Living in San Diego, CA I have the opportunity to access several airports. San Diego International, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana/Orange County, Long Beach Airport, LAX in Los Angeles; but lately when I travel to Mexico and for my first trip to South America, my fiancé and I decided to travel out if Tijuana Mexico Airport and let me show you why we chose this airport and our journey.
My fiancé and I headed to Puerto Vallarta for my birthday in May 2017. The airfare from TIJ (Tijuana international Airport) vs SAN (San Diego International Airport) is nearly $175 more. See the price comparison below.
If you plan to drive to Cross Border Xpress the parking per day is $17, another option is a $10 CBX shuttle that runs from Downtown San Diego Santa Fe Train Station every 2 hours from 8:30am to 8:30pm and on demand till 2am.
2. Purchase a Cross Border Xpress Pass, you can do this through Volaris or other airlines websites when booking your flight, or you can purchase through the Cross Border Xpress website or at the location itself. A one way adult ticket costs $15 and you can also purchase a round trip ticket for $30. I find it's easiest to purchase directly from Cross Border Xpress on their website and print the tickets from home. You can also print your boarding pass when you get to Cross Border Xpress. At this time, they don't have a ticket that can be scanned from an electronic device.
3. This one is an easy one, but also very important. Don't forget your PASSPORT! You will not be able to cross without one. You will also need to go to the counter to request a Mexican Visa form also known as a tourist card. I highly suggest you bring your own pen, because the pens there are similar to the community DMV pens, they are cheap and most of them don't work.
4. Tourist Card/ Temporary Mexican Visa Form; a tourist card is required for all tourists from US and Canada. The form is easy to fill out and takes a few minutes. The following is needed to be filled out for the TOP and BOTTOM portion. You can download the PDF form here or go to the ticket counter to get one, they are free. www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html
The Cross Border Xpress attendant will check for the following 4 items before allowing you to cross over:
- Cross Border Xpress Ticket
- Airline Boarding Pass
- Mexican Visa Tourist Form
What to expect when you get to Border Cross Xpress:Once you get to the location, there is a drop off/pick up area, much like the airport, they have security our front, and cars are not allowing to be waiting in that area, but there is usually tons of street parking just right outside the CBX location, if you have a friend going to pick you up. Also, the parking lot of $17 per day is literally right across the entrance way.
The lobby area is much like an airport check in counter, there are kiosks to print your boarding pass and several airline ticket counters if you needed to purchase an airline ticket there.
The CBX attendant will scan and check your ticket, boarding pass, tourism form, and passport then you will pass through US customs, you must put your bag through the X-ray scanning machine before going up the escalators to the enclosed pedestrian bridge. It's about a 5 minute walk.
Going down the escalators, you will approach Mexican Customs where you show your completed tourist card and passport. You must get in line to press a button that either turns the light red, which means you were selected for random bag search where you put your bag through the X-ray scanning machine again, or turns the light green which allows you to bypass this process and allows you into enter the Tijuana airport terminal.
Once entered in the terminal, you can check your bags at the ticket counter and proceed through security to your gate. I would suggest giving yourself plenty of time for this, I happened to wait in line over 30 minutes because there wasn't enough staff at the ticket counter to check everyone's bags, the line got very long.
One checked piece of luggage at Volaris used to be free, now starting March 1, 2017 there is an extra cost to and from Mexico and Puerto Rico. It's cheaper to add a checked bag under 55 lbs. during the time you book your flight vs buying it at the airport. ($15 vs $18).
Since we were in Santiago, Chile, I wanted to spend a few days in Mendoza, Argentina. I love wine, and an Argentinian Malbec is probably one of my favorites. Its a quick flight from Santiago to Mendoza (45 Min - 1 Hour), just right over the Andes mountains. Roundtrip airfare for two through SKY Airlines cost us $245 USD total. Its a small town with a population of about 115,000 people. Similar to the size of the Santa Barbara. The temperature in late February was hot, in the 90s. There are two major wine regions in Mendoza, Lujan de Cujo & Uco Valley. They are opposite of each other and its best to spend one day in each region. If I ever go back again, I will stay in the Uco Valley Region the entire time.
We stayed at the Park Hyatt Medoza Casino & Spa. The rooms were very nice and updated and we had a nice view of the city. I got to check out the Casino for a bit, there is quite a selection of games but they didn't have a Craps table and thats the only casino game I really play. The hotel gave me a voucher to play some games so I played the slots until I ran out of money.
Things To Do:
Wine tasting of course!!! I can't say enough about the experience with Mendoza Journeys. They picked us up from our hotel and drove us to several wineries in Uco Valley, they were very accommodating and would use them again and again in the future. Its about a 2 hour drive from the city center of Mendoza so be prepared to spend the entire day in Uco Valley. After watching Chef's Table on Netflix, I was dying to go to Siete Fuegos at the Vines Resort & Spa. Although very expensive, if I were to go back to Argentina, I would stay at this resort the entire time. We also visited the following wineries: Andeluna, La Azul, & Finca Sophenia.
We also went White Water Rafting with Potrerillos Explorer. They picked us up from our hotel and we drove through Lujan de Cuyo towards the mountains. We had the BEST time. They set you up with all the gear you need and all the safety protocols. You can buy the GoPro videos and pictures at the end of your excursion. Kyle almost fell out of the raft!!!! Watch one of our rafting videos below.
We ended our trip going to another Francis Mallmann restaurant in Mendoza called 1884 Restaurant. Its a bit hidden, so we weren't sure if we got to our destination when we got to the parking lot. You must have a reservation to enter and there are two large doors and security to get the front door of the restaurant. The food was fantastic!