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Cancun car rental deals?

Cancun car rental deals?

Old Nov 17, 04, 12:28 pm
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Cancun car rental deals?

Hey all,

I'll be in Cancun the week before Xmas and am having a difficult time finding a good rate on a rental car. Any tips or discount codes that work well in CUN? Any local rental company recommendations perhaps?

Many thanks....
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Old Nov 17, 04, 5:51 pm
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Another Question

I'm also looking for a good deal for a one-way car rental. I want to pick the car from Cancun (or Playa del Carmen) by 1 Decmeber and drop it off at Merida a week latter.

Drop-off fee looks astronomical! Any way to get around it?

Help is much appreciated..
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Old Nov 18, 04, 5:21 pm
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Slightly off topic but how is the driving situation in the touristy areas like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo etc? We're going down there for New Year's and I was trying to decide between a car rental or airport shuttle. I remember my college days where we would leave our cars at the parking lots in San Ysidro because of the problems driving into Mexico. Of course that could have all been legends to scare us from drving across the border....
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Old Nov 18, 04, 11:12 pm
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With regards to driving in the tourist areas (not Mexico City) it's safe and speed limits are sometimes respected. There may an occasional check point by the military (who's checking for drugs) but as a tourist, they won't put much of a eye on you (though it depends on which side of the bed they woke up) most of the time. It's fun and interesting and offers more flexibility for visiting nearby ruins and tourist areas (see a report in the previous thread).

car rentals - sorry don't know much but I've heard you should book in advance and through the internet and just call ahead to ensure your reservation is there. Booking directly over the phone with them in Mexico will be more expensive.
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Old Nov 21, 04, 6:52 am
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At least for my trip, checking through Orbitz, the best deal was Avis with a midsize/standard rental at $282. However, I was able to get the same size class also with Avis through the AAA website for $222. No Avis discount codes seems to work in Cancun during the Christmas vacation season and most of the coupons seem to be valid only in USA/Canada/Puerto Rico.

You need to have a valid AAA car number to reserve through the AAA website.
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Old Jan 30, 05, 8:55 pm
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Check the Car Rentral Programs threads, I know the Avis one has an extensive list of discount codes. The one that has gotten me the best deals in US and Europr is D005297. Not sure how much of a deal it will get in Cancun. I will be going to CUN in May and need to rent a car with Infant seat. Any hot leads are appreciated.
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Old Feb 5, 05, 4:06 pm
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Tips for renting / driving a car in Mexico

You'll generally do much better arranging the rental in the USA, not on site in Mexico, unless you deal with a small, local rental outfit there - but that can be a bit hazardous if you're not aware.

Some tips about driving in México:

Always take your documents - passport or other documentation of citizenship and home driver's license. Always.

DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT!

Even on major highways, do NOT drive at night. Though the old tales of bandidos are just that - at least in the daytime - at night, particularly in some areas like the states of Sinaloa, Michoacan, Guerrero... you may encounter armed bandits, drug operations, suspicious Federal authorities. At best, most Mexican roads are not set up for night driving, with markers, signs, etc. and animals and people may abound. Stay off the road at night; the life you save may be your own.

Laws are based on Napoleonic code, not English Common Law, and you are NOT presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainly, do NOT have the right to appear before a jury (or even a court in many ciircumstances,) and you may be denied a lawyer - certainly, one will not be appointed to respesent you for free. If you have an accident while you are under the influence of anything, be prepared to learn what a Mexican jail really is like. DO NOT expect the American Embassy or Consul to be of much help - and remember, your citizenship rights end where your border does.

Even though you purchase the insurance - and you'd better, as that is the only representation you are likely to have in case of an accident - you are the secondary client; the rental company is the primary client. Usually, the deductible is quite high, and things like partial theft (tires, mirrors, etc.) and glass breakage are NOT covered in any way.

When you check the car out, do a complete walk around, and write down missing items (typically, a spare tire, jack, etc.) or dings, dents, you name it. Check the fuel in the tank; check the reported mielage on the odometer. Once you drive off, you will very possibly be held responsible for anything not noted on the rental document. If you honestly feel the mileage is excessive and the car's condition bad, do not acept the car, be pleasant and firm, and ask for another car until yo uget what you need.

