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Old 11-30-2007, 07:38 PM   #1
tamaro OP
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planning a trip to mexico!!!

so my friend and i are planning a month (maybe two) long trip through mexico and some of america. we'll be leaving from denver early march and taking i 25 (turns into 10) through new mexico and texas down to corpus christi. then we're crossing into mexico and heading down into the gulf coast to belize. we plan to stay in belize for a week or so and then head north, around gautemala, then cut over to the pacific coast. from there we will head up the coast until we eventually reach portland. he's staying in portland and i will make my way back to denver, staying in salt lake for a few days on the way. we will most likely stop at some obvious places such as cancun, acapulco, puerto vallarta, and maybe one of the cenotes south of cancun.
i have a 1997 honda shadow vt1100 shadow spirit
he has a 1983 honda magna vf1100
my questions are these?
how much dirt road will we encounter? do we NEED enduro tires or will we be okay with street tires?
what should the expected distance be between gas stations?
how safe is it to camp between towns down there? (sleeping bags and mosquito nets)
what are some good landmarks/towns that are a must see? mayan ruins maybe?
what are some towns that two non spanish fluent gringos should avoid?
what are some items that are a must have for the trip? what items should we avoid taking? (weapons and such)
anything else i may have not thought of?
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Old 11-30-2007, 10:01 PM   #2
Jamie Z
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There is a ton of information already here. Do a search for "Mexico" and read for days. Your questions imply that you didn't make the effort to educate yourself. That will be your biggest liability in Mexico.

Based on your questions, it sounds like you're a little nervous--and that's not unusual. Just know that going to Mexico is like going pretty much anywhere in the US, except they don't always speak English. The roads are generally pretty good, dirt and gravel aren't common unless you're seeking them out. Unlike the US, people drive lots of Fords and Chevys. Crime and danger is basically the same as any place in the US. You can shop at Walmart and have a coffee at Starbucks if you want. Road signs can be a little confusing.

The area around Cancun is very desolate. I opted not to go there mostly because by road, it's really far out of the way of most anything else, and from what I could see, you're very nearly forced to travel on a cuota highway, which are both expensive and boring. Much like the US interstate system. I travel to see stuff, not to drone down a mindless highway. Also, Cancun is a purpose-built tourist town.

I camped all over. Again, do a search for "Camping in Mexico." I rarely had a problem finding someplace to pitch a tent, just like in the US.

Food is cheap, if you look. Gas is the same price everywhere (except in the US border zone). Mexicans are very cool... get to know some of them.

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Old 12-01-2007, 06:08 AM   #3
SixFiddy
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Funny, we leave tomorrow to do the exact loop you are doing, only backwards!

We leave from Calgary, Ab, Canada (a brutal -18 right now) and head to a much warmer Vancouver Island where we have wisely stored the bikes until we depart, this coming Tuesday morning and plan on being on the road for a minimum of 4 months.

We are going down through Seattle, Oregon, coastal highways, down to the Mex. border, Baja, ferry over to Mazatlan, down, down, over, over, through the Yucatan, Belize, swing into Guatemala, turn the wheels north, head up mainland Mexico, do Copper canyon (look this up, it is an apparent must do on a bike, after doing some research, I can't imagine passing by this place), then up through Texas, up up up.. you get the gist.

However, we are purposely staying off the main highways. We don't want to be part of the gringo rushes to the typical spots so we may be of no value for you's. We are also tenting the majority of the trip. We have packed:

1 tent, 1 "mantis" a waterproof meshy tent tall enough to stand up in, but packs amazingly small to use as our kitchen/bathing area (check it out at www.mec.ca), 2 sleeping mats/bags, 2 pair of shorts/cargo pants (each), some undies, some socks and a towel each, a sierra stove (amazing little stoves for bike travel - NO fuel needed, look em up), camping pots set, usual toiletries, a laptop, camera, gps and a few dishes..oh, and some tinfoil wrap. Spare tubes for the tires and a tire pluggin' kit too. That be it.

We loaded up the bikes a few months back, got "lost" on the bikes in the Canadian Rockies on purpose and made a list of what we used... the above list is what we came up with. Compression bags (good quality ones), one for clean laundry, one for very used laundry quickly became our friends dually acting as a dust barrier while allowing us to pack our soft cloth goods into a lump a bit smaller than our heads - and in the end found we still had ample room in our paniers for gifts and treasures to carry with us until we can send them home.

Turns out after months of anticipating what to expect, the right time to leave, do we really have our arses covered, have we done enough research?? I realized that once things are packed, all that one should do is GO! Have fun researching, but don't think too much. Pack what fits your travel style, even overpack if you wish as you can always send 'er home, but don't overplan, point your wheel where you want to go, then go! These days, no matter where you are going, you will not be the first foreigner to show up. It isn't like the old days when dudes on bikes were the explorers. Gringo's have saturated the nooks and cranny's, remember, you are just another one passing through!

Lesson learned: Don't rely on the "come stay with us links" on here. I have sent out numerous notes detailing what our plan is and can we really tent on your suggested space and not ONE person got back to me. It's all fun and games to offer - until someone really asks I guess.

Suggestion: Go to a dollar store and load up on cheap pencils, erasers, stickers (steekers to the local children) and other small trinkets that cost you nothing, but may make you more than welcome in a small village. Hand them out when passing through, you will make friends and this may prove valuble!

