Many of you are wondering if you can do even its Roadtrip in Mexico and especially in Yucatan without having to go through an agency.
I answer you a big YES!
I know that for people who have not yet reached the milestone, it seems complicated to embark. We ask ourselves a lot of questions: the security in the country, the journeys on the roads, the budget to envisage, with or without car etc …
Having made 5 Roadtrip in the last 10 years in Mexico, I will give you some keys to better organize your next trip yourself. I did several car tours in different ways each time since I went there 3 times as a couple, once in family and once with friends.
1. What kind of roadtrip do I want to do?
First of all before you start, you need to know what kind of circuit you want to do: do you want something more relaxing or something very dynamic?
It is important to know in advance if you want to spend a lot of time at the beach or visit a maximum of sites in the country because it will allow you to prepare a circuit taking into account these criteria.
Here is an example of Circuit> Duration 15 days: Method 1 week thoroughly and 1 week cool:
This is the kind of circuit that I like a lot, simply because it is a circuit that allows you to be thoroughly the first week and take time off to rest a bit in order to return to some places that we like the second week.
You change hotels every day during the first week, you move long distances and it allows you to be every morning on site to visit very early for example the pyramids without the horde of tourists.
2. List the points of interest of Yucatan
Then what you need to do is choose what you want to see during your tour: list the points of interest you want to see or do.
There are plenty of places that you can do yourself without being accompanied to Mexico and there are other places where a guide is needed and strongly advised not to miss or search for hours the best places to visit .
It is usually this part of the organization that will take you the most time but it is also this moment that is the most exciting, because we discover and learn a lot of things. We are starting to be impatient to be there 🙂
3. Calculation of distances and travel time between points of interest
Once you have listed all the points of interest, it is important to group them by geographical area in order to organize your tour.
I advise you to print a map by typing for example Yucatan on google and then to locate all points of interest by putting points in pencil on the map.
Then you can calculate with Google maps by pressing routes, distances and travel times between points. This will allow you to start drawing a circuit, you will probably do it again two or three times before finding the best option to optimize this circuit.
4. Choose your means of transport according to your budget
There are also several methods of transportation once there, usually the means of transport often depends on the budget you have planned on site.
There is the bus, the taxis and the car.
The buses cover a big part of the country, it is the company ADO. Personally, I always prefer to rent a car in Mexico for several reasons:
The first is that I find that it leaves a great deal of freedom to do activities on the spot and to make great distances in the country.
The second is because I think it is also more comfortable to have the privilege to stop where you want and when you want, for example I happened to want to taste fruit on the edges road or to stop eating a grilled chicken because the smell made me want, I could not do it by bus. And it’s so great to listen to Mexican music on the radio on long journeys while rolling open windows.
The third is that I think it’s very convenient when you do a circuit where you change hotels every day because I leave the bags in the trunk and I take only what I need for me and the children. And the same when you go to the beach, you always have everything in the trunk and it’s still a strong point, all the equipment for snorkeling in the car, something to nibble etc ..
We park the car next to the beach and when we want to get business we go there and if we want to go swimming we put everything in the trunk to not take the risk of being stolen business and the super camera for example.
5. Choose your car rental
Regarding the car rental in Mexico, pay attention !!!
I got myself the first 2 times I went to Mexico, through Budget and another big company. Especially flee the big companies because it has nothing to do with France, we think it’s connected but not at all. There in Mexico the agencies do what they want, whether they are called Hertz, Budget or Europcar is the same …
Almost all companies will force you once on the spot to take a so-called compulsory insurance to recover your vehicle. Even if you took all the insurance online at the time of booking, there are many complaints on the forums and others, so beware!
The first two times I traveled to Mexico I went through Budget and Europcar, both of them got me into trouble. Budget obliged me to recover my vehicle to pay an insurance of 20 € per extra day at the price already paid online when I booked. Yet it was well written on the site “all insurance is included” but on the spot they do not care, they say it is another compulsory insurance in Mexico.
