First and foremost, I’m a mom. Safety is at the front of my mind when planning our travels. When our friends asked us to drive our RV to Mexico, my first thought was “Is Baja Safe?” followed by “There’s no way that place is safe.” Boy am I glad we did some research and decided to go.
We set out on a 10-day RV trip to Baja, Mexico with our two small kids. Our expectation was to enjoy the sun and the sand, and then return to the USA. Our planned trip included caravanning with other RVers, including police escorts for safety.
What we actually saw and experienced was so much more than just sand and sun. After 10 days, we left the police escort. Our trip turned into living in Baja, Mexico, in our RV, for over 4 months. That 2020 pandemic – we chose to stay through that too. We traveled with another family for the first 2 months, then on our own. Multiple top 10 life experiences occurred during this unexpected RV trip.
I won’t get into our itinerary in this article, if you want to read more details about where we went and what we did, please sign up for our email list at the bottom of any page to get our monthly newsletter. Future posts will include this information. In this post, I will explain how we figure out where to park at night, what measures we take to stay safe, and why we felt safe on a family road trip in Baja, Mexico.
Our RV Setup
We drive a 44’ Class A Diesel Pusher RV, and tow a Jeep. We were the biggest & heaviest vehicle we saw during our 4+ month journey through Baja.
We drive on gravel, dirt, & sand. If we can make it to the many places we went, anyone can. We sometimes stay in RV parks, but our true passion is dry camping, or boondocking, on beaches. Yes, we get stuck, but we always get out – it is part of the adventure.
How we Spoke with Locals
Do we speak Spanish? Nada. We know some Spanish words and we learn more daily. The great thing about traveling in this modern era: Google Translate. A free app that translates on the spot. Use the camera to hover over words to translate them into your language. If there’s cell service or wifi, use the microphone to have a conversation in real-time with someone in their language. We used google translate to ask about parking on people’s property as well as with auto mechanics.
Finding Safe places to Park / Sleep
How do we figure out where to park at night? First, I want to let you know that we don’t plan every detail of our trips in advance, or even each week. We plan a day or two in advance. We never had a problem finding a safe place to park. Even the RV parks always found a spot for us last minute. Maybe we are lucky, but I like to think we are just confident that there is always more than one option. To figure out where to park each night we almost exclusively use the app iOverlander. It’s free and it works offline. To figure out where to park and camp, don’t just read the description of the locations, read the reviews. The reviews have details to help you decide whether you will feel safe or not.
Baja Safety: Military Checkpoints & The Green Angels of Mexico
Is driving in Mexico scary? Not really. We hold our breath when passing big trucks on very narrow mountain roads. After a month, we got used to it. Driving is better now that highway 1 is paved. Hopefully, you won’t have the unfortunate breakdown, but if you do, The Green Angels patrol the highway. They look for and provide mechanical and medical assistance to anyone in need.
As you drive through Baja, it won’t take long before you approach a military checkpoint. The number varies throughout the year, but there are about 6 checkpoints between the US border and Cabo. Sometimes, they will wave you through without saying hi. Other times, they will ask you to get out of your vehicle and they will inspect it thoroughly. They even opened our tow vehicle and the bays under the RV once. It seemed that they were curious about what our RV looked like on the inside. They were always professional, nothing to be afraid of or nervous about. We were never pulled over while driving. The only people we heard of being pulled over were speeding. Having these checkpoints made us feel safe in Baja as we knew where to find the military if we needed them.
Staying Safe in Baja, Mexico
To help stay safe everywhere we travel, we get familiar with news stories & robbery reports. We stay away from areas where there is repeated negative behavior. Try not to put yourself in a targeted area. You will automatically feel safer with this one action.
Feeling safe and staying safe also means using logic. We don’t drive at night here. We only go out late if locals or reviews on iOverlander make the place sound safe to do so. Trust your gut, if we feel safe, we venture out – if the place feels sketchy, we stay in our camp. With the above actions, we never felt unsafe during our entire 4+ month stay.
I believe there are bad individuals almost everywhere in the world. This includes America, where we are from. However, as an example, since the majority of people are kind, honest, and welcoming, I consider the USA a safe place to travel. A few bad people can ruin the reputation and perception of a place. I feel like negative stories in the media did just that to Mexico for me. It made me afraid to drive through this beautiful country. I can’t speak for mainland Mexico, but I can tell you that our perception of Baja, after spending over 4 months here, changed completely. At first, we felt afraid. We were reluctant to drive through this country. Now, we feel safe. We hope everyone who wants to come here gets the opportunity to do so. A majority of the people in Baja are kind, honest, and welcoming.
Knowing what we know now, we would take a road trip through Baja, with kids, on our own. In fact, we highly recommend it. To us, Baja feels very safe for families.