Visit Mexico in RV? Husband says “No.” Wife says “Si.”

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Dear RV Shrink:
My wife wants to go to Mexico with our new motorhome this winter. I am just not comfortable with that idea, plus there is a travel warning issued by the State Department. Is it safe? Should I just put my foot down and tell her we are not going? —Nervous in Nevada

Dear Nervous:
You don’t say what part of Mexico you are thinking about visiting. There are always travel advisories. They actually have different levels on a scale of 1 to 4. Last year Mexico had the highest number of homicides in the country’s history. This year is on track to break that record. Drug cartels and criminal organizations are running rampant throughout the country. You would almost have to surmise that the bad guys control the government in Mexico.


With all that said, millions of Americans go to Mexico every year. If you do the math, the number of incidents is very small. Even with the recent high-profile ambush-style murders of women and children, more than 44 million visitors are expected to visit Mexico this year. That is almost a 6% increase from 2018.

Again, I don’t know where you are headed, but much of the crime is geographically limited. Border towns have some of the highest crime rates, yet millions visit these towns every day.

We just spent a couple weeks at Poncho Villa State Park in New Mexico. Like other years we crossed the border to the town of Palomas. It is like walking into a Third World country, but the food and atmosphere at The Pink Store is the best in Mexico.

We also take care of our eye and dental needs while in town. It is a quarter of the price for the same services in the U.S., plus it’s fast, efficient and very professional. We get our eye exam, pick out frames, go to The Pink Store for lunch, come back and pick up our glasses. It’s that fast and easy.

Last year while I was looking at frames, the girl said, “What are you looking for?” I said, “I just want a pair of glasses that make me look like Brad Pitt.” Without a second’s hesitation she said, “I’m sorry, Sir. We do not sell miracles, only glasses.” Then she felt so bad, she gave me a 20% discount.

Would I drive my motorhome down and stay over night? Not a chance. When you walk through the border crossing you see military and police presence on both sides, but many more weapons on the Mexican side.

The language barrier is another issue. On our return trip this year we were jaywalking across the street to the gate leading back into the U.S. A guy with an automatic weapon kept yelling something to us and pointing to the wall. He wasn’t threatening, but we could not figure out what he wanted us to do. Finally, it dawned on me that he wanted us to go around the long way and stay on the sidewalk. I can say that a long rifle with a large magazine always gets my immediate attention.

My advice would be to travel in a group, but many RVers travel all over Mexico alone. It comes down to your comfort level.

If you are thinking about heading for any number of popular RV destinations, you most likely will have no problems. Just don’t jaywalk! —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

 ##RVT922

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Charles B

We have taken our motorhome and toad to Mexico almost every winter for the past 13 years. Prior to that many other trips to Mexico. First RV trip was in 1971. Seems every time we go people tell us we are surely going to die. We have never had one single problem in Mexico and are often there for up to 6 months at a time. Isolated incidents happen. The recent slaughter of Americans happened to residents and not tourists. The people had a long history with the cartels. Not to excuse the slaughter but things like this almost never happen to tourists. Most of the killings in Mexico are bad guys killing other bad guys. All that said – travel in Mexico is not for everyone and is not like travel in the US. Special permits and insurance are required. Some roads are in bad shape (just like in the US). Research is required and there are websites that can offer lots of help. Learning a bit of Spanish is always helpful (we only know a little but we seem to get by). RV parks are few and far between and can be difficult to find. More research is required. All that said – there are amazing things to be found in Mexico. We visit ancient ruins with pyramids larger than those in Egypt. We visit cathedrals built almost 500 years ago. Colonial cities with interesting architecture. Villages where people specialize in lots of different arts & crafts – pottery – weaving – metal work – it is all interesting. These days there are fuel stops everywhere – gasoline or diesel. The food is great and cheap. So is the beer. There are many misconceptions about Mexico that have been around for a very long time. The Mexican people are very friendly and welcoming. We have enjoyed all our visits. Best to learn a little more about where you are going before you get there.

rick louderbough

I live in New Mexico and will never travel to old Mexico. I have in the past, but I choose to not accept that level of risk, asking for trouble as it were.

