Scenery along the way on Highway 90 near Langtry, Texas!
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Lost Alaskan RV Park, Alpine, TX.

Where are they going next? Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Reflecting on our Mexico RV Caravan trip

We've had a couple of weeks now to think about this most recent Mexico RV trip. This was the third RV caravan group that we have led through Mexico, and it continues to be a learning experience for us.

Let me give you some background. The first trip we did in February of 2016 was just a trial run. We took over another group for 30 days.

The trial run went really well, and we learned that we enjoyed showing people many of the things that we love about Mexico. So when we were offered the opportunity to lead another group for a three month trip to the Yucatan starting in January of 2018, we signed up.

We hadn't been to the Yucatan since 2008, so it was also an interesting trip for us. And of course we're not going to do these trips without enjoying them ourselves. But there were a couple of drawbacks. It was a lot more work than we expected. There were 11 rigs plus ourselves, so a total of 24 people. Some of the rigs were too big. And, on an overall basis that group was a lot higher maintenance than the group that we had in 2016. Not everybody of course, just in general.

And, the schedule was tough. In our opinion, that route for a Yucatan trip is something that should be done over six months, not three!

We tried to make some changes with the company who hired us, but we couldn't come to an agreement.

So we set about planning our own!

Heading across the border on December 2, 2018.

And for the most part, we think were totally successful. On an overall basis, this was a far better trip for both us and the participants.

This trip was four months instead of three. We had been told that a four month trip wouldn't work because people wanted to be home for Christmas, but that turned out not to be an issue at all. In fact, it was almost not long enough. The feedback we got from most people was that there were a couple of locations that they wanted to stay longer!

We had 7 other rigs with us instead of 11. And two of them were singles, so we had 14 people in total instead of 24! Much more manageable.

Packed in tight at Trailer Park Las Americas, Cholula, Puebla.

And we limited the rig size to 32 ft. This was done for a couple of reasons. Some of the places we go in Mexico are not designed for larger rigs. Sure, sometimes you can squeeze a larger rig in if you're traveling on your own. But when there is a group of rigs showing up, maneuvering can be an issue. Also, finding gas stations and other rest stops on travel days that have sufficient space for the group can be challenging. Much easier though with smaller rigs, and less of them!

The route was good. In hindsight, there are not a lot of changes we would have made. We did 5,400 kms (3,350 miles) over the four months. Compare that to the Yucatan trip when we did 9,000 kms (5,580 miles) over three months!

It was much more relaxing.

But as I said, there are still some things that need to be improved. Both for our enjoyment, and the people coming on the trip. If we do another trip, here are some of the changes we would make...

We would make it slightly longer. Four and a half months... maybe even five! After all, the weather is near perfect... every single day. So why not stretch it out as long as you can. Why would you want to rush back to the U.S. where consistent good weather is not guaranteed.

The number of rigs we think was perfect. And with 14 people, it was relatively easy for us to find a rental van for excursions that could accommodate 14 people. With 16 people, we would have had to find vans that are made for 20 or 22. It's still doable, but a little more expensive on a per person basis.

The route was great, but we would switch it up mostly to make things interesting. And believe it or not, there are still some places in Mexico that we haven't been! So we would include some of those places just like we did on this past trip. We would like to return to Copper Canyon as well, but do it from the northern inland route to include the fantastic Basaseachic Falls.

It would be a more adventurous trip, including more hiking and outdoor activity. We might even restrict the trip to active individuals. And even if we don't, I think we will put in a minimal stipulation... like you have to be able to walk two kms (1.3 miles) at a decent pace.

It might include more dry camping. In that regard, we need to do a better job of explaining to people what that entails. We thought we had done that this time, but we still had situations where people weren't fully prepared for the lack of facilities at some of the places where we ended up setting up camp. We will be better prepared for the next group so that there are no misconceptions.

We might limit rig size to 30ft. And explain that lower clearance vehicles might have some issues. We had two different vehicles on this past trip that were fine in length, but had very low ground clearance.

And then of course, we have to decide if we are going to do another one. The answer to that... probably! But we won't make a firm decision until towards the end of June. Stay tuned to this blog... we will announce our intentions then, and we might only have to do it once. Last year, we had 19 responses from our one day blog post. And, a few of the people from this past trip have expressed an interest in going again! So there won't be many vacant spots.

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24 comments:

  1. I am glad it was so successful - it certainly looked like fun

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    1. We definitely feel like it was a success but like anything, there are always ways to improve it to make it an even better experience.

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  2. Love all your posts and someday we want to do the same, but in reading you talk about limiting the size and I do understand it but that would leave us our as ours is 39'... just means we will have to look for another tour group is all but sure love reading about all your excursions and events..
    You have excited us in regards to a Mexican trip which before we likely wouldn't have done.. Thank you..

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    1. So glad that you enjoyed our posts over the winter, we sure got to show the participants some pretty amazing places and gave them some really good local experiences.

