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Annual Quick Trip to Algodones, Mexico

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A group of us caravanned down to Algodones, Mexico in January 2016 and parked in the Indian parking lot and walked across the border. Incredibly, we all lived to tell about it! Of course Cody has to be in the middle of everything! He waited in the van, I’ve never crossed the border with a dog.

Like most of you, I live on a fairly tight budget and three things that will bust it wide open are 1) dental work, 2) needing eye glasses every year and 3) prescription drugs. When I was younger none of those things were a big problem because I was healthy and working so I had insurance coverage. But at 60 I’m reaping the reward of too many  years of neglect on my teeth and my eyes change enough every year to need annual exams and glasses. In the US those things are so expensive that they used to put a big dent in my savings every  year … but not anymore.
Seven years ago I made my first visit to Algodones, Mexico and discovered just how cheaply I could get those things in a very pleasant and safe environment; I’ve gone back at least once every winter since then because they cost pennies on the dollar compared to what I would pay in the US.
Last December I developed a tooth ache so I made a fast trip down to the dentist. To show you how cheap things are there, here is a list of my costs on that trip:
Granted, that’s still a big chunk of money but if had I gotten those things in the USA I’m certain it would have been well over $5000 which would  have wiped me out. Because I know I’m going to go down to Algodones every year I set aside $100 a month for the trip, so this year I had money leftover. In years when I don’t need any dental work except a cleaning, I get to move that money into my emergency fund, growing it even bigger, or I can get an implant to replace one of the teeth I’ve lost–I’ve replaced two so far.
For those young people out there, I hope we old-timers can serve as an example to warn you to take very good care of your teeth when you are young so you don’t have to go through as much pain when you get older. I’m afraid it’s a “do as I say, not a I did situation.
I think telling people about the tremendous savings available at Algodones is so important I do a post like this every year. I know you may get tired of hearing about it but it’s only 1 out of more than 100 posts I do a year so it shouldn’t be too painful for you. I also host a seminar at the RTR about Algodones so everyone there knows about it while they are so close. It’s only a 100 mile drive from Quartzsite to actually walking across the  border into Mexico and it’s one of the main reasons this is my winter camp
I’d guess I’ve saved more than $20,000 in the last 7 years by getting such cheap medical care. But the truth is I couldn’t afford that much and would have had my teeth extracted once the pain became unbearable–I simply can’t spend that much money on dental. I consider Algodones a god-send for those of us living on tight budgets.
My friend Will (in the Toyota camper) came along and stopped at Dr. Francos to see if they could fit him in and they could. It was a very successful trip for him.

My friend Will (in the Toyota camper) came along and stopped at Dr. Francos to see if they could fit him in and they could. It was a very successful trip for him.

I understand how reluctant many people are to cross the border because there is so much fear about traveling to Mexico, but after 7 years of visiting and, dozen of trips, I know just how easy and safe it is.  There’s always a lot of interest in putting together a caravan to go down as a group but it has never happened before. However, this year one of the crowns I had put on in December had a high spot on it so I needed to go back and get it ground down a bit. I’m too busy during the RTR to go so I had planned to go down after it was over. Because of all the interest in caravanning, and I needed to go anyway, this year I announced that we would all caravan together after the RTR on January 26 when I went to get my crown ground down.
While I as there I also shot a video of how to travel into Algodones, you can see the video here:
If you don’t see the video above, click or cut and paste this into your browser search bar:
The caravan trip went fairly smoothly and I was glad we did it. There were a few wrinkles to work out but those were my fault because I didn’t have a clear plan for everyone to follow. It went well enough that I’ll plan to do it after every RTR but in the future I’ll have a detailed plan and even maps for people to follow.
If you’re interested in more details about a trip into Algodones, here they are in a nutshell:

