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My wife and I will be driving from austin to oaxaca next week. Does anyone know if you can get both a vehicle permit and a tourist visa at the consulate in Dallas? Can you convert dollars to pesos at the consulate; or is there a bank close that you can do this? Also any ideas about which border crossing is the quickest and places to stay along the way (with secured parking). We plan on stopping in Monterrey, San Luis Potosi and Mexico City before arriving in Oaxaco. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Is it always necessary to bring everything in out of your car trunk each night?
Jim
 

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You can get your vehicle permit online. The FMM tourist document is only available inside Mexico (at the border crossing).
You can get pesos at the best exchange rates from any ATM once you are in Mexico and they are plentiful. However, if you want the security of having some pesos in your wallet crossing the border, I am sure a bank in Austin can exchange dollars/pesos. I did it once at a bank in San Antonio before I realized that there are ATMs available shortly after crossing the border. I don't think you have any reason to go to the consulate in Dallas.

We never stop in Monterrey or SLP. We always leave from San Antonio and spend the night in Matehuala, SLP. There is a no-tell motel there with very secure parking for $400 pesos a night. No need to empty your trunk since you park in a private garage that only you have access to. It would be about 9 hours drive from Austin to Matehuala, then 6.5 more on to Mexico City from there.

We cross at the Columbia crossing. It is a very fast crossing but you have to drive out of your way some 20 minutes extra in total. Plus, once on the Mexican side you have to pass through an area notorious for crooked cops making bogus "speeding" stops to extract bribes. Many people just go through the main crossing in Laredo at the termination of I-35.
 

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My wife and I will be driving from austin to oaxaca next week. Does anyone know if you can get both a vehicle permit and a tourist visa at the consulate in Dallas? Can you convert dollars to pesos at the consulate; or is there a bank close that you can do this? Also any ideas about which border crossing is the quickest and places to stay along the way (with secured parking). We plan on stopping in Monterrey, San Luis Potosi and Mexico City before arriving in Oaxaco. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Is it always necessary to bring everything in out of your car trunk each night?
Jim
I have driven Dallas to Monterrey over 50 times since 1999 and agree with Circle110 in regards to the ATM. If you have never driven to the interior of Mexico, it may be a good idea to obtain your car permit at the consulate in Dallas. Remember, the vehicle must be registered in your name and you must provide proof. There is an ATM at the vehicle permit office just across the border in Nuevo Laredo. I recommend using the bridge at the end of IH35 in Laredo. It has easy access to the permit office and the bypass around the east side of Nuevo Laredo. Monterrey is a wonderful city but is much more dangerous today than 2 years ago. If you are staying the night, plan on staying at the hotel after dark. The streets are dangerous after 8pm. A full service hotel such as the Crowne Plaza may be an option. San Luis is not very far from Monterrey. If you are stopping in San Luis for sightseeing, try the centro. I recommend staying the second night in Queretero. It is the safest city currently in the interior of Mexico along the PanAmerican HWY. It is also the cleanest city in Mexico. In the centro you will not find a cigarette butt on the ground. Amazing city!
Never leave anything in the front area of your car that can be seen.
Mexico City can be very challenging to drive in. If you have experience driving in NYC, you will have no problem with DF. The buses nudge your car out of the way at will in Mex City. Also, you can only circulate on certain days in Mex City depending on the last (or first, I don't remember) digit on your license plate otherwise you will have to pay a fine. You can find the specific information using Google and the Internet.
Good luck and enjoy a wonderful trip!
 

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We have friends that drive straight through from where we are(about 1/2 way between San Luis Potosi and Queretaro. Takes them 11+hours but they know the route and basically more resemble a low flying airplane than a car. Therefore, I think the suggestion of getting car permit in advance, crossing at Nuevo Laredo where you would get FMM, hit the ATM, and then drive to the no tell motel in Matehuala makes a lot of sense. If you are trying to get to Oaxaca, not sure if Oaxaca City, the beaches or other, versus doing sightseeing, I see no reason to stop in either SLP or Mexico City. SLP is too close to Matehuala and with the Norte there is no reason to get into Mexico City and all the hassles. You could make Oaxaca City from Matehuala but I would think Puebla a good option as then a very easy drive to Oaxaca. Also, there are a number of people here that could give you hotel options in Puebla.
 

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They can't issue visas but at least in Raleigh they can issue sort of pre-visa. We did this 1st time that we applied for "FM3" as wanted to make sure of paperwork. You do get receipt for payment that you need to present at immigration in Oaxaca if visa versus tourist permit your goal.
BTW, since you leave in a week, I would do everything(car & FMM) in Nuevo Laredo as all in one place. You just need passport for FMM(& money or credit card). For car permit, you need drivers license, title or registration, passport. You will be charged a fee plus a deposit of $200-400USD depending on age of the car.
 

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My wife and I will be driving from austin to oaxaca next week. Does anyone know if you can get both a vehicle permit and a tourist visa at the consulate in Dallas? Can you convert dollars to pesos at the consulate; or is there a bank close that you can do this? Also any ideas about which border crossing is the quickest and places to stay along the way (with secured parking). We plan on stopping in Monterrey, San Luis Potosi and Mexico City before arriving in Oaxaco. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Is it always necessary to bring everything in out of your car trunk each night?
Jim
Agreed that getting your vehicle permit is the fastest and easiest online if you still have time. It could arrive by Fed Ex or similar in less than a week - and it is easier as the online application is in English! :) Nuevo Laredo is your best bet for crossing. You should be able to get your Tourist Visa there with little difficulty.

Try to not drive in Mexico City. Every time I have driven there, I have been shaken down by the Traffic Cops (or others) for bribes - and, it is easy to get lost there. Best to take a taxi or bus from somewhere outside the city. ATM is best for pesos - don't forget to let your bank and credit card companies know you will be travelling in Mexico as your transactions may be declined. And if you do get pulled over by any sort of officials, don't panic. All they are looking for is to enhance their income.

On my last drive down here, 3 months ago, I was stopped five times - once for a bogus speeding tickets and the other just demanding money. Some travelers say "Never pay a bribe - it just encourages them". Others say "Just pay it and move on". I tend to negotiate the amount I am willing to give them. You may be asked for $100 US - you could probably get away with misunderstanding and giving 100 pesos - or even less. Most importantly, do not take their pictures and do not get on your high horse! Let me know if I can help you in Oaxaca City (safe, beautiful).
 
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