Travelling to Mexico and Away
It’s a good drive down from the US and you’ll get to see humanity at its worst in the sleazy border towns of Tijuana and Mexicali. Most Americans don’t get any further and in truth it’s a long old two day journey down to Mexico City. It’s possibly a good escape route though if you’ve overstayed your American visa and plan on returning some time.
Flights from the US are around $300-400 return.
Very cheap flights to Mexico can be found from Europe, especially England if you get a charter deal from say http://www.cheapflights.co.uk – you could get a return for as low as $200-250.
Flying out of Mexico can be pricey though and don’t forget that there’s a 28 dollar departure tax when you go.
Heading south Mexico has borders with Belize and Guatemala. The most popular route into Guatemala is heading south from San Cristobal in a van to the border two hours away. It’s also possible to cross from the Yucatan by heading to Chetumal.
Belize is an easy journey heading south from Tulum in the Yucatan.
Travelling Around Mexico
Buses in Mexico are often more expensive than buses in the US or Europe. It seems insane that a country with so many poor should be so prohibitively expensive to travel around but there it is. Mexico is no longer the cheap backpacker’s paradise it once was.
There are various bus companies, with a few to choose from in most regions so compare prices and timings and make sure they suit you. There are also second class buses which often run from another bus terminal – these can be a great deal or they can mean breaking your journey into several parts. Again, work out what suits you on the spot.
Mexican buses often come supplied with freezing air conditioning. You can go from sweltering temperatures outside to an ice bucket and, if you’re dressed in shorts and t-shirt, you’ll probably have pneumonia by the time you arrive. Carry a blanket and some socks for the bus journeys, they can be life savers on long trips.
And, just to let you know that Mexico isn’t a third world country any more, the buses come supplied with TV sets and the latest Hollywood movies dubbed into Spanish or, if you’re lucky, only with subtitles.
There are only trains in the North of Mexico and these pass through some beautiful territory, making any difference in price quite worth the traveler’s while.
Mexico is pretty large and, as buses are so expensive, it’s often cheaper to fly from somewhere like Cancun to Mexico City than to go overland. Prices vary according to the season like in most places.
With bus prices so high hitchhiking is one of the only ways that many Mexicans can get around. It’s often expected that the traveler should give some cash to the driver to help with the gas – especially if you happen to be a rich gringo!
Cheap and efficient in most places and a good opportunity to make some cash like the Mexicans do by unstrapping your guitar and playing “Besame mucho” for spare change. Mexicans also come on to sell things like torches or lighters, often at good prices. Long live the free market.
Some routes are served only by the good old collective taxi in the shape of the mini bus. These are quick and reliable but you have to tell the driver where you want to stop.
Taxis are fairly cheap in Mexico though in Mexico City you’re best off not taking them in the street – too many travelers and Mexicans have been subjected to el viaje de millionario (the millionaire’s ride), an expression that comes from Colombia. Phone for a taxi whenever possible in D.F or take one from a hotel or restaurant.
In the rest of the country taxis are perfectly safe though.