Don’t let their naivety or fears drive your decisions. Do your research, make a plan, and go explore!

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Liz & Dennis

Liz & Dennis

ESRV Team

We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!

 

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