Maiden Voyage of the 2019 TRD PRO T4R
December 10, 2019

Baja!! Is it Safe? What do you need to know!?

With Baja season quickly approaching, we figured it would be beneficial to give everyone some insight into some Baja do’s and don’ts, what you need to know about renting our rigs to travel down South and the glaring question, is it safe.

Disclaimer: These are just our OPINIONS and information we’ve found to be useful on our own trips. DO YOUR research and as always, BE PREPARED!

The number one question we get all the time is, ‘is it safe’? Our answer to that is, ‘is the US even safe’? Unfortunately, nobody is 100% safe anywhere you go these days, but if you travel smart, prepared and in the know, more times than not you will be fine. Below is a quick list of some do’s and don’ts to help you on your Baja adventure….

DO’S

  1. Travel prepared – know where you’re going, have a plan, have paper maps, off-line GPS and even a SAT phone for emergencies.

  2. Travel in a group, never alone. Safety in numbers! That doesn’t mean you can’t travel alone, it’s just safer if you’re in a group.

  3. Have a reliable vehicle to take you where you want to go. The last thing you want to do is breakdown in the middle of Baja. Have a spare tire, spare parts, tool kit, battery jumper, etc.

  4. Make sure to have all necessary and required paperwork, insurance and identification.

  5. Keep a small amount of cash on you at all times, the rest hidden in your vehicle. When encountering ‘dirty cops’ this can be helpful. Bribes do happen, so be prepared. Remember, you can always request to be taken to the police station. If a cop is dirty this will work almost every time.

  6. Keep all valuable things stowed and hidden in the vehicle out of plain sight.

  7. When you get asked to get out at a military checkpoint, make sure your wallet, phone and passport stay on your persons at all times.

  8. Abide by all laws, especially speed limits. Don’t give a reason to get pulled over.

  9. Brush up on your Spanish or have some sort of translation device. It’s always better when you know what people saying. Given you’re in their country, it’s on you to make sure you can communicate.

  10. Follow the ½ a tank rule for fuel. Gas stations can be few and far between. Especially the deeper down you go. If you see a gas station and you are at ½ a tank or less, fill up.

  11. Travel with pesos in addition to your regular currency. This way you don’t get taken advantage of on the exchange rate.

  12. HAVE FUN, enjoy beautiful Baja and definitely eat the food!

DON’TS

  1. Act like an idiot and try to buy or travel with drugs, visit strip clubs, back alley bars or clubs, etc. If you stick to normal, well-traveled places and don’t put yourself in shady situations you will have a higher likelihood of staying safe.

  2. Be flashy! No need to take your expensive jewelry or clothing with you. Look broke and most of the time nobody will bother you.

  3. Travel at night – this is when bad things happen. Not only are the bad apples out at night, there are also cattle and other animals out that can cause some serious damage to your vehicle. The roads are narrow, and truckers like to drive down the middle at night as well. It’s best to just avoid nighttime travel if you can help it.

  4. Run out of water or food. Remember, Baja is sparse the majority of the time. Make sure you are stocked up on food and water as you go.

  5. Disrespect people. Remember, you are a visitor, treat people with respect and most of the time they will do the same.

  6. DRINK TAP WATER! This is a big one! Buy bottled water or carry containers to fill up clean filtered water from dispensers as you go.

  7. Get drunk/wasted! Always have your wits about you in case you need to make a quick decision. It’s ok to toss back a few cold ones, but always make sure to know your limit. Definitely don’t drink and drive. This is just asking for trouble!

What kind of identification should you take? What about insurance? Driver’s license?

  1. Bring your passport or passport card always!

  2. Bring your driver’s license from your home country or state. We always recommend getting an international driver license as well. It’s not a must, but for a quick online form and $15-20, why not!?

  3. Take pictures of all your documents as back up in case you misplace any of them.

  4. ALWAYS get car insurance! Mexico now requires that you have valid auto insurance while driving your car in Mexico. It’s quick, easy and can be done online. Make sure to check current death liability requirements when purchasing. If you plan to cross over states in Baja, sometimes higher limits are required.

  5. Stop an get your FMM. This is a type of temporary visa that is always required, even though most of the time you never get asked for it. It’s important to note that some insurance policies will be void if you don’t have this and get in an accident. A quick stop at customs when entering and a few bucks will help you get this done. If you’re traveling in Baja for less than 7-day’s, it’s free.

  6. Vehicle import permit – as of now (2019), these are only needed if you plan to take the vehicle over to the mainland.

Can we take TopoTerra rigs and trailers to Baja?

  • The short answer is yes! Below is a list of the added fees whenever one of our rigs or trailers crosses the border.

    • $20/night Baja surcharge will be added to the current season rate.

    • A mandatory insurance processing fee of $15-50 (varies by vehicle type & value) per night will be added for insurance purposes. We process insurance on your behalf and add you to our policy so that you are covered to drive in Baja. We can add multiple people if need be.

    • Higher security deposit ranging from $750-$1250 on the trailers and $1250-$2k on the rigs. The amount varies depending on length of trip and how far down you plan to go.

Baja truly is a wonderful and beautiful place! You can camp on the beach, eat amazing food, explore for days, catch some epic waves and camp in remote locations far from anyone or anything. It truly is a majestic place! We highly recommend taking a trip down south, and what better way to experience Baja than in one of our purpose-built rigs. Feel free to reach out and start planning your Baja vacation today!

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