  1. You need a passport to get across the border. However, if you have a current passport but forgot it, you can still get through with just a drivers license.
  2. You can drive across but walking is much faster and easier. It costs $6 to park in the Quechen Indian Tribe parking lot and walk 5 minutes to be into Mexico. By far the best way!
  3. There are lots of great camping spots nearby if you need to stay overnight or longer. You can stay at the Quechen Casino for $3 a night or there is free land on the road along 186 toward the border. I usually stay on free, 14 day  BLM land near Pilot Knob LTVA off Exit 164 on I-8.
  4. I only go in the winter so my dog waits for me in the van. I’ve never taken my dog across and can think of no reason why I would.
  5. Entering Mexico is easy and painless by foot, they don’t speak to you in any way.
  6. It’s extremely safe and cheap once you are in. Many snowbirds in Yuma drive across just to have lunch.
  7. Getting there early is always best! If you’re early enough your glasses and crowns will both be done by that day and you can leave with them. If you get there later in the day they may not get done until the next day.
  8. Lots of places are closed on Saturday and Sunday so weekdays are best. Once the weather turns hot the crowds will be gone and you’ll be all alone.
  9. While getting in is super easy, returning to the USA means going through a border check which is usually very quick and simple. However, after noon the line starts to build and by 2:00 pm the line can be quite long. I’ve stood in line for 2 hours waiting to get back into the country. If you leave before noon there will probably be no line.
  10. No prescription is necessary for prescription drugs. You probably can’t get controlled substances at all.
  11. You are only allowed to buy 3 months at a time of your prescriptions and only allowed to bring back drugs for your personal use. If someone else is with me and they aren’t bringing medications back, I ask them to carry 3 months worth for me. I did that this year and got 300 days worth of drugs in one trip.
  12. There are hundreds of street vendors lining all the streets and they are somewhat annoying. I just remember they are hard working people just like me trying to provide for their families. I’m polite, friendly but firm with them. They all seem pretty convinced I’m Santa Claus and that I need to get a haircut!!!!

So there you have it, my annual report on Algodones, maybe you can travel across the border with us next year!

I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:

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  1. Lucy

    That’s so funny Bob, so mexicans want to chop off your hair & bear ?
    I had a good laugh when I read that line that says they believe U’re santa! LOL.
    My regards, Lucy.

    • Lucy

      Excellent information !

      • Bob

        Thanks Lucy.

    • Bob

      They have a sense of humor down there Lucy!

  2. John Bruce

    As far as teeth, my cousin is a retired dentist and really recommends the Sonicare electric toothbrush. And Sensodyne toothpaste because it is less abrasive. I know the cost is steep, but the investment is worth it, clean teeth are a very important part of your health.
    If you do or don’t have a dental plan, it behooves you all to take care of your teeth.
    (The sonicare needs charging every month or so, so it really is easy to maintain for an off the grid person, it doesn’t have to live on the charger. And they are sold with two units, you could split the cost with another person or gift the second one to someone else.) Just my two cents worth.

    • Bob

      Thanks John.

  3. Cae

    Great advice. US health care is so expensive it’s causing citizens to go elsewhere for help. Crossing the border for dental and medical?…..I’ve done it since 2011 and I’m a true believer in it.

    • Bob

      Thanks Cae!

  4. hank

    good info bob.
    since it can be crowded coming back into the US, do you have any feel for which are the best and worst months to visit algodones? you mentioned you normally go in Feb. is that because of smaller crowds? two hours in line would be a drag

    • Bob

      All the hot months have very little traffic but I won’t go down there in the heat. So November is best, December next, January and February are the peak and March is still fairly bad. October and April are too hot for me.

  5. Foster and Parents

    Hi Bob,
    Thank you for the great information. Just some quick questions. What forms of payment do the doctors and pharmacies accept? Does it have to be in Mexican money or do they accept US dollars? Do any of them accept credit cards, Debit cards or checks? Also, would the pharmacies carry veterinary prescriptions? Just want to be prepared when we go.

    • Bob

      They all take American dollars, some but not all take cards. There is one vet but surprisingly I didn;t think it was any cheaper.

  6. CamperCouple

    Another question wwould be, with so many different Dentists to choose from, how do you go about selecting which one is best ? If memory serves, didn’t you used to go to a different one ?

    • Bob

      I went to blogs and got recommendations and word of mouth reports. Yes, I changed dentists. I went to Rubio and they are excellent, but I don’t think they were doing preventative medicine. It was like they expected me to lose them so they could do an implant.

  7. Chuck

    The casino hotel your talking about for $3. I take it thats on the mexico side?

    • Bob

      No, it’s right by the freeway. Glad you found the map!

