Are you dreaming of spending winter relaxing on the beach? Sunshine ☀️, whales 🐳, and tacos 🌮, there’s nothing better than van life in Baja Mexico. Winter can be hard, but you can leave it all behind and travel south to a land of wonders.
Van life in Mexico has become more popular in the past few years. Adventurous souls leave the cold winters 🥶 to wander down south to spend time in the warmth. It’s the perfect place for nomads with plenty of space for rigs and vibes that allow you to slow down and relax.
I have spent the past few months traveling on a road trip in Baja California 🚐. We have spent nights under the stars, camping on the beaches of Baja, meeting new friends, and having the most incredible experiences. Winter in Baja is truly magical.
Read below to find out how to prep your rig so you too can hang on the beaches of Baja!
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Table of Contents
What is Baja?
Baja is the shortened name for Baja California in Mexico. This is a peninsula on the the Western side of Mexico 🇲🇽, which is separated from the mainland by the Gulf of California. The peninsula is South of California. There are two states of Baja: Baja California and Baja California Sur.
Baja California is known for having scenic rugged beaches, great whale watching, brilliant snorkeling, fantastic surfing, and plenty of campsites under the stars 💫. It’s a wonderful quiet peninsula with plenty of untouched land. You will fall in love with it as soon as you drive through.
You can cross into Baja through the various border points between California and Mexico including Tecate, Tijuana, and Mexicali. Get ready for an unforgettable time in Baja!
Prep for Van Life Baja
1. Check Your Documents
Whenever you cross a border, the first thing you need to is make sure that you have a valid passport. Your passport must also be valid for 6 months AFTER you plan on leaving Mexico.
You should also get travel insurance, so that if you have any medical concerns pop up, you’ll be covered. There are plenty of options for travel insurance, so you should choose the one that’s right for you.
It’s also important to have copies 📝 of all important documents: credit cards, traveler’s insurance, passports, and IDs.
If you have pets 🐶, you must also print out their vaccination records and have those with you. They will need to be fully vaccinated before entering into Mexico.
In order to cross the border, you need to get a FMM (Multiple Immigration) Card 🎟. This Visa is valid for up to 6 months of travel in Mexico. You can apply for the FMM beforehand online or go in person when you get there. Either way you will have to enter the Border office.
The FMM card costs $687 MXN Pesos which is about $25 US. You can pay for the card with cash or card. It’s a very easy process and we only spent 5 minutes in the office getting our Visa cards.
2. Get Car Insurance
Unfortunately, most US car insurance companies will not cover you when you go abroad. This means that you will need to get insurance ⚙️ for your rig when you go to Baja.
There are many companies that specialize in insurance specifically for this purpose. Bajabound is one of the most popular companies that van lifers use. They have different rates and options based on your rig. You can go to their website and get a quote instantly. It only takes a few minutes and then you’ll be ready to go. Make sure to print out the insurance to have on hand.
Before you leave, I also recommend doing all of your regular van maintenance. Although you can definitely do those things in Baja, it’s best to have your van in good shape for the bumpy Baja roads. We made sure to get our oil changed and our fluids checked right before we crossed over the border.
3. Research Places You Want to Go
You do not need to have a full planned out itinerary before you get to Baja, in fact I would suggest you don’t. The best part of van life is going with the flow. However, you should have a list of places you definitely want to see and things you want to do.
While more and more people are coming down to Baja for the winter, you can find places to stay as you go. There are great options for free campsites ⛺️ or paid campgrounds along the way. You do not need to book them in advance. Plus, you may meet people to caravan with and you’ll change your plans as you go. It’s the best way to do Baja van life!
Great Baja Mexico Van Destinations:
- San Felipe
- Bahia de Concepcion
- Playa Tecolote & Balandra Beach
- Todos Santos
- La Ventana
4. Clean Out Your Van
There are certain things you cannot have when you cross the border. You need to clear out your van and make sure that you do not have any contraband. When you get to the border, the border police will inspect your entire RV or van 🛂. So, you need to make sure that you truly clean it out.
Things to Clear Out:
- More than 3 liters of Alcohol
- More than 10 packs of cigarettes
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Pepper Spray
5. Figure out Electronic Coverage
Luckily, many US carriers will still work in Mexico. Both AT&T and Verizon will work while you are in Mexico 📲. They have reciprocity with the Mexican cell coverage companies. But, you should double check your phone coverage to make sure that it will work.
If you do not have coverage, then you can purchase a Telcel sim card when you arrive. They have different options for data usage and price.
One of the things we did this past year to prep for Baja was purchase Starlink. Starlink is internet that runs off of satellite 🛰. Therefore, you can use it in very remote places that do not have cell service or other coverage.
Although it is pricey, it is the best way to get internet coverage in Baja. My husband and I both work full-time and Starlink has been a game changer. We have been camped on beaches with zero cell service 📶, but have been able to have zoom meetings, stream movies, and Facetime friends without any issues.
Many people who have traveled to Baja in the past, have had to been in cities during the weeks or go to coffee shops. However, the coffee shops have very unreliable WiFi. If you work full-time, then Starlink is definitely worth it!
Doing van life in Baja is actually much easier than you may think. Follow all of these steps to prep for your time and you’ll be relaxing on the beach in no time! You’ll make the most amazing memories and meet like-minded individuals along the way. I hope you enjoy your time in Baja as much as we did.
Let me know in the comments if you found this post helpful!
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