Driving Through Mexico Can Cost You…AKA “Toll Booths”

Do your homework. Finding the best roads usually means having to pay tolls…many of them. Just be aware that the booth workers are not always the most honest people and some of them will try to over charge you or short change you so the more you know before you go the better. Charges vary, depending on the route, and how long the stretch of road is to the next major town or turn off. Tolls are best paid with cash, – some booths are starting to accept credit and debit cards, but not all – so make sure you have pesos with you when you travel by car on toll roads to ensure you don’t get caught out. Some will take USD but will be very inconsistent with the exchange rate. Information about toll roads , distance and costs between any two points in the country can be found (in spanish) at Traza Tu Ruta.

Make sure you keep the receipt you get at each toll booth. This is your “insurance certificate”. If you are involved in an accident you will need this receipt or you may be liable to for road repair and maintenance charges.

Routes which have toll roads connecting the destinations, also have a free alternative road. When you’re driving in Mexico, watch the signs and follow the route for the road type you want to use. Here is a list of the key words to look out for:

LIBRE = Free Road. Free roads are less well maintained, single carriageways that will take you longer to travel across. However, to see some of the ‘off the beaten track’ places, you’ll need to avoid Toll Roads, as they often double as “by-passes” (see term below). It’s recommended that you don’t take the free roads after dark.

CUOTA = Toll Road. Follow this sign if you want to take the toll road to the destination you are traveling to. Note that the highway numbers are often the same, so you can be on the right highway number, heading in the right direction, but on a free (slower) road than you’d like to be. For toll roads, follow the signs that read “CUOTA”.

LIBRAMIENTO = Bypass. Sometimes, major free roads that connect big towns and cities will give you an option to take the “Libramiento” route. This is like a toll road (and sometimes it’s part of the toll road) which, for a fee, will enable you to by-pass the smaller town city if you don’t want to go there, saving you time, and perhaps the hassle of getting lost. Libramientos work in the same way as toll roads.

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