  8. Chuck

    I’am sorry I skipped your map , I see it Thanks

  9. Cathy P.

    It sounds good and looks good, but still, I haven’t been outside the borders of the US. I really like Bob’s walk thrus and drive thrus because it is like he has you by the hand, knows what you might be uncomfortable or confused about, etc. I was never good with you go right, turn at the light, you’ll see a big sign…no actually I won’t see it as I am “visual” person and all those words just got me so mixed up that I don’t know where I am right now.

    • Bob

      Cathy, I’m the same way so I plan the videos to get around that!

  10. Nora

    Thanks so much for taking the time to video this. And thanks to July for doing the driving. How much time a week do you spend on your blog, forum and videos? It must be a lot because you sure do give us a lot of information. I’m hoping in 23 months to be out there. Again thanks for all your time and effort

    • Bob

      Thank yo Judy. I have to admit I work at it a lot! But if you love what yo do, you never a work a day of your life!

  11. Nora

    Whoops, sorry Judy not july. My phone self corrected

  12. joe

    I have to get a tooth pulled on Wed the 10 th I have state ins so no cost but iI.m not happy about losing another tooth I lost many over the years my back molars are almost gone no more steaks for me some day when I get rich I would liketo go down to mexico hope your visit goes well

    • Lucy

      Lacking molars ?? We can always buy ground meat, can’t we ?

    • Bob

      Joe, you can get an impant and get new molars for $1100 in Algodones.

  13. Teri Live Oak Fl

    No prescription needed? You just tell the drug store what you need? If you can only get 3 months worth can you go the next day and do the same? Thanks. This would help a lot.

    • Bob

      Teri, no prescription needed, just tell the pharmacist what you need. You can go back as often as you like, that’s how I usually get a years worth. If you go with someone else who isn’t buying drugs they can carry yours for you as well.

      • Roxanne Montgomery

        Bob, you said no controlled substances. I take a couple. Is there a way to get them legally there, and could I get them back across the border? I certainlyou don’t want to spend my time in a Mexican jail!

  14. Canine

    I’ve had concerns about going into Mexico, but since they want the business, they apparently treat visitors pretty well. Would you describe it as sincerely welcoming or just polite because they need to support the money coming in?
    With your Blogs I am now looking forward to going across the border even if it is only for a test run. It would be nice to go with a trusted person at least the first time. Thank you.

    • Bob

      Canine, in my experience the Mexican people tend be happier, friendly and more outgoing than we are. I think they aren’t just after our money, it’s more who they are.

  15. Jeff Johnston

    I duno. Im on Obamacare and my 600 dollar monthly premium is reduced to 65 dollars a month with a subsidy. Excellent insurance from Blue Cross. Works for me! I couldnt be a van gypsy without the godsend Obamacare. Hope the republicans dont destroy it along with the environment. Jeff in the wonderful Ocala National forest in Florida.

    • Canine

      I just paid a penalty of $584. If I acquired healthcare, it would cost me $330 per month with a $6000 deductible. That is too big a bridge for me to cross; crossing the border would be cheaper. Am looking forward to using some of the healthcare across the border.

      • Jeff Johnston

        My deductible is 500 dollars with a max out of pocket of 1500 dollars for the year. 20 copay for office visit, 0 for generic prescriptions.Too good to be true.

    • Bob

      Jeff, I’m also on Obamacare and it works great for me. But I don”t have dental or eyeglasses so I provide my own.

    • Dusti Street

      Hi Jeff!
      I lived in Ocklawaha for 11 years. My parents were there for over 25 years. Loved it very much.
      Right now I’m couch surfing at my daughter and SIL’s house in South Florida (I hate it down here). The forest is the best!

  16. Cam Courcier

    I have traveled up and down (and round and round) the Baja for about 25 years.
    I enjoy its friendly people and I feel that it’s safer there than it is here in the US.
    If you have any desire to see it do it soon, its changing into the US quickly.
    I’m leaving in 2 days for yet another trip down, this time in my AWD Dodge Caravan conversion.
    I am looking forward to doing some off road exploring (with the new love of my life) on this trip.
    This is yet another downsize from 9 years full-time in my Toyota micro mini.
    I have been sailing and RVing for a very long time but I am pretty much a newbie to van camping.
    Wish me luck.