Also be aware, rental franchises are a lot "looser" than in the USA - more variability and rule enforcement, and very high fees to return the car elsewhere than where you rented it - enough to hire somene to drive it back and return to the turn-in city. It's just generally not a practical idea. You want to rent in Cancún and turn it in in Mérida, because you are going to explore the ruins for another week? Holiday in Cancún, use the deluxe bus to Mérida, rent a car and turn it in there. Easier if you do an open jaw air ticket...

Do not expect fancy stuff available in the US to be available in Mexico - USDOT-approved infant seats? Forget it; take your own to give your child the protection you want to afford her/him. Do not expect automation, computerization or remotely the same safety requirements / design as in the US cars, though the Mexican cars are slowly catching up. DO expect to pay more for air conditioned automobiles, and remember gasoline ain't cheap.

Fortunately, if you DO break down on most major throughways, you will likely get assistance from the "Green Angels," tourist "police" in a green utility pickup with maps, first aid training, radio communications, emergency gas (you pay for it, of course,) etc. One of the two "angels" will undoubteldy speak English, and they are there to help. You can even flag them down if you have a quesion or concern, and they will likely pass any given point two to four times daily.

Driving can be relaxed in the daytime, but I'll tell you how I got my first license in my home town in Mexico - I filled out an application and included some nice folding stuff for the signing officer. "Driver's training" is something offered north of the border and in the big cities for people with money. So, don't expect lots of knowledgeable drivers, other than the very professional Mexican first class bus drivers.

You will find many people very naive about how long it may take to stop a car - if you've never been in one, how would you know? On holidays, you may find inebriated men staggering down the shoulder, and I have even found one sleeping on the warm pavement early evening!!! Animals are often crossing the road, or tied out on the hand-mowed (with machetes) green shoulder to graze. You do NOT want to hit an animal, especially a large pig, horse or cow.

Signals are very varied. Sometimes a disabled car is marked by a branch across the road, or a pile of rocks; the rocks may not be removed after the car is "abled." All are hard to see at night! In many habitated areas, you will see signs - though sometimes there is no sign! - warning of "topes" - known as "sleeping plicemen" in some countries. These are warning bumps, some of which can disembowel a passenger car that does not really slow down. They may be painted white for your convenience, or the paint may have worn off ten years ago.

When about to overtake or pass a vehicle, the driver ahead of you will often use their turn signal: left blinker means "I think it's clear enough, but I may be a lousy judge of speed and distance, and besides, it's your neck on the line." A right blinker means "Do you feel very lucky? I don't think you have a snowball's chance in hell, but, it's your neck on the line."

If you are approaching an obstruction or narrow bridge, the first vehicle to flick lights on has the right of way. Well, that's the theory - in fact, the biggest ugliest and least manerverable truck has the right of way, regardless.

Gasoline stations are run by a Mexican agency, PEMEX, which will probably take your firstborn before it accepts a credit card; cash and carry is the rule. Sometimes, they may be far apart, or may even run out of fuel for a day or two. Never let your fuel gauge show less than 1/2 tank. The guy who pumps your fuel gets a tip, and if you ask him to clean your windscreen, he gets a tip. If you get mobbed by kids wanting to clean your windscreen, wave them off with a smile, and perhaps a few centavos - I have seen people's windshields ruined by a dry newspaper with sand and grit on it - and the rental company will expect you to pay.

Mexican gas stations are like US gas stations - in tourist areas, you may be lied to about how much oil you have, so they can sell you more oil, or worse. So, check your own oil, check the gas pump's meter is "zeroed" before they start pumping - more than one tourist has wondered how they can be charged for 80 liters of gas when the tank only holds 62, and they were half-full anyway. Most places are no problem - stay alert, though. (Yep, Mexico, like most nations uses metric - 3.8 liters = 1 US gallon; a liter is just a teensy bit less than a quart.)

