Driving in Mexico: From Michigan to Brownsville, TX to Yucatan!

Driving in Mexico has much improved since our 1981 trip. Driving in Mexico was made much easier by the construction of bridges outside of the many small towns and villages found along the rivers. Prior to the bridges the traveler had to drive onto a ferry/barge and cross the river.

On our 1981 road trip we began preparing well in advance. Our 1981 Pontiac Bonneville diesel was freshly broken in and was a comfortable car for the four of us. We bought a case of “Fix a Flat” in cans, had the dealer inspect the car one more time, and went to our AAA agent for a flip map of driving directions to Mexico. Little did we know that the maps were outdated! We loaded the car up with our luggage and a tool box of basic tools that I thought we might need and left town at 1:00 pm on that Friday.

Being young, and probably foolish, we drove all of Friday and Saturday stopping only for the usual road trip reasons and arrived at the Mexican border at Brownsville/Motomoros at midnight. Crossing the border at that time of night proved uneventful. We received our visas and our all important car permit sticker and off we went trying to follow our AAA maps.

There appeared to be a festival going on in Motomoros and before leaving town we stopped at a PEMEX gas station to fuel up and get some basic supplies. Our only concern prior to all of this was that we didn’t know how expensive diesel fuel would be. We knew that gasoline was cheap but knew nothing of the price of diesel.


Don't forget to read this article on Mexican auto insurance! Make sure you know what your insurance requirements are before you really have to!



One of the most difficult things we encountered on that trip was that the Bonneville looked like a Mexican Caprice and getting an attendant to stop waving us over to the gas pump and get him to come over to the diesel pump was often difficult. I invariably had to point to the diesel emblem to convince them to put diesel into the car.

Our first fill-up was a surprise. The price of diesel, at that time was 16 cents per gallon and it cost us a whopping $3.00 USD. Being a bit of a practical joker, and knowing that we were concerned about what the price might be, I went to the window, and with a shocked look on my face, I really was shocked, I told my then Yucateca wife Ana, “OMG You won’t believe the price”. Fearing the worst she asked me how much it was. I smiled and asked her for $40 pesos which included a tip. We laughed the rest of the way to Merida.

The price has since gone up and the Mexican government is trying to cover its social program through the price of gas as it has done in the past but it is still much cheaper than in the US.

We headed into the dark and arrived in a small town called San Fernando. We rented a room and looked forward to a nights rest. The car after two days of driving in Mexico was so covered with bugs and dirt I had wondered if the car was ever going to look the same again.

Upon awaking before anyone else, I went out to check the car and was surprised to see that during the morning the car had been completely washed and waxed.

Got ya! You thought something bad didn’t you. I looked around and there were a group of boys with all of their cleaning supplies and turtle wax patiently waiting for us to come out. I happily asked them how much I owed them and they just shrugged their shoulders.

I paid them $25.00 USD and they left as happy as I was because the one thing I had not had a chance to do prior to leaving was giving the car a good wax job. I hate waxing cars!

We headed out sometime that morning for Veracruz. Following our AAA flip map we were arriving to our first town with a ferry crossing. Just prior to arriving we drove passed a new road that veered to the right that wasn’t on the map. We continued into town following our map to the ferry. The problem was that there no longer was a ferry and the locals directed us back out to that new road and there was a bridge now.

We bought some more road trip supplies, filled up and headed out. This pattern of these new roads and bridges, neither appearing on the maps nor having any road signs, was the same throughout the rest of our trip but we often went into the towns for supplies and to check the towns out. We even found a town that was having an Oktoberfest in June, we thought, but was actually settled by Germans. It truly was a “Time Zone” experience.

Driving in Mexico: Making the Trip Tomorrow!

Enough about that trip because the road conditions are so much better that other than to say it was a beautiful trip would be useless since the road system has been so greatly improved.

Driving in Yucatan can be it's own unique experience! But over the last few years driving in Yucatan has changed dramatically with streamlining and the building of new highways!

Dave’s Incredible Driving in Mexico to Yucatan Website!

My internet friend from Canada, Dave, drives to Chicxulub Yucatan each fall and returns in the spring. He has taken meticulous notes on his trips and has shared it for all of us to use.

He established a website on driving directions to Mexico and if you are planning on driving in Mexico, Dave’s website will take you every step of the way including pictures of tricky turns.

Enough said! Here’s his link.

Driving in Mexico Guide to Yucatan


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Learn more about Mexican auto insurance here!

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