    • Bob

      Cam, glad to hear that you’ve had such a good time in Baja. It sounds like you’ve had a great life as a nomad, van camping will be easy for you!

  17. John Bruce

    This is a real public service you did here Bob!

    • Bob

      Thanks John!

  18. Carl

    Thank you for taking us to Mexico!
    Lots of great information!
    Please keep up the good job!!
    That would make a great vacation!

    • Bob

      Carl, yes it would and you’d probably save enough to pay for the whole trip.

  19. Al Christensen

    Los Algodones can also be your literal gateway to the rest of Mexico. I just spent a couple of weeks in Baja and I’m going back in a few days. 😉

    • Bob

      Al you are a whole lot braver than I am at this point!

  20. Bethers

    Hi Bob,
    How do you make an initial
    appointment with a dentist. Through their website, phone, or drop by in person?

    • Bob

      Bethers, no appointment is necessary at most dentists down there, you can just drop in. The largest and most famous clinics do need an appointment but they’re the exception.

  21. Kathy

    Love your blog. A lot of good stuff. Laid off again and want to sell my mobile and by small travel trailer. My 2 biggest fears are healthcare I am on 2 meds I need always. Then of course money I am not retired and have a ways to get there so would need to work. I am so ready to be fulltime RV. Also mail what do you do about an address? Happy trails!

    • Bob

      Kathy, depending on your income getting Obomacare is not that hard even as a Nomad. The big thre jobs for RVers are 1) Campground Host in the National Forest 2) working the beet harvest, 3)work at Amazon at the holidays. I use a mail forwarder in my home state of Nevada. I’m going to do a video on it very soon.

  22. Lisa

    I’m just coming across this info ~ THANK YOU so much Bob! I look forward to your emails and really enjoy your blog but somehow missed this one. Not yet full time but working towards it and covering my own dental and eye care. After paying US prices for two crowns, a root canal, and finally an implant, all on one tooth, I am DONE with that. I had considered medical tourism before and was looking into it, but was honestly a bit nervous about it. Seeing your first-hand account tells me I can do this! Thanks again and I hope to meet you out on the road one day or at the next RTR gathering.

    • Bob

      Lisa, you can save so much money down there and it really is high quality work. I think you will be glad you went!

  23. Momdukes01

    Bob, Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! I’ve just found your posts and YouTube videos and they are a godsend. I’ve been thinking about this for over a year and have watched so many YouTube videos my kids lovingly refer to me as the “YouTube Queen”.
    Not procrastinating at all. Just want to be well informed and safe, since I’ll be on the road alone. Been thinking about getting a rescue dog or two to travel with me. First for companionship and also for a little bit more safety.
    Your videos and blogs are so informative and answer so many of my questions. I was terrified of going into Mexico. TERRIFIED!! Not so much anymore. Thanks to this video.
    Please continue doing what you’re doing. I really appreciate you.
    Be blessed and stay safe out there.

    • Bob

      Thank you so much for your very encouraging comment, I appreciate it!

  24. Dusti Street

    Mr. Bob, you have saved my sanity!
    You have shown me that I can live the Life that the good LORD put me here to live.
    I will be leaving South Florida the end of this year (2016) to be the Nomad that I was born to be!
    Thank you for all your great videos and information.
    This one really helped as I am on medications, wear eyeglasses, and need new dentures.
    ~Dusti Street

    • Bob

      Thanks Dusti, we’ve got to help each other in every way we can!

  25. gasgirl2001

    Thanks for sharing all your knowledge. We love listening/watching your videos and reading from your extensive collection of articles. All presented in a helpful manner.
    Thank you!

    • Bob

      Thanks you so much, it’s my pleasure to be of some small service to you. Bob

  26. Randy

    I am going to become a vandewellers just doing some research a couple reservation they will work out. Saving up money to buy descent van to live.thank you Bob your blog are very informative you are doing a great service for vandewellers

    • Bob

      Thanks Randy, I’m glad to help in any way I can!

  27. Rachel

    Hi Bob,
    I may have missed it but which dentist do you see?
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • Bob

      I go to Rubio for my implants and Franco for everything else.

