In the spring of 2008, my wife and I spent over 2 months traveling the Baja Peninsula. We had originally only planned on spending a few weeks down there because we had never been South of the Border before and we were buying into all the hype the news was spewing about how violent it was.
That was till we actually got down there and both fell in love with the culture, the people and the landscape. Since we travel fulltime towing a 25' travel trailer, this trip journal wont be the typical expedition type because we cant spend as much time off-road as we'd like to, but I thought it might offer some vaulable information for other members who might be planning a similar trip, and I'd love to share the fun we had.
Our guide was someone who had contacted us after we had mentioned on our website, Every Miles A Memory numerous times that we wanted to experience Baja, but we were worried that we didnt speak any Spanish, we had never been there before and we didnt really know what to expect.
This guy contacted us saying he had been following along with our travel blogs and thought numerous times how much we were all alike. He said that him, his wife and another couple usually go spend a few weeks down there every year, but this year the other couple had backed out because they were going to vacation somewhere else.
He told us that he had been raised in Southern California and his Father had taken him into Baja hundreds of times over his lifetime. He spoke fluent Spanish and realy knew alot of the area. We ended up spending a few hours on the phone with him and exchanged numerous emails back and fourth to get to know one another better.
We said we'd go as long as we werent tied to his rules. Cindy and I had been on the road for a little over a year by this point and we were used to going our own route. Our biggest worry wasnt the rumors about being kidnapped, mugged or having something stolen, we were more worried that the guy who offered to guide us might get pissed if we either slowed him down or we wanted to go places they didnt want to go.
With the two of us being photographers and being really active, we usually are pretty hard to keep up with. We like to be up early for the early morning sunlight photos and we like to stay out late to get the best sunset light, and then we're usually sitting up late working on photos on the computers and sipping cocktails.
If we find that we didnt get the shot we were looking for, we might hang out for a day or two to make sure we get the right weather, the best backgrounds or what ever might make the photos be that much cooler. Basically we're pretty spoiled and we dont like to be on any specific schedule
Before we left for the Baja Peninsula, we did as much research as possible by reading numerous blogs of others who had already spent time down in Mexico.
We spent lots of time reading trip journals on here, on the RV Net Forum where there is a Mexico Travel Specific section for RV'ers, we spent lots of time on the Baja Nomad Forum which was a huge help in answering a ton of our questions. The Baja Nomad forum has a ton of members who live in Baja and can answer specific questions in real time, not like many other forums who have members who tell you all sorts of stories about a friend of a friend who they've heard of, but they've never been there themselves.
We had plenty of those people trying to talk us out of going with emails being sent to us telling us not to go and teling us how stupid we were. But each time we'd ask if they'd crossed the border themselves, must would say "No, we've never been there because of everything the news reports about how dangerous it is."
Those people who hadnt experienced it first hand, we didnt really want to hear from them. Those who had just returned or those who were down there while we were planning was who we wanted to talk to. Everyone we spoke with recommended Mike &Terri Church's [ame="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0974947180?tag=evmiame-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativ eASIN=0974947180&adid=0MSV4PAS7GMBPYCVBWXZ&"]Travelers Guide to Camping Mexico's Baja[/ame]. We got this book a few weeks before we planned on leaving and read it cover to cover making pages of notes. There is a reason they call it the Baja Bible.
We got out Mexican Insurance for the truck and the camper and found that none of the insurance companies would insure our motorcycle we normally carry with us. We could get insurance on it, but it was pretty expensive and we didnt think we'd use it that much.
What we found was the longer you got the insurance for, the less expensive it was. So we ended up getting the insurance for a full year because of the price break. We ended up leaving the motorcycle with friends in San Diego. After we returned, we both agreed that we should have brought it with us because it would have been good to use as a run-around vehicle and the worries of it getting stolen were long gone by this time.
So we wouldnt have to worry about drinking water, we purchased a 35 gallon poly tank that went in the bed of our truck. The campers fresh water tank will hold 40 gallons of fresh water so we figured between the two, we could go for quite some time before we'd have to worry about fresh drinking water.
From what we had heard and read, most of the towns had fresh water stations that could refill our camper and the new poly tank in the bed of the truck.
Before we left, we went to Sams Club and stocked up on meats and frozen foods that we were told we probably couldnt get once we had crossed the border. Luckily for us, we had upgraded our stock refrigerator in our camper with a Norcold 10 cubic foot model that has a huge freezer.
Another thing we did before we left was to make copies of everything we would normally carry in our wallets. We made copies of our insurance papers and vehicle registrations. We made 3 copies of everything. Two we kept with us, 1 going in the truck, 1 going in the fireprof safe we keep in the camper and the last set we put in an envelope and mailed home to my parents.
This way if anything was to happen, we could call home and have our parents fax us copies of our paperwork. We also stopped by a vets office and had the dogs vaccines updated and copies of that paperwork was included in our other paperwork. This was also a mistake as we would have saved money by getting this done once we were in Meixco.
On to the Trip - We all met at a Wal-Mart parking lot within minutes of the border the night before we planned to cross. We made introductions and went over some maps as what to expect the next morning.
We planned on being up frist thing and crossing the border early. We made sure everything was topped off and double checked everything again.