What is a hostel?
A hostel is an inexpensive way to lodge with like minded fellow travelers. Instead of just rooms they often have dorms of either single or unisex that have bunk beds in them. If you have a little more cash you can stay in your own room or, if, on a budget you can stay in the dorm. Both offer the advantage of communal areas where you can meet people.
Why choose a hostel?
Unlike a hotel or motel a hostel offers travelers with the ability to meet fellow like minded travelers through the type of accommodations, communal areas and events offered by the hostel. It’s a great place to find out local knowledge and enhance your travel experience with new friends.
How much does a hostel cost?
Prices of hostels vary throughout Baja, but they are usually less expensive than a hotel or motel.
Is food included?
Many hostels provide breakfast in the morning. Some don’t. Be sure to ask. Some do it for free while others have a separate fee. If a hostel does provide breakfast it’s usually eggs or pancakes with toast and coffee. It may also include traditional Mexican fare as well.
What do I need to go to Baja?
More importantly, the real question is “What do I need to get back?”. We’ve never been asked to provide any form of identification to enter Mexico. Your mileage may vary. However, upon return to facilitate an easy entry to return into the United States a Passport is the best bet. An up to date one is best, but if it’s expired it still helps. On a side note, we’ve had people who returned from Baja and after answering many questions were allowed to cross without any form of I.D. at all after it was lost during their vacation.
Is it safe?
Baja isn’t much different than many other places as far as safety goes. If you hang out in any large city at night or visit some less desirable areas you may have problems. But, once out in the country and out of the city it’s often safer than many places in California. People are friendly and helpful.
The Moon Travel Handbook for Baja states: “Statistics clearly show that violent crime is overall less common in Mexico than anywhere in the United States. In Baja California, crime statistics are many times lower than the United States national average.” We believe that the current violence in Mexico touches almost exclusively those connected with the drug industry.
Do I need to know Spanish?
Don’t fret. You will seldom encounter a situation where you will need extensive Spanish language skills. Many people in Baja have a solid grasp of English and are willing to help out the traveler. Of course, a willingness to learn and experiment never hurts! We encourage you to look beyond linguistic and cultural boundaries and join us in the search for common ground. Hand gestures work in a pinch, too!
How are the roads?
In the last few years the roads have improved greatly. The Felipe Calderon Administration from 2006 to 2012 placed a greater emphasis on the infrastructure of Baja than ever before. In fact, going into places like Erendira and Bahia de Los Angeles that used to be a nightmare due to the road is so much more enjoyable now. Some people joke that the roads are better now than many parts of California. There still is construction, but wait times and detours are much less common now.
Do I need to get Mexican Auto Insurance?
In a word “Yes”. Mexico doesn’t recognize foreign insurance companies. As a result, liability insurance needs to be purchased through a Mexican insurance company. Baja Bound Insurance Company is the best we have found and have been using them for over 20yrs. Be sure to get insurance! In Mexico all parties in an accident are guilty until proven otherwise. Showing proof of liability insurance shows that you are financially worthy while most drivers in Mexico don’t have insurance.
What about Gas stations and ATM machines?
Unlike years prior PEMEX Gas stations are now readily available. Places that were devoid of gas, like Bahia de Los Angeles, now have two. In most parts of Baja it isn’t a problem. However, you should carry a gas can when venturing off-road or in the more remote parts of Baja. It’s wise to top off before you head out. The gas quality has greatly improved too. The days of bringing a filter to pre-filter your gas before it enters your vehicle are gone! However, if you’re off the beaten track and find yourself having to buy bootleg gas from a local or rancher it may be wise to carry a Baja Pre-Filter.
ATM machine are also prevalent and safe to use. Most banks and OXXOs now have them. As a bonus, the exchange rate can be better than at the Casa de Cambios.
Which Border Crossing is the Best?
This really depends on where you are going and the time you have allocated to be in Baja. All things being equal my far and away favorite is the Tecate border crossing. It’s much smaller and less congested while the drive on Hwy 94 is much more scenic. You can also expect shorter wait times as well getting back. As an added bonus the knick knack peddlers are a lot more civilized, too. You can check the border wait times at the U.S Customs and Border website. Pro tip: If you do go through one of the two lanes in Tecate DO NOT get in the lane that has the guy wearing the Drill Sargent Round Brown hat. I’m pretty sure he gauges life success on how many people he can send to secondary to get their car searched. If you do get the misfortune please tell him “Juan doTree said Hi”. Thanks