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The Baja California Peninsula is an outdoor lover’s dream with stunning mountains, beautiful beaches and vast desert landscapes. RV camping in Baja, Mexico is the best way to explore all that the peninsula has to offer.
This guide details all of the logistics needed to plan an awesome RV road trip down the Baja Peninsula. While traveling in another country does require more planning, RVing in Baja is not difficult. I’ll start this guide by answering a few questions that we have been frequently asked.
- Is RVing in Baja, Mexico safe? Yes, it is absolutely safe. We did not encounter any safety concerns on our trip nor did we hear about any incidents from fellow RVers.
- Can I drive a big rig in Baja? Yes, absolutely. We traveled to Baja in a dually truck pulling a 34 foot fifth wheel. We also met many campers driving large, class A motorhomes.
- Should I travel in a caravan? Caravans are a nice option if you would like someone else to handle your trip planning. However, there is no reason you need to be in a caravan.
- What kinds of campgrounds are available? You can find all different types of RV campgrounds in Baja. There are plenty of both full-service RV parks and beautiful boondocking locations.
Read on for everything else you need to know before RV camping in Baja, Mexico. If you have any additional questions, drop them in the comments below. To check out pictures of our Baja RV adventure, follow us on Instagram.
Required Documents for RV Camping in Baja
To ensure a smooth border crossing into Mexico, you should make sure to have all the proper documents in order well before your departure date. Each person in your group needs a valid passport. You should also carry the registration, lease agreement and/or title for your RV and tow vehicles. If you are traveling with dogs or cats, see the pets section below for details on the required paperwork.
Each person in your group will also need a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) tourist card. The FMM card is available to purchase online, but you must stop at the border crossing to have it stamped. Since an in-person visit is required for the stamp, it is easiest just to purchase your FMM at the border. See the section on crossing the border below for more details on this process.
The last document you need is proof of Mexican car insurance. You are legally required to have a Mexican auto insurance policy to drive in the country, so you must purchase a short term policy if your auto insurance is based in another country. Short term auto insurance can be purchased online from Lewis and Lewis. If you are traveling outside of Baja and the free zone in Sonora, you will also need a temporary vehicle importation permit. If you are only RVing in Baja, an importation permit is not required.
You should print at least two extra copies of all documents before crossing the border, so you have back-up if any originals are misplaced.
Necessary RV Supplies for RV Camping in Baja
If you RV regularly, you probably have most of the gear you need. However, there are a few additional supplies I recommend for RV camping in Baja, Mexico. To make the shopping process easy, I have created an Amazon list where you can easily purchase all of my recommend Baja RV gear.
The essential items you need are:
- 2 to 3 Jugs for Drinking Water
- An Extra Gas or Diesel Can (there are some long stretches with no gas stations)
- Portable Air Compressor to adjust tire pressure for soft sand and dirt roads
- 15 amp adapter (may Mexican RV parks have 15 or 20 amp service)
- Camping Mexico’s Baja (provides detailed information on campgrounds and routes)
I also recommend bringing at least one extra spare tire for your tow vehicle and or fifth wheel. While it is easy to find mechanics in Mexico, it may not be easy to find your exact tires. RV parts can also be hard to find in Baja, so you should bring spare parts for anything in your rig that has broken before or is not in good condition. For example, we have had the same part on our RV toilet break twice, so we brought a spare toilet repair kit to Mexico.
It is also important to fill any prescriptions before crossing the border. Fill prescriptions well in advance as you may have to request insurance approval if filling more than a one month supply. You can easily find household and personal products in Baja, but you should stock up on items if you prefer a specific brand. We also brought a large supply of toilet paper so we did not have to evaluate which Mexican brands were RV friendly.
Crossing the Border to Baja in an RV
We crossed the border into Baja through Tecate and left through Mexicali. Driving through at Tecate was a breeze, while driving back through at Mexicali took over 3 hours. After our experience, and talking to several other RVers in Baja, I would highly recommend choosing Tecate for both border crossings.
Whether you purchase your FMM card online or in-person, you must stop at the border to have the document stamped. To avoid having to find RV parking at the border, you can walk across the border to obtain your stamp. If you are crossing into Mexico at Tecate, camp the night before at Potrero County Park, which is just a few miles from the border.
The day before entering Baja with your RV, drive your tow vehicle or car south towards the border and park in the public parking area a few hundred yards from the border crossing. Walk through the brown turnstiles, past the Banjercito (bank) window and up the stairs on your right. After entering the building at the top of the stairs, go into the door that says “migracion” on your right. In this office, you can request your FMM cards. The officer will provide your paperwork and direct you back to the bank window to pay for the cards. Return to the migracion office to show your receipt and the officer will stamp your FMM cards. You can then walk down the street to re-enter the U.S.
When entering Baja in your RV, just drive straight up to the Tecate border crossing. Stop where signs indicate and wait for either a green or red light to flash. If you receive a green light, you can enter straight into the country. If the light turns red, pull forward as directed by the agents for an inspection. After pulling forward, border agents will likely ask for your passports and/or RV registration and may want to search your RV. Most RVs are stopped for a quick inspection, so have all of your documents ready for the agents.
