Mexico is made for road trips. It’s a massive country with vast, stunning views, varied landscape and endless hidden gems. Now don’t get me wrong, you can totally travel Mexico without a car. However if you’ve got a set of wheels, you’ll have so much more freedom to explore the oft neglected nooks and crannies of this sprawling nation. Plus, who doesn’t like a road trip? Well, one group of people that doesn’t mix well with long distances strapped to a car seat is kids. Yup, if you’re a parent, then traveling by road comes with a whole host of challenges that childless travelers never even dream of.
Having said that, a Mexican road trip is by no means impossible with kids. In fact, it can be a fantastic experience, provided you’re prepared. There are many great tips for traveling with your family we could give you, but here are our top five for Mexico.
Get an actual map
Google maps is great, but nothing beats a solid hard copy, especially in Mexico. Even today, some of the more isolated areas of Mexico aren’t particularly well covered by online maps. GuiaRoji maps are known to be reliable, and are a great compliment to whatever you’ve got on your smart phone. Having a reliable map is super important because …
Gas stations are scarce
Mexico is a major oil producing nation, and state oil firm Pemex also happens to be one of the biggest petroleum companies in the world. It might come as a surprise then that gas stations can be few and far between, especially in rural areas. Everyday, you absolutely must plan out where you’ll be filling up, and ensure you always have a backup plan in case a station is closed.
Stock up on toys, and make the car comfortable
So, we’ve established that a road trip in Mexico is going to involve a lot of long stretches of driving. Because of this, you’ll need to pull out all the stops to make the car kid friendly. Along with the obvious stockpile of toys, snacks and music, you should also try to find ways to give the kids their own space. That doesn’t just mean making sure they have leg space, but rather, a space they can call their own. This is relatively easy in an RV, but can be harder in a smaller vehicle. Either way, kids are infinitely less irritable when they have a little spot they can call home.
Get decent snacks
A note on snacks: if you’re relying on gas stations and the omnipresent Oxxo convenience stores for munchies, then you’re going to have a terrible trip. Sugary, salty junk food will leave your kids, dehydrated, hyperactive and just generally terrible to travel with. Do yourself a favor and stock up on healthier options like fruit and trail mix. As for drinks, in Mexico there’s no excuse for resorting to soda. Fresh fruit juice is dirt cheap and readily available, and can usually be purchased by the liter from street-side vendors.
Be prepared for delays
Accept that everything will take longer than you expect in Mexico. If you take the toll roads, expect queues. If you take the free roads, expect potholes and long detours. If you cross state lines, expect police roadblocks. If you travel to Oaxaca, expect protesting teachers to block roads. If you travel to Chiapas, expect an endless onslaught of the dreaded topes (speed bumps every few meters). You get the point – you will have delays, and lots of them. Just be prepared, make sure the kids are occupied, and it’ll all be part and parcel of the trip.