On Tuesday we will start making our way to Cuyutlan, Mexico where we have rented a house for the next 6 months.
Our main hesitation in choosing Mexico as our winter destination was the security (or lack of) around the Mexico/USA boarder. We read about it for weeks, asked friends and friends-of-friends and finally decided that the risks actually seem relatively low. Although there is a lot of crime in this area, the percentage that touches people who are not either related to the drug trade or out roaming around late at night is small (similar to any American city).
With the decision already made that we are going, it leaves us with the route planning. It is important that we are not driving at night and try to stay as much on the highways as possible. We want to have our stops planned in avance (especially traveling with the dog!), but there are a few ways we could go.
The most important part of the whole trip is making sure were are getting distance between us and the boarder zone, but still not sleeping near it. It seems that the “game” of crossing the Mexican boarder and trouble zones is to try to do it as quickly as possible.
From Houston – where we are now – to Cuyutlan it is 1845km or 19h 45 min (google…god what did we do without google?).
Our first stop will be Cotulla, Texas on Tuesday. It is about 4hrs from Houston. We want to get close enough to the boarder to be able to cross early in the morning (apparently boarder crossing and immigration can take anywhere from 45min to 5hrs). Thats pretty normal for any boarder crossing in my experience.
The second stop is our biggest decision as it will change our route depending on what we pick. We’ll probably just take down some dog-friendly hotels and decide once we are in Mexico. It will either be:
Zacatecas: 7h 20 from the boarder, but shorter road to Guadalajara. If it is smooth at the boarder this is our better pick. Further from the trouble zones and closer to our destination. Plus Zacatecas is a UNESCO world heritage site (see picture above – credit to areoMexico) and a place I would like to see.
Matehuala: 5h 45 from the boarder, but extra hour the next day to Guadalajara. Plus not as interesting to see… However, if we do get stopped 5 hrs at the boarder, this would make sense as a “lets just get to a hotel in daylight” place.
We’d like to then get to Guadalajara (about 6hrs) early the next day. Just outside Guadalajara, we have already reserved a little BnB that accepts dogs for 2 nights and might add on a 3rd depending on how we are feeling. Guadalajara is Mexico’s 2nd largest city and supposed to be very unique to discover. It is a student city that is full of culture, events and a beautiful historic downtown. We are there during the “Festival de la Cerveza” and I’d like to drop by.
No matter what way we choose, by October 19th all the driving will be done and we will be in our new home!
Originally when we talked about doing this trip we also were considering Asia, Europe and Hawaii as options for where we would like to go explore. There advantages for mexico though (same time-zone as our business, easy flights in/out for visitors, spanish, relatively cheap, etc), but probably one of the main draws for us was the idea of a “road-trip”. I liked the idea of the freedom to go wherever we wanted.
However the last advantage that I was expecting was that $1500 in gas would be cheaper than $4000+ in plane tickets. But an important number missing in this logic is the car maintenance required to do a 20,000km road-trip.
To fix our car up to go, we have bought new tires that are good in high heat ($750), new shocks/front brakes ($600), added tinted windows ($250), did the carpet cleaning ($150) and changed the broken radio ($180).
Now in Dartmouth, we decided to do an oil change, alinement, and get a general check-up. Which turned out to be the ball joint and wheel bearings…geez! Another $800. However, we do notice a nice difference in the way the car drives, so at least it feels like it was worth it.
While at it, we decided to replace the head-lights (since we’ll be driving 20,000km) and wipers ($60).
I think by now we could have came close to getting the 4 of us to Hawaii!
So my road-trip lesson 1: probably not cheaper than flying.