      Or, as we have suggested to other people, just buy a second hand smaller unit to use for the winter and then sell it when you are done with it. If you are still wanting to do a caravan trip with your current unit, email us and we can point you in the right direction.

      We are so glad that we have inspired you into wanting to explore Mexico. It was definitely not somewhere that we had ever thought about driving to until we did it for our first time back in the winter of 2007-08, we loved it so much we just keep coming back for more. :-)

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  3. Sounds like you may have figured out what's great for you. Neat. I very much enjoy reading your blog posts. Good luck in Australia.

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    1. We don't see this being an every winter event but it does seem to have worked out for us this past winter and if we do it again next winter we will just build upon it, there is always room for improvement. :-)

      We are looking forward to our adventures in Australia, we hope you will enjoying reading about them as well.

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  4. Loved reading your journal, I emailed you this morning when I couldn’t figure out why my comments weren’t posting, and it looks as though I’ve cleared up the problem. Yay!
    We hope you do decide to make another run down to Mexico, and we’d sure love to go!
    Looking forward to reading about your adventures in New Zealand! Safe travels!

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    1. Kevin got the email, thank you and we are happy that you figured out why your comment didn't post earlier.

      As it looks right now, we probably will do it again next winter but we won't make the commitment until late June or early July.

      And, we are looking forward to writing about our Australia adventures.

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  5. I remember Tioga George had a Fleetwood Tioga which seemed less than 32' long but I could be wrong. Anyway, he had trouble navigating through some narrow streets and low hanging electrical lines and tree limbs. I think I would prefer the 'traditional' car/van caravan into small villages and cities & sleep in budget hotels. I enjoyed your trip into villages and cities and other remote areas as well. I've only flown into cities, stayed in resort or hotel, and drove to other outlying areas. I don't own an RV but would live to give it a try. I'd rent an RV but there may be problems with taking it into Mexico...have to see I suppose.

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    1. Yep, he sure did have some problems in the smaller towns, lots of obstacles to watch out for, that is why Kevin checks and double checks our route.

      Small camper vans or Class B's definitely have their advantages but they also have some disadvantages.

      Unless you rent privately, I don't think you can rent a camper in the USA and be able to cross the border into Mexico with it.

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  6. Safe travels and we'll see you in a couple of weeks!

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  7. We met up with you on your first night in and your next to the last night out. Everyone on your caravan loved it and the route was great not to mention the caravan leaders. First class job and it was an adventure tour not just a bunch of rv parks. We believe everyone, whether they had been to Mexico before or not, got to see things most people will never get to see rving in Mexico. JWD.

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    1. Thanks Chris, we think that just about everyone loved it too, so much so that a couple want to do it again next winter. :-)

      We definitely did take them on a adventure tour in the true Kevin and Ruth style, like taking local buses and eating in the little Mom and Pop restaurants. We certainly took them to see some off the beaten path places, that they most likely would never have seen otherwise. It was a good trip overall and we had a great time. :-)

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  8. Always good to be realistic and pragmatic about what works and what doesn’t work in any situation. Good luck on your next caravan whenever that might be. Looking forward to your Australian trip. Happy trails.

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    1. The only way to learn is to do and then see where any issues lie and then work on them. This was a learning experience and I think overall the trip went well, there is always room for improvements. :-)

      We hope the weather isn't too depressing in Edmonton for you!

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  9. You had no travel trailers on this latest caravan. Any thoughts on if you would allow them in future caravans.

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    1. It was just a coincidence that everyone was in a motorhome on this trip. We have no problems with small travel trailers or 5th wheels providing there are only one or two in the caravan.

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  10. Truck camper for us, but not for a few years yet, hopefully you will still be interested and I can convince hubby to give it a try.

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    1. A truck camper would be just about perfect but you do have to be careful of the height. We know someone that has a truck camper and their total height is higher than us and they couldn't get into one campsite that we could.

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  11. I enjoyed very much following your Mexican trip through your most interesting daily posts and pictures. Thank you very much for sharing so much information! I'm still dreaming of joining a caravan like yours someday! Now, hope you enjoy Australia as much in the coming weeks!

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    1. Thank you so much for following along on our adventures through Mexico this past winter, we are glad that you enjoyed our posts. Not sure how long we will be doing caravans down there though but there are always other caravan companies that you could join.

      I am sure that we will love Australia just as much, we are really looking forward to seeing what adventures we will get up to down there. :-)

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  12. P.S. I would very much like to have an idea of the costs involved in a trip to Mexico like the one you did last winter. Would you share on this blog a sort of sketchy budget for the group, similar to the one you post for your own monthly expenses, for example? Thanks!

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    1. It is actually too difficult to do because everyone's expenses are different. However if you were do this trip on your own without a caravan you could expect to spend similar prices to us and then just add on the camping fees for a month, but again everyone's spending habits are very different.

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