Same even if you have the gold card and you tell them that you do not want insurance, they retain the vehicle until you pay the insurance they require you to take. And it does not stop there … they asked me in addition to compulsory insurance, to also take a print imprint of my credit card in the amount of 8000 €.
Of course the authorization did not pass so we had to arrange with our couple of friends to pass 2 cards to pass the authorization. And guess what the device to take the imprint was an old device (I do not know what it’s called), it’s a device in which they put the card and they make a round trip with a carbon paper that copy the numbers of the card and on our return the piracy of our cards did not miss 🙂
Now I go through an online comparator and I choose the agency MEX and I take insurance online, rest assured I have no action at home but the other 3 times I went home I did not have only one problem. That’s why I recommend them. No worries about the rental of the car itself, the guarantee or the insurance. We made the car very dirty inside and out but they did not tell us anything.
So I urge you to take insurance online extra so they do not impose on you.
6. Choose the hotels
You have two choices, either you can leave a little adventure by booking in advance only the first and last night of hotel and the rest of the nights as the circuit or predict every night in advance.
Everything depends once again on your budget and what you want, if you want specific hotels I advise you to choose in advance, especially if you are in high tourist season. Otherwise you can choose as your hotels and the advantage is that you will have a great room at the best price.
I advise you to set a budget per night in advance, which will allow you to keep your budget next, sometimes you will pay less and others more what balances it all.
What I do often is that I reserve in advance my first night and strategic nights.
For example, when I know that I am going to visit an archeological site on Tuesday, I reserve my night in advance for the day before in the hotel closest to the site to be certain to be on site at the opening of the site.
I do not want to take the risk that there is no room at the last moment otherwise I have to get up earlier to make the trip to be on the spot at the opening.
Updated: during our last road trip in April 2019, we reserved the hotels the same day! The offer is wide and we had each time hotel nights for 20 or 60 euros while it is 150 or 200 euros in normal time! Rooms that we could never have afforded otherwise;)
The advantage of booking at the last minute is that you can pay often cheaper otherwise from time to time by going to the hotels directly on site it can be negotiable.
Here is an example of Circuit> duration 15 days:
2 weeks method with stop of several days by point of interests:
It is a circuit that allows you to take a little more time on each point of interest but that I find does not allow to see as many things as in the first. The main advantage of this method is that it’s coolest when you have a baby or small children.
The disadvantage of this circuit is that sometimes you lose time in a place that ultimately does not have much interest. We stop with this tour at least 2 nights on each stage, it can be adapted over a longer period too and I will say that it is besides the best option if you leave 3 weeks or more.
Here is an example of a roadtrip I did over a 2 week period with friends.
7. Choose excursions and guides
Here is the second longest and sometimes laborious part, the choice of excursions that we will accompany. So that’s the headache because we all think that in Mexico the activities will be consistent with the local purchasing power 🙂
And well you know, the Yucatan is like the United States or like France in terms of price. It’s not because life is cheaper that excursions will be cheaper, it’s just the opposite!
You can already do many things without necessarily being accompanied by a guide but most activities require explanations to understand the history and the ecosystem.
An 8-hour organized tour costs you an average of 130 € per person. And that is why it will take you time to choose the one you will do or not …
A few years ago when I went to Mexico it was easy to negotiate with locals but it gets more and more complicated as everything is done so that travelers go through companies to do the activities.
If they do not pass by tour operators, the price on the spot will be only a few euros less, and frankly for the price difference as much take a guide that will translate us and give us explanations on the place.
The agencies are more numerous to offer excursions, it is also often the same excursions that will be offered to € 230 for one and € 100 for the other. It’s often the way you are introduced to it that changes but rarely the content of the tour.
The agencies are more numerous to offer excursions, it is also often the same excursions that will be offered to € 230 for one and € 100 for the other. It’s often the way you are introduced to the world.
I tell you knowingly because I myself made the same excursion with 2 competitors, one sold at 130 € and the other at 95 € and yet at the exit it was the same benefit. ..
