'Good Journey'

"It is better to travel well than to arrive."

(This post belongs to a series, "Crossing Borders"- Family Road Trip Costa Rica. You can view the photo gallery here.)

Patience isn't necessarily one of our strong suits.

We got news that our passports still hadn't arrived, even though they'd been promised for two weeks already, (there was a huge influx of applications due to the new law requiring passports for all international travel, including Canada and Mexico).

Lots of toll roads

Greg decided we should head for the border anyway.

He visited the Mexican consulate in Tucson, AZ that morning to find out about visas.

Filling out the necessary paperwork the two of us, he was told visas weren't required for the children. All that was mandatory to enter the country was birth certificates.

That was all the green light we needed.

We packed up the belongings strewn around the hotel room in Tucson, our home for the past two days, and made a run for the border.

If you're driving through Mexico, there are 7 things you must have:

  1. Your American car insurance is not recognized in Mexico. As a minimum, you need civil liability insurance, which can be purchased online or at storefronts along many of the border towns.
  2. Proof of vehicle ownership, or written permission/affidavit from a lien holder.

    Great roads, gorgeous scenery

  3. Current vehicle Registration
  4. Proof of citizenship (Passport now required to re-enter the U.S.)
  5. A valid U.S. drivers and/or (recommended) an international drivers license (only about US$15)
  6. Tourist card or FMM (can be purchased at the border)
  7. Temporary vehicle importation permit (also purchased at the border, or purchase online)

We stopped at AAA in Tucson to purchase Mexican Insurance and our international drivers license (IDL).

The IDL is recommended to present to police or other officials when they ask to see your license. If by chance it is confiscated, you'll still retain your American drivers license. (You might even consider buying more than one IDL.)

Once on the road, it took only an hour and a half to reach the border. Exiting at 'Mariposa' for the Nogales border crossing, we thought we were in Mexico already. Signs were converted to kilometers and written in Spanish.

Because we weren't sure what to expect once we got to the 'other side', we opted to stop at Jack-in-the Box for our last American meal.


Surprised that they took our order in Spanish, my husband had to go inside to make sure it was right. Even though he's fluent, he doesn't speak 'fast food'.

Unknown Borders

Our bellies were now full, but mine fluttered with butterflies as we finally approached the border.

Besides a trip to Cancun for a second honeymoon last year (the impetus for our current adventure), and a jaunt to Tijuana while in my early 20's, I hadn't traveled outside the U.S. before now.

I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect. You hear the horror stories, about being harassed, detained, or some other unfortunate mishap. What would be our fate? The unknown can be frightening.

Approaching the border patrol buildings, we were motioned to stop. An official moved toward us and my husband rolled down his window.

"Are you carrying any guns or ammunition?" the official asked in English.


"Do you have more than $10,000 in cash?"


"What about you?" he asked, looking in my direction.

"He has all my money," I replied, pointing to Greg.

"I know women always have a secret stash that their husbands don't know about," he responded with a smile.

I just laughed.

He waved us on. So much for our frightening border crossing.

(This post belongs to a series, “Crossing Borders”- Family Road Trip to Costa Rica, and is continues with Part 2 of Crossing the Border into Mexico. You can also view the Photo Essay: Crossing the Border Mexico)



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