Planning on driving down into the Baja peninsula this season? Good call. Hopefully we have been able to tempt you into coming to the beautiful little oasis town of Mulege. Here are our top tips:
Bring your valid passport and get your tourist card or FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). You can purchase the card online or at the border. Regardless of how you purchase it, the FMM will need to be stamped at the INM office. While crossing, there is a good chance you might simply be waived through without stopping or inspected. If you are stopped, chances are very good that the FMM will not be mentioned. Regardless, it is your responsibility to get one. Recently, we have seen multiple reports of immigration checks throughout Baja where you could be subject to fines and jail without valid immigration status. Take a picture of your FMM and passport so you have it on your phone as backup.
Your US or Canadian insurance policy might provide some kind of limited coverage but Mexican liability insurance is required. Plan NOT to go to jail and get covered. We use and recommend Baja Bound.
Internet and Cell Phone
If you don’t post a selfie on the beach did you really even go to Baja? Beyond just wanting to make the folks freezing their butts off back home jealous, connectivity can be vital for those working remotely and keeping in touch. Your existing phone plan, like our Verizon unlimited plan, might already include roaming and a limited amount of data. Check with your provider on coverage. Mexico’s Telcel is a great option if you want to get a local SIM card for your phone. The “Amigo Sin Limite” plans are very inexpensive. For example the “Amigo Sin Límite 150” includes 28 days of service with unlimited voice calls, text, and social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp), and 2GB of high-speed data for less than $8 U.S. You can add two hour sessions of unlimited data for 15 pesos (72 US cents!) as needed for data intensive tasks. Check out the Telcel website for more info and current promotions. Our amigos RV Outlawz did a great post on working remotely and traveling in Baja.
Regardless of your provider be aware that there are large stretches in Baja with no coverage. Every year we see people go “missing” because they are enjoying themselves on a remote offgrid beach while their relatives start freaking out and post panicked messages on Facebook looking from them. Plan ahead and let your friends and family know when you will be offline. Bonus – We have a Garmin InReach Explorer+: Getting off-grid and away from everything is great but it’s good to know help is available worldwide through this two-way satellite communicator and GPS.
The very popular iOverlander app and website has usually reliable and updated reviews of campgrounds, restaurants, and more. The entire database for countries including Mexico can be downloaded for free for offline use. We use the Mexico GPX file with our Garmin Basecamp desktop program and can upload routes and places to our GPS. For our phones, the Maps.Me app is useful for offline mapping with the iOverlander data. The Gaia app can also use the data and is great for off-road exploring.
Google Maps can be handy and we update our offline maps of areas where we expect to lose coverage but word to the wise Google can also attempt to kill you with wildly optimistic drive times and suggest routes that can be risky for cars and downright dangerous for RVs. Always check the suggested route to make sure nothing looks funky.
There are also two Facebook Groups for Mulege – Mulege Newsfeed and MULEGE NEWS. Talk Baja and Talk Baja Road Conditions are large groups for the entire peninsula. The Baja Nomads forum is another useful online resource.
Call us old school but we still like having paper maps in addition to GPS. Benchmark Maps has just released a new Baja California Atlas. The detail is great and its large format is perfect for sharing a cerveza and having a planning discussion with new and old amigos alike.
Contacts and Info
Before you leave on your trip create a document with your info and contacts. Share with friends and family. Here’s a template with the information we share.
Have any questions? What are your tops tips? Let us know in the comments below.
9 Comments to “Top Tips for Traveling to Baja”
great information…thanks a lot!!!!!
Thanks for checking it out.
Hi! Thanks for the tips! Do you guys use a physical GPS, or only a smart phone?
No problema. We have used both but increasingly just phone only. I still look at the iOverlander data and offline maps on my laptop with the Garmin Basecamp application but rarely upload routes to the GPS.
All GREAT advise from someone who has experienced just about everything through years of Baja travel. Thanks Scott!
Good informative page, shared with travelers…;>)
Good article hope to get down your way one of these days. Happy RVIng