Should I take a Mexico RV Caravan Tour?
Former Wagon Master
To answer this question the first thing you have to ask yourself is, does taking your RV into Mexico interest you? I have certainly had many comments in the US that “Mexico is dangerous”, which usually means no they are not interested, or my other favorite “there is too much of the good old USA to see”. That response usually means “yes I am interested, but I am too scared”. Our aim is to put that fear to rest. Unfortunately a lot of people take a Mexican Caravan simply because they are too scared to do it on their own. That is a good reason, but it is not the only reason to take a caravan, in fact it is the worst reason. A caravan is a social experience and if you are the type who pulls into a RV park, puts up your Satellite dish and disappear into your RV for 2 weeks, a caravan is probably not for you.
Assuming you are at least a bit more sociable than Atilla the Hun, what are the advantages of taking a caravan as opposed to doing it on your own? Plenty, if it is your first time taking an RV into Mexico. I speak from experience as I first did it on my own. For starters, Mexico requires Visa’s and vehicle permits in typical Hispanic fashion, which means loopholes & hassles. The caravan company will help you navigate all of that so you don’t end up at the border and find you cannot get in, due to some stupid reason or another. The other big impediment is language. Since Mexicans lack the common decency to learn English, you have to deal with a lot of things in Spanish. This can be a big hurdle if you are pulled over by the police or have ask directions and all that sort of stuff. Being in a group with a Wagon Master who knows the ropes provides a lot of peace of mind. What happens if you break down? This means you are on the side of the road worried about bad man Jose or drug cartels, neither of which are actually a threat, but the imagination can run wild. In actual fact Mexicans will give you the shirt off their back, and seldom hesitate to stop and assist someone in need. The only issue is that strange language they speak of course. A Caravan will not leave you stranded and even if they have to move on, will ensure you have someone with you to assist. This is where our company has a big advantage in that we are based in Mexico and have access to all sorts of local resources another company may not have.
This all brings up what you should look for in a Caravan company. I should point out that ours is technically the only one operating legally in Mexico as we are licensed and registered to operate there, no others are. Does that mean you will be in trouble going with one of our competitors? As much as I would like to say you risk being thrown into a Mexican dungeon with bad man Jose as your new girlfriend, the fact is the government does not really care that much as long as you are spending money down there. There are rumors that may change. Does the company include tours? If so do they hire local guides who can tell you what you are looking at or does the Wagon Master wing it? Do they supply meals with those tours or do you get a soggy sandwich & coke? Do they provide transport or are you expected to car pool in your own vehicles? Do they pay for your RV parks or even use them much? Do they park you overnight in gas stations on route?
This brings up the subject of RV Parks. Mexico has plenty, but do not expect 1000 Trails. Most may only have 15 amp and the water and sewer services may be on the wrong size, or an extension away. If you think of the trip as an Adventure, you will have a great time and bragging rights to friends. If you expect Cruise Ship luxury, you are going to be disappointed. The company will/should tell you what to expect and ensure you are bringing any necessary supplies to overcome any shortcomings. The good news is that a lot of our customers head back down on their own in subsequent years, and many have taken 2 or 3 trips with us, so it must have some good things about it.
You do have to be willing to expect some regimentation. Departure times are fixed, the Wagon Master is in charge of allocating spots, etc. and you should let them know if you are heading into the hills in your tow car and that sort of thing. It usually works out fine, but there is not a Wagon Master out there that has not had “the customer from hell”. This is one reason I consider the ideal caravan size as 10-12 rigs. Less than that and a bad apple can spoil the bunch. With 10-12, the other customers tend to keep Mr. TroubleMaker in line through peer pressure.
So all in all, a caravan is a good way to get your feet wet in Mexico and you may find you like it, even if you are initially wary. Give it a go !!