Carson Axtell

There are plenty of places in America I would never want to walk. And the general impression in much of the rest of the civilized world is that America is a dangerous place to visit because of the fact that we are awash in guns and seem to have another mass shooting every other week… It’s been years since I’ve been in Mexico, but my impression is that rural and smaller cities, especially in states like Baja, are friendly and easy going and that the people are as good and welcoming as Americans.

Diane Mc

Only experienced Mexico, by RV, once. That was enough. First incident crossing border. My husband had bought a new TV for my birthday and had it wrapped and sitting on the bed in back (this was years ago with an older RV). A Mexican border agent came on board, went to the back and sat on our bed. That was rude. Spoke to us in Spanish, we knew a few words, not enough to converse. Had no idea what he wanted. Finally, frustrated he left. Why they don’t require bilingual with all the Americans crossing border is beyond me. Then on way down to San Felipe, soldiers appeared with their guns. Again, they spoke no English. We were stuck for awhile trying to figure out what they wanted. Eventually let us go. The best was on the way home. They had a checkpoint on the highway and were pulling everyone over. We were in a panic because they were pulling everyone over to side of road where it was just sand. We tried to politely tell them we were afraid we would get stuck. Didn’t work. We got stuck. In our 34ft motorhome/towing. My husband actually tried to pull us out using our tow vehicle in reverse. Didn’t work. Then, over the hill, comes a military humvee. Hooked us up and pulled us out. At least they looked somewhat embarrassed. We did go back, but with flying and with friends who had timeshare, just south of Acapulco. Found out after we arrived, that the week prior, the Mega store (like a giant Walmart) nearby had a shootout in the parking lot at the store. So, that was it for me. My position is if we all stopped going just maybe someone would come along that would put a stop (of course not totally) to the corruption in the government and the Cartels. But as long as we all show up and spend money, they have no incentive to do anything. And if anyone thinks I sound like the Ugly American. I have Hispanic nephews, niece in law, all whom I love dearly. And our favorite food is Mexican. Living in San Jose, we have some of the best.

Marilyn M

We live 2 hours south of the border in Baja California, in San Felipe. It is an awesome place to live &/or visit. We have travelled the highway 100’s of times between Mexicali and here – never a problem. Our many friends and their friends have never had a problem.
If you are travelling down the west side of Baja or south of San Felipe you better have good nerves. The roads are narrow without any shoulders! Many, many people do it but my husband, who has driven semi’s in the past, has said that he would NOT take our 5th-wheel down as he is scared/worried that the siding of it would be mangled at the end of the trip because of the width (or lack of) the lanes and road conditions.
As for anything, if you are looking for trouble you will find it. The homicide rate down here is horrendous but I’d say that about 85% of it is between the cartel – the other 15% are the norm. If you compare the actual numbers between cities in USA the rate here is actually lower!
Just be aware of your surroundings.

Zoom

A Latino friend of mine that does landscaping spends 6 months here and 6 months in Mexico. He offered for my wife and I a place to stay for a couple of weeks when he goes back and I was seriously thinking about it until he told me he was flying this time instead of driving his truck. He said he didn’t want to get it stolen! Makes me think twice!

Tommy Molnar

My “comfort level” for Mexico is ZERO! As Ron stated – “No way, Jose”! Though I must say, I’ve heard nothing but good about the dental and eye care facilities, aimed directly AT Americans who walk across the border.

Patrick Granahan

Considering the mass slaughter of an American family just this past month and the fire that destroyed their SUV I find it unbelievable that any intelligent person would consider Mexico as a tourist destination. Your RV would make one spectacular fire and drug cartel BBQ.
I might also add the Dominican Republic to that list…not quite a RV destination as it shares an island with Haiti (another dangerous destination).
The Mexican government is corrupt…is now and always has been.

Ronl

No way Jose! Just not worth the risk. Crime, bad roads, lack of proper fuel, questionable RV service facilities should you need them; the list goes on and on. We have been to many different parts of Mexico over the years and while there are still many quaint, charming places to visit there, an RV is not the best choice for travel in Mexico currently. Foot down is my vote.