Over the Border We Go

Mexico Border townsCrossing INTO Mexico can be as simple as walking down the street from a US border town into a Mexican border town. As long as your stay is less than 72 hours, you do not need a visa. The easiest way to cross, based on interviewing others is parking on the US side and walking across.  Crossing back INTO the states is more complicated as there are border officials who check passports. It is likely that many in line with you will be American and Canadian retirees sporting new glasses, healthier teeth, prescription medications and/or a bottle of liquor. Prepare to wait in line for an hour or more, especially if you return after noon.  NOTE: A passport IS a legal requirement to re-enter the states.  If you don't want to extend your time being held at the border, don't chance trying to getting back without one.  The process becomes much more involved if you want to drive your vehicle across:  Mexico insurance policy required and a wait of 2 to 3 hours on your way back in.

1 Liter of Alcohol Permittes without Taxes 

LIQUOR:  You can bring one liter of alcohol per person into the US without paying any taxes on it, and most border towns have many liquor stores that sell liquor inexpensively.  

Brand Name and Generic Drugs at Discount Prices 
MEDICATION:  You can purchase prescription medication without a prescription in Mexico and legally bring in up to 50 dosages as long as it is an approved FDA drug (i.e., not an illegal narcotic.)  There are many pharmacies ('farmacias') in Mexican border towns that sell both brand name and generic prescription medications for a fraction of their cost in the US.  Usually the border officials are fairly lax on the dosage laws.
Cash is always best 

MONEY:  Almost all vendors in border towns will accept US cash and/or credit cards, so there is no need to change US dollars into pesos. When getting dental or other medical services rendered, cash is the preferred mode of payment.                                                                                    
SAFETY:  Unfortunately, Mexico has been suffering from drug-related violence recently. However small border towns like San Luis and Los Algodones near Yuma, Arizona, are relatively self contained and distant from the trouble spots. Both towns are accessible by a short walk, and the dental offices are lined up on the very first streets as you enter town. Nuevo Progresso in Texas has also reportedly a decently safe border entry.Another favored border town is Ciudad Acuna, across the border from Del Rio. The majority of the town close to the bridge is predominantly pharmacies and various doctors that cater to senior citizens here in TX. It is not uncommon at all to literally see buses of US travelers and retirees scattered out from Granbury, Brady, Abilene, or Brownsville getting off in Acuna to have some dental work done or buy glasses or medications. Hwy 277 going into Acuna is not a major North - South corridor, so drug trafficking, although it undoubtedly exists there, isn't as prevalent as in Matamoros, Laredo, or El Paso.
eye doctorsDOCTORS:  When visiting doctors in Mexico, whether eye doctors or dentists, it's wise to depend on advise from others, preferably friends, family or fellow RVers, who've seen these doctors.  Although I haven't been south of the border I always hear the scuttle from our RV friends and guests and try to keep posted on their latest good experiences.  In your travels and when you meet up with Mexico visitors keep your ear to the ground for their tales of "the good, the bad and the ugly."

TRAVEL:  Traveling to Mexico requires a US passport or pass card.  Check out this website: travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html .  A good introduction to travel in Mexico is traveling with a group of RV's in a caravan.  This is especially true if you plan to travel further into Mexico or stay for and extended period, perhaps with your RV.  Escapees and others have groups who travel down regularly.  Of course, traveling with someone who speaks Spanish can make things more comfortable as well.  The  most important thing is to educate yourself on your particular place of crossing the border, plan ahead for all possibilities and remember that a trip to the local grocery store can end up in trouble just as well as a trip to Mexico.  Do some Internet research on border towns and their businesses and restaurants and ask for tips from fellow RV'ers who've crossed the border or visited doctors, pharmacies and restaurants to get their opinions.  

I recently came across a great RVer's blog "Gone With the Wynns."  They made this informative video of their experiences with crossing the border, specifically for dental services.
  • Although some of the border towns can be a little shabby by some peoples standards, many of the photos like the ones from the video above show doctors offices that surpass even some in the US by way of hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Be prepared to be "badgered" by locals selling their wares.
  • Although these towns are not necessarily the "real Mexico" they can offer us a glimpse of a rich culture and a beautiful loving people.
Tell us about any experiences you've had with travel and services across our southern border.

Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

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