If you are thinking of driving in Mexico, you might consider getting a AAA map or similar before you go (preferably with illustrations of Mexican road signs.) Maps are a hit or miss thing in Mexico, though if you are near a good booskhop, look for the "Guia Roji" series (hard G, J like a hard H, GEE-UH ROW-HEE.) Publishing is not as frequent in Mexico, since there is less volume published - you may find a map a few years or roads behind the times.

Speeds are almost always in KILOMETERS once you get south of the border, not miles per hour. the most typical speed limits you will see are, and their approximate Miles Per Hour equivalent (so you are familiar with the approximate speed you are doing...):

25 Kilometros por hora (KPH) = 15 MPH
35 KPH = 25 MPH
50 KPH = 35 MPH
80 KHP = 50 MPH
90 KPH = 55 MPH
100 KPH = 62 MPH
110 KPH = 68 MPH

Do not exceed speed limits - they may even be liberal for the road conditions you encounter, and the various transit, road and highway police will not cut you any slack. When you estimate driving time, forget what you drive at home, and add about 50% more time.

If you park and return to find your rear license plate missing - that's how "tickets" are issued in Mexico. If you are fortunate, the officer will be nearby and you can explain and maybe make a "gift" (mordida, bribe, baksheesh, vig, chai, etc.) when you inquire "can I pay you the fine?" Be a little discrete, please - it'll probably cost you US$10 or 20. If not, you will need to ask where to go to pay the fine and retrieve your license plate. If you do not do so, the car rental company will undoubtedly take it our of your hide. (Please, don't complain abot this, it's just a fact of life where cops are paid a barely-living wage and are required to "share the love" with their superiors.)

Wow, what a hassle, eh? You can aovid the hassle by using taxicabs, public transit, the excellent first class and "Ejecutivo" intercity busses (I wish WE had Mercedes and Volvo busses with reclining seats, lavs, attendants serving snacks and drinks, individual TV monitors here in the US!) and not paying the money and taking the risk of renting a car.

If you approach renting a car in Mexico with a little Zen, patience and some decent driving experience, you can have a good time - but do the arithmetic and mental math - you may find it easier to kick back, holiday and let others do the driving. (We won't even talk about driving in Mexico City... that's an entire subject in itself.)

On what basis do I get to recommend all this? I was raised in Mexico, have driven in everything from Mexico City to very rural tracks, driven the breadth and length of Central America for one year's solo expedition (VW van!,) as well as in perhaps 40 other countries in vehicles ranging from luxury automobiles to Toyota FJ-series - from crossing the Kalahari to driving in (shudder!) rush-hour LA.

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 5, 05 at 4:20 pm Reason: add bits and pieces
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Old Feb 5, 05, 4:28 pm
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AcaMaca, take your own infant seat - good protection on the airplane if it's qualified, and you are not likely to find a USDOT approved infant seat in Mexico. Even if you find an infant seat - it will NOT likely meet USDOT approval, and may be more eye candy than safety.

May is low-shoulder season in Cancún - as well as the hottest month of the year in most of Mexico. Did I mention it will be HOT? Your best bet is to rent from the USA, using a major US franchise company (though, remember, a Hertz or Avis in any other country is NOT US Hertz or Avis...) and for anywhere on the Yucatán peninsula Apr - Oct, be sure it's air conditioned, especially if you have children with you.

BTW, unless you're planning to drive out of the area to take in ruins, etc. it may be much easier - and often even cheaper - to hire a reputable driver and well-maintained taxi for a day. For trips to town, the Isla Mujeres ferry, etc. a taxi will do fine, and local street busses run frequently and cheaply. For a day trip to, say, Chichén Itzá, I'd take a deluxe bus or a tour in a nice, air-con bus.

Originally Posted by AcaMaca
Check the Car Rentral Programs threads, I know the Avis one has an extensive list of discount codes. The one that has gotten me the best deals in US and Europr is D005297. Not sure how much of a deal it will get in Cancun. I will be going to CUN in May and need to rent a car with Infant seat. Any hot leads are appreciated.
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