For our 2019-2020 winter getaway we were planning to go to Guadeloupe and Martinique but thanks to my inexistent time management skill, I couldn’t find the time between my chaotic work schedule to apply for the visa to enter the countries (which means that, for a weak passport like mine, I would need to apply it via the French embassy and go through the same procedure as applying for a Schengen visa).
I know that Nico was super annoyed at me because of this, I could tell from his glare so intense, it's enough to melt what was left of the planetary ice cap. So as a measure of good intention, I told him that I could take him to Mexico if he felt like it. Little that I realized, Mexico is huge. Apparently. It ranges from the resort-full coastal area to Mayan jungle, to desert area, to Aztec ruins, to tamales. What I’m saying is I know shit about Mexico, let alone to have a trip there. But Nico seemed interested and he was instantly happy again. All good in the hood, olé!
I need to check my bank balance.
The Yucatan Peninsula
The Yucatan peninsula lies in southeastern Mexico and it separates the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, and it is nominated as the safest place in Mexico to travel. Yucatan peninsula itself is divided into 3 states Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche, and we managed to drove around two of the three states: Quintana Roo and Yucatan. Click here for our simple itinerary that visits the major Yucatan spots.
Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula
Road trip is honestly the best way to travel because it allows us to travel where ever we want, on our own pace and the Yucatan peninsula road and traffic conditions are just perfect to have a road trip, and here is why:
1. Renting a car is easy.
Car rentals are easy to find. Assuming you fly into Cancun airport, you will find yourself harassed by car rental sales as soon as you get out of the custom. Big rental cars like Alamo, Hertz, Thrifty have their own shuttle service that offers pick-up from the airport to their garage, and they will take you to the airport once you drop off the car at the end of your travel at their garage, free of charge!
Insurance. Big brands of international car rentals operate side by side along with the local brands, and every one of them seems to have a very low price. Some crazy prices we saw were as low as 7$ per day! But of course, this is the bare cost for smallest car, without insurance, and you WANT insurance for your car, especially when you are abroad. Don’t be surprised, before getting your keys, the final bill will be more than what you’ve expected (doubled, even).
Tips: the garage will take a close look at the car with you to fill out the form to state the condition of the car before you take it on the road, take pics of the car, inside and out, just in case.
Tips: Get a local sim card at the nearest OXXO (some kind of a local brand 7eleven) and ask the guy to activate the card for you.
Big cars or small cars. Although most of the roads are in good condition, most of them are not that wide, it’s best to get an economy car, it’s easier in urban conditions, easy to park and cheaper on fuel as well.
2. The road condition is well maintained and we all drive on the right lane
The roads are surprisingly well maintained with clear signs of directions and speed limits. We were there right on the Christmas – New Year period, and the traffic wasn’t terrifying at all. Well, getting out of the airport area was a mess because we had to compete with buses, taxis, cars, and big shuttles. It was a bit overwhelming to drive among them while at the same time trying to figure out where we were going. But eventually once we were out the airport area, the traffic cleared out and my butt cheeks unclenched.
Parking. Speaking about parking, free parking is available by the roads in most places. It is well indicated by the road and relatively safe. Just make sure you park on the designated area (look out for the E sign for Estacionamiento (parking)) and don’t leave anything on the back seat that might attract the curious minds.
Tips: not every gas station accepts cards so prepare some cash with you, at least keep cash for tipping. If you use a credit card to pay, make sure you have your passport close by because they will check the name on the credit card to match your passport, and your passport photo to match your actual face.
3. Military or police checking points are just doing their job
All and all, I am more than glad that Nico decided to do our Yucatan trip on the road. Yes, it was Mr. Eveready that had the idea to rent a car. I would never come up with that because I don’t have a driving license. The car gave us the freedom to do the trip on our pace, our own style (read: lots and lots of stops for toilets, picture taking, and taco breaks), and it cost around 20$ per day in average which actually pretty cheap, compared to taking public transport where you have to pay per butt, per trip, which can eventually add up.