RVing in Baja with Pets
We brought our dog, Ted, and our cat, Mr. Man, on our Baja RV camping adventure. Overall, it was an easy experience traveling with pets, but it did require some extra preparation.
When we traveled to Baja in late 2019, both cats and dogs entering Mexico were required to have a vet certificate that was issued within 10 days of your border crossing. As of December 16th, 2019, the health certificate is no longer required. Visit the USDA page on pet travel to Mexico for current requirements. You should always travel with a copy of your cat’s or dog’s current vet records and rabies certificate.
You should also bring enough pet food with you to last the duration of your trip. While pet food and supplies are widely available in Baja, it is unlikely that you will be able to find the exact brand you purchase in the U.S. or Canada. All pet food should be transported in its original container.
RV Parks in Baja, Mexico
There are all types of RV parks and campgrounds in Baja, Mexico. Many RVers spend most of their time dry camping on the beach, while others choose to stay at full-service RV parks. The book Camping Mexico’s Baja is the best resource for finding campgrounds in Baja and planning your route. You should not drive an RV into Baja without this book.
The quality of electric service varies greatly between towns and campgrounds. You should always use a surge protector when hooking up your RV to campground electricity in Baja. Generally try to avoid pushing your electric usage to maximum capacity by limiting how many appliances you use at once.
While you should not drink the water from the campground, it is fine to use to fill your tanks for other purposes. If you are nervous about the quality of the water, you can add a small amount of bleach to your tanks to ensure the water is safe for washing dishes and bathing. Add one teaspoon of bleach for every six gallons in the fresh water tank. Pour the bleach into the hose before you begin filling. When you return from Baja, add chlorine bleach one more time and let it sit for 6 to 12 hours to sanitize your tanks. Then, flush your tanks repeatedly until the chlorine smell is gone.
Internet and Cell Service in Baja
Before your RV camping trip to Baja, contact your cell phone provider to learn if you will incur any additional fees in Mexico. Our unlimited Verizon plan included free talk and texting in Mexico, but limited data usage to 0.5 GB per day. We talked to several other RVers with AT&T who said they were able to use their full data plan in Mexico for no extra fee.
While most towns and cities in Baja have strong cell service there are many stretches of roads and beaches that do not have any service. Only the nicest RV parks in Baja offer high-speed Wi-Fi, but many restaurants offer Wi-Fi for customers. If you need to work remotely while RVing in Baja, it is best to make sure your cellular plan includes unlimited data in Mexico.
Roads and Driving in Baja
Driving an RV in Baja is an exciting experience to say the least. While the condition of Baja’s highways has improved vastly over the last few years, there are still some hazards that require driving with care. Large portions of Mexico Highway 1 are two-lane roads with no shoulder. When you pass other RVs or trucks, you may be within a few inches of each other. Since there are rarely passing lanes, it is common courtesy in Baja to use your left turn signal to indicate when vehicles behind you can safely pass.
Where construction is present, the road often detours onto temporary dirt roads of varying condition. Just drive slow in these areas and you should be fine. It is also fairly common to encounter cows or goats crossing or blocking the road. When you encounter animals, just slow down and turn on your caution lights until they are safely off the road. If cars from the other direction flash you, be prepared to stop for animals or another object in the road.
Since cell service is limited on many stretches of highway, you should download the Baja map on Google Maps before traveling so you can access directions offline. Downloaded maps expire in about 30 days, so try to download the full Baja map the day before you cross the border. If you don’t speak Spanish, the passenger should have Google Translate open so you can quickly decipher road signs. You can also download Spanish in the app, so you can translate offline.
There are military checkpoints on highways throughout the Baja Peninsula. These checkpoints make the country safer and are not anything to worry about. On our drive south, we passed through all of the checkpoints without any inspection or searches. Driving north, we were stopped for a quick inspection a few times. During each inspection, the soldiers were friendly and simply checked our passports and took a quick look inside our RV.
Outside of the highways and town centers, many of the roads in Baja are dirt. Before taking your RV down an unknown road, test out the conditions in your tow vehicle. Bringing or renting a four-wheeler or ATV is a great way to explore Baja without damaging your vehicles.
Safety while RVing in Baja
We never felt unsafe or had any negative interactions with people while RV camping in Baja, Mexico. Our one interaction with the police occurred when we stopped for a bathroom break. An officer pulled over to check if we needed help and chatted with us for a bit once he realized we were not in trouble. Generally, there is nothing to worry about traveling in Baja as long as you are using common sense and not looking for trouble.
The only safety tip I would suggest in Baja is not driving on the highways after dark. Due to the road conditions, lack of light and animals in the road, driving at night can be hazardous.
RV Caravans to Baja
We chose to RV in Baja without a caravan because we were traveling on a budget and wanted flexibility in our schedule. The only benefit I see to traveling with a caravan is having support if you blow a tire or have engine trouble. If you are an experienced RVer, you should easily be able to manage a trip to Baja without a guide.
If you are considering RV Camping in Baja, Mexico, put your worries aside and start planning your trip. This beautiful region has so much adventure to offer, and there is no better way to travel here than by RV.
If you are considering other international RV travel destinations, check out our guide on RVing in Canada.