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.
Now available in the U.S. and Canada, this leading map publisher offers several road atlases. 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