It is hard to imagine driving to Mexico without your trusty laptop. Whether you're traveling on business, getting away on a working vacation, craving constant email access or just plain addicted to Facebook, for many the laptop goes wherever you go. But can you take your laptop across the border? Will it be safe? Can you hook up to the Internet in the middle of the Sonoran Desert?
And, as long as you are thinking ahead, make sure to buy your Mexican auto insurance before entering Mexico. By law, all U.S. drivers and their vehicles must carry a Mexican policy, so be sure your car is covered. The easiest way to acquire your Mexican insurance is to purchase a policy online before you leave on your trip to Mexico. You can get a quote and purchase & print your Mexican insurance policy inminutes from our website!
Keep your data secure
If you are only carrying one laptop per passenger and didn't load your trunk with brand new Mac Books still in their original packaging, you should be ok driving to Mexico through the "Nothing to Declare" lane. If for some reason you're hauling a larger quantity of personal computers, you'll have to declare them and pay a duty - or risk suspicion of smuggling.
You may want to read more information on what you are allowed to bring into Mexico from the US.
While you are planning to stimulate the Mexican economy with your tourist dollars, thieves are likely to see your expensive electronic device as a valuable prize. Computer theft is becoming more common in Mexico. Use common sense and don't leave your laptop visible in your hotel room, or hanging casually from your shoulder in a flashy bag. One good strategy is carrying it in a dirty old daypack. And don't leave your laptop in your car - even with Mexican auto insurance, like other items you take in your car, your laptop is not covered.
Also, it is always a reasonable precaution to back up and store your data safely at home before driving to Mexico.
Can you get Internet access?
Although large portions of Mexico are underdeveloped by 21st century standards, it has Latin America's largest and fastest growing population of Internet users. Telecom giant Telmex provides most of the country's (A)DSL connectivity. As you might expect, there are probably fewer wifi hotspots than you're accustomed to at home. However, you'll find Internet cafes in every conceivable place. Some offer their customers free wifi, and others charge by the hour. And all are good for a cuppa Joe or, if you're lucky, a real mug of Mexican hot chocolate.
Here's a hardware issue to keep in mind. When you're chilling online in vacation mode, it's all too easy to drain your laptop's batteries. Be sure to bring an adapter for your power cord, since the electrical outlets in many old buildings can only accept ungrounded two-prong plugs. If you forget yours, three-to-two-prong adapters are easy enough to buy in Internet-friendly Mexico.
Of course, that probably won't get you online in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, but you've probably got better things to do than check your email out there anyway.