The biggest difference lies in the choice of guide, you should know that an agency does not pay guides. In fact the agencies have a list of guides who speak French, English, etc … And when they have requests for an excursion, they group the travelers together on the same date. When they are minimum 6 or more according to the agencies, they validate the excursion and at that moment they call each guide to know if they are available this or that day.
You do not know in advance which guide you are going to have and it is a pity because the quality of an excursion depends solely on the quality of the service and explanations that will provide you with a guide.
It should also be known that guides do not roll on gold, they do not work every day. It all depends on the influx and demands.
For example, they work very little in the low season, which often puts them in precarious situations.
Tell yourself that on average a guide is paid between 20 € and 50 € for a local guide or between 70 € and 120 € for a guide, regardless of the number of participants he supervises. Guides usually get up early around 4am or 5am as they have to join the van driver.
Then they start the pickup of participants in the different hotels, which lasts between 1H to 2H according to the excursions and the number of participants. Ditto at the end of the day they are not at home before 18H, the time to deposit all participants in their hotels.
8. Make the right choice between operators
The most important thing in an excursion you have understood is the guide. If the guide is in a bad mood the whole group will be in a bad mood and the energy will not be positive. If the guide is in a good mood, enthusiastic and friendly, your day will be unforgettable.
Secretoo offers to make you live an unforgettable trip:
1 – An excursion = a guide. No change of guide every day. The guide is chosen for his knowledge, skills and sympathy. It’s the same all year round. This ensures a relationship of trust and impeccable service to travelers with a guide who knows by heart the point of interest it makes you visit.
2 – Small group = conviviality. Small group excursions allow you to hear explanations, ask questions, sympathize with other participants, adapt and take more time.
3 – Degressive prices = accessible to all. Pay the price for two when we are ten it’s over. The more participants, the lower the price because you are one and the same group.
4 – A well paid guide = a happy guide = a passionate guide = satisfied travelers. Guides are paid up to 90% more than with an agency, the more participants there are, the more they are paid.
9. The scams to avoid
Mexico is a welcoming country, it is good to live. The locals are party-goers, friendly, funny, and they will always be kind to you. I traveled to Chiapas without ever feeling insecure.
As everywhere there are scams so here are some tips to avoid them:
– Never remove ATMs in the street, prefer banks and remove if possible in the counters inside banks.
– Watch when you refuel, there are several scams at the pump:
The first is to make you believe that you have the full because the gun between the car before and yours has not been hung up and you have not paid attention to the meter. So you pay a full full while you have only half full.
The second is at the time of settlement, he asks you 620 pesos, you give him all the tickets at once. The attendant dispenses a 500 pesos bill discreetly against a 200 pesos ticket and then he will tell you that you gave him a 200 pesos note for example. He’s going to argue that you’re wrong that he’s missing 300 pesos, it happened to me a couple of times, so give him a ticket and be careful.
– Respect the speed limits on the small roads of the agglomerations, you have the risk of being stopped even if you did not make speeding, at that moment always keep in your wallet 100 pesos and put the others tickets elsewhere.
When they stop you they ask you to come with them to the police station if you do not pay. Tell them that you do not understand or otherwise give the 100 pesos saying that you only have that. Do not get upset, it’s common in Mexico, life is hard and so they try;)
It will not go any further and they will let you go after 10 minutes of negotiation. I managed not to pay every time because I discuss with them.
– Negotiate but not too much, I saw tourists get burned because they negotiated too much.
– Get in a cab when there is no one but the driver!
Especially not in a taxi or there is already a passenger, whether it is in the front or the back. It’s a shot up for you to racket then. Many tourists are having it is however a known practice of the locals who never go up in a taxi if there is already a person with the driver. Same do not let anyone else with you in the cab otherwise it’s not good …
– Ride the day and avoid driving at night especially if you are alone in the car. Be careful also to the topes that are the bumps, there it does not laugh, sometimes they are not reported and you see them at the last minute!
That’s it, I think we went around.
Ask me your questions in comment and I will answer in the day … or if you see things to add do not hesitate.
Have a nice stay 🙂