  28. Rachel

    I may have missed it but which Dentist do you see, in Mexico?
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • Bob

      I see Rubio for implants and Franco for everything else.

  29. Holly-Ann

    Wow, great advice. Thanks so much! I’ve resided in Arizona for a year now and cant believe I never thought if this. Im 22 and am set on getting braces. Its something that has always bothered me about myself but now thanks to you I have found a solution <3 <3 <3

    • Bob

      Thanks Holly-Ann, I’m sure that will work out relly well for you!

  30. Kayla S Milner

    Bob! This has been so helpful and inspiring since I was worrying about ways to acquire medicine if and when my future husband and I are finally ready to travel. Now my prescription in the states gives me 60 pills a month. Could I still get 3 months worth aka 180 pills and could my future husband do the same? In reality it would cover us for only 6 months though. So we would have to make a pilgrimage there twice a year. Do they make dentures? Cause by then my future husband will have dentures. Or should we just wait to have all his dental work done down there?

    • Bob

      Kayla, while you are limited to a 3 month supply per trip, there is no limit on the number of trips you can make. So you carry 3 months, hubby carries 3 months, and that’s 6 months. The next day you go back and do it again and that is the whole year. Often when you get glasses they will be done later that day, so I cross the border early and buy the glasses and 3 months worth of drugs, go back to the USA. Then later that day pick up the glasses and get another 3 months of prescriptions. Then the next day cross again and get the rest.
      They do all dental work! And its very good and very cheap.

  31. Jim Kottinger

    Thank you Bob for all your help I am getting reddy to go full time. If don’t mine can I called on you again.
    God bless

    • Bob

      Jim, sure, you can email me at any time.

  32. Ron

    I’m setting in the casino lot right now and it’s free they may start charging when the crowds get here in prescriptions are cheaper here than my copays are. They are the exact same product.I got new dentures, my wife got an implant this is how people can survive. Many vendors have a sense of humor about what they do…my favorite line this trip is “please buy from me…we have to pay for the wall.

  33. debra gage

    Great info- I love this community and I haven’t even met them yet. I’m estimating getting into Ehrenberg before New years eve hoping to start meeting folks before the RTR.

  34. Scott Clancy

    One big hold off for me is dealing with perscription meds,
    Here’s the important ones.
    *Beta blocker [cheap to buy on line even here.]
    *Alpha blocker [cheap to buy on line even here.]
    *Blood Thinner affordable generics available.
    *Potassium Chlorate. Not sure of cash price but maybe a nutritious suppliment can replace.
    *Preluent a 700 dollar twice a month shot for fatty liver disease and cholesterol buster.
    —–This is the big deal. I get it for a ten dollar co pay
    but when I go on medicade, I doubt they will support it.
    And if they do, I need prescriptions for all these things.
    Big problem, If you carry prescription drugs on the road and have no prescription isn’t that ilegle? One road block search and your rv is seased?
    Other problem , need a home based doctor to renew these prescriptions and most will not do so if you can not come into their office at least once every 3 months. I live in Tennessee which to my surprise is getting awfully fascist about cheap housing, So when I retire I will leave the state, my family resides in new england so the more liberal free south western states are out of my scope right now. This is a long term plan, I am working a good job right now but will retire in 5 years with only SS retirement. 1300/month. And my health as you can see is high maintenance $$.
    I am allergic to Statin medicine so the preluent is a must.
    My goal is a southern location not to far west, and remain in a 200 mile radius of a home based doctor and the 2 week camp site limit is a %$#@ you get the drift.

    • Roxanne Montgomery

      Scott, thank you for asking the agonizing questions I also have about my meds!

  35. albert paradis

    I need new detures do they do that in Algodones if so how much.

  36. David

    You are driving a new economy. I hope you soon have a show like “Fixer Upper” that details out your ideas. You have had a very positive effect on my life and I am sure thousands of others. I stopped by an RV delivery company you mentioned. They have no idea why they suddenly have hundreds of applicants instead of the handful they are accustomed to having.

  37. Sunny

    Hi Bob – If we go down there in the hot months, should we expect off-season pricing? I went in June (it was hot, but not like parts of AZ). Anyway I felt there should be a discount for their slow season. Would it be ok to negotiate?

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