30 Days Out


It seems a little hard to believe that almost a year of planning has flown by and we are now less than a month away from our departure date.  The months of planning, on-line research, emails, phone calls, to do lists of to do lists and here we are. There are some days that it seems like for every item we scratch off our list 2 more are added.  With Christmas part of this 30-day home stretch it adds a whole level of expenses and things to do, but like most people, we find we are more productive when we are under pressure and on a deadline. 

In addition to everything else, we decided to lease a new car.  As thrilling as it seemed to pack up our Mini Clubman and hit the road with only the barest necessities and our dog, the reality became more daunting with each trip to the grocery store.  Our Clubman was in great condition, and at 2 years old, only had 12,000 miles - making it extremely attractive to the dealership, which tipped the scales for us.  After several attempts on their end to get us to trade they finally found a 2018 Countryman that fit our budget and requirements. Throw in the roof box from the display room at a discount and we are set to go.  At 6’4” Mike finds the Countryman much easier to get in and out of and we both like being higher up with a larger car around us.  The only real difference is that now we have traded in our “fun” car for what I call our “grown-up” car.  It’s also a good example of more being added to our to do list, and we need to stay on top of the dealership to make sure what could normally day 120 days is done soon.

***If you’re taking a car into Mexico and the car has a lienholder (leasing or finance company) you MUST get a letter from the lienholder that gives you permission to take the car into Mexico. This letter must also specify the dates you are allowed to be there. Make sure to give youself some room in case your dates change by a little. If you have the title to your car, this step is not required.***

Next issue was getting all the paperwork, vaccinations and shots for Maya Alux. Those of you planning to travel with your pets, I can’t recommend enough that it is important to be in contact with your veterinarian months ahead so that you can both have a plan in place and give yourselves enough wiggle-room so you are not scrambling to get the paperwork in order.  Maya visits the vet frequently because she has been battling a slow growing lymphoma for 5 years.  We were still not prepared for her to have a cough and fever a month out.  Our fingers are crossed that we will have the paperwork in time and that her condition is not life-threatening. Had we waited until last minute things could have gone much worse. 

We recently decided to go ahead and get some pesos for our trip.  The peso to dollar exchange was good and we found that our AAA membership include no fees, something our bank did not offer.  While we were at AAA we had to do a trip tix for us.  This will come in very useful and literally takes them just a few minutes to plug in your stops, routes and print it out.  For those of you who are AAA members, I recommend you take advantage of the perks that come with your membership.

We called our car insurance company to notify them of our trip and they were very helpful and gave us the name of the Insurance Company they recommended in Mexico.  You will need to insure your car through a Mexican Insurance company, so we felt it was helpful to get a recommendation from USAA and see who they prefer to deal with. 

We took this last week to do our annual doctors and dentist visits as well, and this gave us the opportunity to talk to doctors and pharmacists about getting a three month supply of medications for our trip. 

We have been in contact with the guests who will be renting our place while we are gone and are firming up their arrival and all it will take to make that a smooth transition.  They are renting our home through Airbnb.com

Many folks have been curious as to our accommodations, so let me briefly fill you in on those.  We decided at the very beginning that we were not going to rush to get somewhere. We wanted the journey to be as enjoyable as the final destination.  Traveling with another couple, who also have a dog, meant we had to pick pet-friendly places.  La Quinta is our go-to hotel when we are only spending a night or two. 

We will depart Charleston and head to La Quinta Biloxi.  We are still not totally sure which route we will take to get there, so that very first night is still a question mark.  We may go to Auburn and visit a friend or take a more southern route.  From Biloxi we have a reservation at Lat Quinta Beaumont, Texas.  This allows us time to wander around Biloxi with only a 4 hour drive that third day.  From Beaumont we head to San Antonio where we will spend 2 nights at the La Quinta Riverwalk.  Here we will meet up with Bob and Caroline and their dog Tootsie, and take in the sights, wander the Riverwalk and visit the Alamo. 

We have reservations at both Laredo Texas and Eagle Pass.  We have read and heard the pros and cons of both crossings and decided, with things so up in the air along our southern border, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make two reservations and cancel the one we don’t need 24 hours out. 

January 13th marks 28 years since Mike and I said “I do” and that is the day we cross the border into Mexico.  Our first night will be at the well-known Plaza Palmas (http://laspalmasmidwayinn.com/)  in Mahehual.  This will more than likely be our longest day in the car.

Our next stop is San Miguel del Allende, where we will be spending 5 nights in a lovely Airbnb.  We chose a cozy, private apartment in the Centro area of SMA, just two blocks from the Main Street. We decided 5 days would be enough time to get a feel for San Miguel and also visit Guanajuanto.  When making our decisions some of the requirements we plugged into our search were: pet friendly, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, wifi and parking.  I would also point out here to look carefully at the photos and ask questions of the host!  Some deals look great but may be missing toilet seats or have a different idea of what bed sizes are or even what is meant by a bedroom.  Communicate with the host, look at photos and read all the reviews.

From San Miguel we head south to Cholula; there we will spend 3 nights at an Airbnb and visit the sights around Cholula and Puebla.  We chose a small home in Cholula instead of one in Puebla because we thought after 5 nights in a city a quieter location may be just what we want. Choosing Airbnb homes allows us to also have the options of cooking at home and doing our laundry.  This means we can pack lighter for the trip and stick the stuff we will need while we are living on the beach in a more tropical climate away in the roof box, not to be touched till we need them in February.

For our next stop we decided to get off the direct route to the Yucatan and add Oaxaca City to our plans.  We again decided to go with an Airbnb for 5 nights. We found a home that is well located about 8 blocks from Zócalo and Santo Domingo, 3 blocks from the Mercado La Merced.  I have been told that the market in Oaxaca can eat up a day and with so much to see and EAT here we wanted to take our time, and also leave time to visit the surrounding areas.

We still don’t have reservations for our one night between Oaxaca and Palenque, but we do have some suggestions.  There really isn’t much we want to see between the two spots, so it is more a matter of convenience and safety. 

We have chosen a No Tell Motel called Hotel Praiso Inn https://www.booking.com/hotel/mx/auto-paraiso-inn.html , in Palenque for 2 nights.  We booked it through Booking.com but it is listed on several travel sites. These hotels enable you to pull your car into a garage, so it is very safe, and apparently they are also know, for being pet friendly and very clean. 

We end the month of January in Campeche, where we found a lovely little Airbnb in the historic district, just a short walk from the Malecon and Cathedral.  We will spend two nights here before heading to the Gulf Coast.   

February 1st we move into a house on the beach in Telchac, a quaint fishing village on the Gulf Coast, where we relax and soak in the tranquility, do a few side trips to see smaller ruins, flamingos, salt flats and even a little time in Merida.  We found this place through Trip Advisor, but booked it through a local rental agency. The last night of stay is the Full Moon Jazz Festival.

From February 17th until March 31st we will be in Puerto Aventuras in a condo we found through Airbnb.  This two bedroom condo is located near the entrance to the golf course and a short walk from the beach, restaurants and stores.

April 1st we head home, but at this time we have no idea which route or for how long. 

Lydia Pontius