One of the many perks of living in Southern California is having an international border crossing right down the street from us. So, when we need to scratch our travel itch but don’t have the means to jump on a plane and traverse the globe, there’s an adventure waiting for us just a few miles south.
Once your passport is packed and you’re ready to head south, here is a flexible 3-day itinerary to follow to make sure you see and experience as much as you can.
The Otay Mesa border crossing from San Diego and Tijuana is one of busiest international borders in the world, with over 300,000 people passing into Mexico each day. Before packing the car to the brim and heading south, there are a few logistics to plan out first.
All photos by Eagle Creek Ambassador, Ben Horton.
Driving in Mexico
Sure, you can fly, take a cab, or even walk across the border. But taking your own car filled with friends and snacks is the way to go to maximize freedom and flexibility. The roads and laws of Mexico are similar to that of the US, but it’s best to have maps, GPS, and planned destinations before crossing the border.
If it’s your first time driving into Tijuana, I would recommend studying up a bit on the map so you know where you’re going. Unless you have an international plan on your phone, you’ll lose service once you get in Tijuana. So, either make sure you have maps printed or buy the added international service for the few days. If you’re heading out on some roads for your first time, I would highly recommend having cell service for GPS navigation.
It’s also useful to purchase Mexican car insurance, which is an add-on to your domestic plan, since your standard plan probably does not cover any incidents in Mexico. This insurance can be purchased online ahead of time here or at many of the car insurance offices in San Ysidro, just north of the border. International insurance coverage usually costs about $20-$30/day.
Depending on where you are going, expect some dirt roads, sand, etc. so an all-wheel drive or 4x4 vehicle is definitely useful, especially the further south you head. (Note: Most rental car companies do not allow you to take a rental into Mexico, however Budget Rental Car does, as long as you purchase the Mexican insurance.)