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5 Road Trip Tips for Baja Bound Travelers

For those living in Southern California, few things promise more weekend adventure than the words Baja road trip.

Within a few hours you can be in another country, paddling out to a secluded surf break, offshore panga fishing for dinner, or camping under the stars on a pristine beach.

The possibilities are exciting and nearly endless, but if you aren’t an experienced Baja traveler, you might not know just how exciting or how nearly inexhaustible they really are.

With that in mind, here are 5 basic tips to optimize your Baja road trip adventure.

Baja Bound

Photo courtesy of Baja Bound.

Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead

In the computer age, it is all too easy to visit travel websites – or simply to type a destination into a search engine – and then revel in the overload of information, from hotel and restaurant recommendations to off-the-beaten-path activities and adventures. This type of pre-planning does have its benefits (reduced room rates or package deals, for instance), but it also lessens one of the great joys of traveling: that of encountering the new, the unexpected, the utterly delightful. What’s more satisfying? Following the herd to an admittedly great roadside restaurant, or stumbling upon a little hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves incredible food, and that no one else save a few grizzled locals seems to have discovered? Don’t take the magic out of a road trip by mapping it all out in advance.  

Baja Bound

Check the Local Events Calendar

Okay, there’s an exception to the first tip and it has to do with annual events. In the last 10 to 15 years, a great many new food and wine festivals and cultural celebrations have popped up around the Baja California peninsula. Some are more memorable than others, but the best offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences, often at very little cost. Do wine harvest related events in Baja’s wine country of Valle de Guadalupe sound like fun? How about a day of blues music in San Felipe, a salsa dancing festival in Tijuana, or a chance to hear some of the world’s best mariachi groups in Rosarito Beach? Check the Baja.com events page before you load up the trunk or pack the Harley’s saddlebags, but otherwise keep an open mind for the open road.

Baja Bound

Photo courtesy of Baja Bound.

Ask Locals for Suggestions

Even the best travel guides can’t keep up with all the latest bar, restaurant and resort openings (have you been to Los Cabos lately?), which is why the ultimate resource continues to be the locals that you encounter during your travels. Nobody knows what’s happening in a region as well as the people that live there on a year-round basis. Want to know which roads to avoid? What’s the best new taqueria? Where are the coldest beers or the freshest seafood? Where are the best beaches or natural hot springs? Ask a few locals. One might give you some questionable advice, but poll a half-dozen or so and you’re going to have all the info you need to optimize your time in a given area.

Baja Bound

Photo courtesy of Chris Sands.

Don’t Drive at Night

Many unfamiliar with Baja may assume this tip has something to do with bandits. Nope, it has to do with lighting (or lack thereof), some poorly paved (or not paved at all) roads, and of course livestock and other animals. Yes, Baja has plenty of well-maintained and well-lit highways, but it also retains some of its most traditional charms: winding and washed out dirt roads that may give you some bad moments, but will eventually lead to things like beautiful barefoot-friendly resorts and spas, secluded beaches and other off-the-grid attractions. The dirt roads, however, are only the half of it. Did you know Baja has a healthy population of deer? How about free-ranging cattle? The chinampo breed of cattle that first arrived on the peninsula with Hernan Cortez may be small by comparison to other breeds, but they’re more than big enough to wreck your car and ruin your weekend.

Baja Bound

Photo courtesy of Baja Bound.

Insure Your Car with Baja Bound

The occasional livestock sighting is reason enough to think about insurance policies, but you also need to be cognizant of the fact that you’re in a foreign country and need a different kind of coverage.

Did you know U.S. and Canadian auto insurance policies aren’t recognized in Mexico, or that you are required to have “proof of financial responsibility” in the event of an accident, even if you’re not at fault?

Mexican insurance – liability coverage at a minimum – is a must for a stress-free getaway in Baja.

Enter Baja Bound, which underwrites insurance policies for the duration of your visit from two Mexican providers, HDI Seguros and Chubb Seguros. No need to worry about getting in the odd fender bender. Baja Bound has you covered with easy to purchase coverage (it only takes a few minutes to buy and print out your policy) and great customer service. Best of all, claims are settled in U.S. dollars based on U.S. repair rates, and repairs can be completed in either the U.S., Canada or Mexico.

To learn more about Mexican legal requirements or to get a quote, visit Baja Bound.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

About Chris Sands

Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf, and travel for publications such as Baja.com, Los Cabos Guide, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.

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