I will be detailing the trip as current as possible on a blog if you wish to follow. Just ask.

Cheers!
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:15 PM   #4
mattmexico
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Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
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I do live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico - south of Cancun and did the round trip in March.

my questions are these?
how much dirt road will we encounter? do we NEED enduro tires or will we be okay with street tires?
- no dirt road unless you want to, street tires are fine

what should the expected distance be between gas stations?
- never more then 150 miles

how safe is it to camp between towns down there? (sleeping bags and mosquito nets)
- camp sites available, ask landowners if they allow you to camp

what are some good landmarks/towns that are a must see? mayan ruins maybe?
- Playa del Carmen, Merida, Bacalar, Tikal and camp on Tikal grounds, Flores, Antigua, Lago Atitlan, Chichicastenango, San Cristobal de las Casas, Canon de Sumidores ... on the south end of your loop

what are some towns that two non spanish fluent gringos should avoid?
- none, just smile, take your sun glasses of when talking to police, try not to bribe

what are some items that are a must have for the trip? what items should we avoid taking? (weapons and such)
- take no weaons, if you carry a knife make it small, bring flash light, bring color pencils for kids

anything else i may have not thought of?[/quote]
- bring time

greetings
Matt
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Old 12-04-2007, 04:17 PM   #5
tamaro OP
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i appreciate the replies. they've been quite helpful in answering some questions. if anybody else has any other suggestions i'd love to hear them as well.

also, one more question. what would be an acceptable bank roll for this trip? i believe i will have two thousand dollars at my disposal, give or take. will this be enough to cover the entire trip?
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Old 12-04-2007, 05:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamaro
................
also, one more question. what would be an acceptable bank roll for this trip? i believe i will have two thousand dollars at my disposal, give or take. will this be enough to cover the entire trip?
$2,000...? Some where between 20 and 60 days.

I think you'll have more fun by staying in the different towns, rather than camping away from the population. The country and the people are what it's all about...the experiences. Your housing costs w/roommate would range from $5 to $20 per night, per person, depending on where you stay. This is the cheap end. Some preplanning before the trip and during the trip can save you a bunch. No need for reservations, but arriving at a location when you can still make choices will make a difference.

Figure fuel at $3 per gal. Only you know how many miles you'll run. Tires are cheaper in the US than Mex. Tires can be found cheap in Guatemala.

Belize will be the most expensive country you visit, probably including the USA.
Guatemala will be the least expensive country you visit.

I personally like the Yucatan, and although it doesn't offer a lot of geographical diversity (big-ass bush jungle), there's a lot of life and history there. Cancun is Tourist Trap del Mundo and the most successful Fonatur project, ever, ever. The translation for Cancun: Give me your money. There are real beach towns (not so expensive and tourist-ridden) and also the faux tourist traps in the Yucatan. Pick your poison...

You can run pavement (of many types) almost the entire way. Part of the road from the Belize border over to Tikal in Guatemala is still unpaved...and slicker than horse snot when wet. Just pick your day, and the weather. All other main highways, except for construction zones as mentioned, are paved.

Read some guide books, read stuff on the Net, get some ideas and plans...and go have fun. You're going to make it up as you go as you get further into the trip.

If you hang around stupid people and do stupid things, stupid things will happen to you. As you squueze the helmet over your head each day when going for a ride, don't remove your brain....
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:14 PM   #7
Tama's Tigre
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lone Rider
I personally like the Yucatan, and although it doesn't offer a lot of geographical diversity (big-ass bush jungle), there's a lot of life and history there. Cancun is Tourist Trap del Mundo and the most successful Fonatur project, ever, ever. The translation for Cancun: Give me your money. There are real beach towns (not so expensive and tourist-ridden) and also the faux tourist traps in the Yucatan. Pick your poison.....
Lone Rider,

What do you think of the Costa Maya, about a 4 hour drive south of Cancun, just n/e of Chetumal and Belize? I hear it got a direct hit last hurricane season, but they're rebuilding... hopefully not too much, as I was initially attracted to this stretch of unspoiled sand because of the lack of deveopment. I've only researched it on the internet... I would like to hear your feedback if you've been there.

Thanks
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Old 12-05-2007, 05:55 AM   #8
Lone Rider
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I liked Manahual, a smallish beach vacation town. Although the beach isn't that wide.
Xcalak, the longest deadend in Mexico, is very small and geared towards diving and fishing.

This is bush country and you can't just cut off the road and find an unspoiled beach when the mood grabs you.

I've not been to Punta Allen.
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:02 AM   #9
tamaro OP
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what about insurance companies? what are some good ones with low rates that have mexican coverage?
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:05 AM   #10
Lone Rider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamaro
what about insurance companies? what are some good ones with low rates that have mexican coverage?
Look in Outer Darkness Regional Forum.
Many answers there for future questions you will have.
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Old 12-05-2007, 07:09 PM   #11
Mika Meyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamaro
what about insurance companies? what are some good ones with low rates that have mexican coverage?
Just researched this topic a few days ago. The consensus seems to be www.mexadventure.com. They even send you a free map of Mexico .
Have fun,
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:39 PM   #12
cptoversteer
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we go to Mexico not too infrequently and have always been happy with Sanborn's....also maps and great support info.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:38 AM   #13
tamaro OP
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BUMP!

still looking for any extra advice some may have on this trip. anything you can think of that i have not.

tamaro screwed with this post 01-25-2008 at 11:47 AM
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