7 Tips for Drving from Laredo to Lake Chapala

September 7, 2011

You Can Drive to Lake Chapala from North America.
The link at the bottom of this article is a great mile by mile route from Laredo, Texas to Lake Chapala, Mexico. But, don’t miss the tips below.
Now. Let me share a couple of tips that will make your journey even better.
Tip 1:  Create a series of Language Survival Cards if your Spanish to weak.
Use 3 x 5 inch index cards. Create a card for one of more of the following situations: Gassing Up, Hotel, Restaurant, Road signs, Asking Directions, Check Point Stops (They almost always ask where you’re coming from and where you are going), and any other situations you think might be handy.
Write the phrase or sentence three ways. One in English, One in Spanish, One phonetically so you can try to say it correctly in Spanish. If they can read and they don’t understand you, you can just point to the phrase on your card.
Tip 2: When gassing up I estimate how much gas I’ll need and tell the attendant for example 300 pesos (tres cientos de Magna) por favor.
Why an exact amount? Makes paying easy, counting change easy, and you’re not distracted from what’s going on around you.
Tip 3: Try to avoid gas stations with lots of people around (hawkers and thieves like these places).
Tip 4: Rural stations without much business are my favorite. Usually better service, cleaner, and less potential hassle. It’s also easier to ask for directions in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Tip 5: Spend the money to order a good Mexican Road Atlas. Yes, it will be in Spanish, but a map is a map.
I like the 8.5 x 11 spiral bound Roji Atlas. Lays flat on the hotel table for checking the next days route.
Guia Roji: 
Now available in the U.S. and Canada, this leading map publisher offers several road atlases. Photobucket Guia Roji maps are very well-researched and highly reliable.
Here’s where you can order: www.Amazon.com will send it to your doorstep.
Tip 6: Travelling with Pets: I’ve helped clients bring in pets several times. I once drove a client in her ¾ ton Ford Pickup with Camper filled with all her stuff and her 7 little yip yip dogs who rode in the jump seat behind the front seats.
They were relatively well behaved. They only fought 14 times from the USA to Chapala. (No blood drawn thankfully).
I always parked the truck out of sight of the office. I never asked about pets.
I always asked for a room at the back of the complex (if there was a side or back door) to be out of sight of the office. Clerks may tell you “no” if you ask about pets.
Best to use the, “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” approach. If they do spot your pet, they likely will not challenge you. If the owner is there he/she may challenge you, but employees are unlikely to do so.
Offer to put up a pet deposit if challenged. You’re going to be responsible for your pets. You know they’re well behaved, but the hotel staff doesn’t know.
Tip 7: I saved the most important tip for last. DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT! It’s easy to miss an important road sign, hit an unmarked obstacle, and or get lost when driving at night.
OK, here’s a link to a great detailed mile by mile guide to print out before you leave home. There are other routes, but this is probably the easiest, safest, and best route for most North Americans.
All for now. Tu amigo, Sid


  • MaryAnn

    Sid, you are an encyclopedia of information! I printed your routing suggestions and I am ordering the map book from Amazon. I find it interesting that of all the entry points I chose Laredo myself mostly because El Paso appears to be a nightmare, but I could be wrong.

    Thanks again for all you do for us wannabe and soon-to-be Gringas in Mexico!!


  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi MaryAnn , WOW, thanks for the very kind words. It’s responses like yours that keep me going.

    Thanks again. When you arrive, please let us know. I have a surprise gift for you (no strings attached).

    All for now, Tu amigo, Sid

  • Erin Mc Nulty

    Great directions! But what does the “Black Bull” signs stand for? Thanks!

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Erin, I’m no absolutely sure, but I think it’s a brand of Tequila.

    It’s hard to miss. Good landmark. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Bibarnes

    An easier drive and crossing is to cross at Columbia which is in Nuevo Leon about 40 miles west of Laredo.  It is a straight shot across the border with no driving through the city.  Turn left on Piedras Negras and follow it to Rte 2 turn right on 2 and follow it to 85 heading south.   When coming into Saltillo follow the signs for Zacatecas and head south bypas Aguas calientes and then arriving near Guadalajara take the periferico around.  It is slightly longer in miles and about 20 minutes longer in time, but no small villages to drive through and the tolls are lower.  I can do it in an RV driving a steady 60mph and make the trip in 13 hours.  You can go on Google Maps and check the start and end points nd make one change to the route to avoid going through Guad and take the periferico around either side depending on where you want to go at lakeside.  I live on teh southside so I take the west route and come down 15 to Joco and then around towards Tuxcueca.   I have gon back and forth both ways and the Zacatecas/Columbia route is the easiest.

  • Gayla Jones

    Hello. I am getting ready to make the drive to Chapala with three dogs. I tried the link on the page, but it said “404 error” and would not load. Do you have another link?

Email for more information:

Featured Video

Latest Club Posts

Recent Club Comments

  • Catherine Ibarra: Does Handy Mail, provide FAX service? if not does anyone else"…
  • The real and only Toedeladoki: Hello and have a good day! We are a Dutch couple living for more than 11 years in Barra De Navidad. We…
  • douglas brown: How do I get more info. on assisted living or retirement homes . I have tried to find info. but…
  • Mopussyplease: But could you answer on question? If it's so safe down there, why do all of the homes have bars…
  • Mopussyplease: But if you look at the whole country of Mexico and their murder rate vs America's murder rate. Mexico's murder…
  • John: Sid, please do not write about how great the Chapala area is as there are too many Americans and Canadians…
  • Marco Duran: My name is Sofia Huerta 37 y/o and I speak english, italian and spanish I've wroked in UK and Italy…

Chapala Webboard

Chapala Club Archives

See all Chapala Club Posts

Chapala Club Topics

Friends of Chapala Club