Traveling from the United States to Mexico is a popular route that many Americans take for vacations, family visits, and business trips. With Mexico bordering the southern US, it may seem like the trip would be short and fast. However, the time it takes to travel to Mexico can vary significantly depending on your starting point in the US, mode of transportation, border crossing location, and final destination in Mexico.
Factors That Affect Travel Time
There are several key factors that impact how long it will take you to travel from the US to Mexico:
Location in the US
The further north and east you are starting from in the US, the longer the journey will be. For those departing from southern border states like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, the trip is much shorter than someone leaving from New York or Washington.
Mode of Transportation
Driving yourself, flying, or taking a bus/train can drastically affect travel times. Flight is the fastest but road trips allow more flexibility. Train and bus times can vary greatly depending on routes.
Border Crossing Point
There are over 40 land ports of entry along the US-Mexico border. Which one you choose and how busy it is will determine border crossing times. The main crossings tend to have more traffic.
Final Destination in Mexico
Where in Mexico your final destination is also changes total travel time. If you stay near the border the trip is shorter than traveling deep into mainland Mexico.
Driving Times from Key US Cities
For those choosing to drive their own vehicle from the US to Mexico, here are some approximate driving times to popular destinations:
From Los Angeles to Tijuana: About 2.5-3 hours
From Phoenix to Nogales: Around 3.5-4 hours
From Houston to Matamoros: Roughly 5.5-6 hours
From Dallas to Monterrey: About 10-11 hours
As you can see, those departing from southern US cities can reach the Mexican border in under a day’s drive. Not surprisingly, further destinations like Mexico City can take nearly 24 hours of non-stop driving from Dallas.
Border wait times for driving can also vary greatly based on traffic volumes. Give yourself plenty of extra time during peak travel periods.
Flight Times to Top Mexican Destinations
For those looking to fly to Mexico from the US, flight times will be shorter but you still need to factor in airport arrival and transportation from the airport. Here are estimated total travel times by air from some major US airports:
New York City to Cancun: About 6 hours total
Chicago to Mexico City: Around 5 hours total
Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas: Approximately 3.5 hours total
Houston to Cancun: About 3.75 hours total
As you can see, flights to beach destinations on Mexico’s coasts tend to be shorter than internal flights to Mexico City from northern departure points. The good news is most US cities can reach Mexico in under 6 hours air travel time.
Train and Bus Travel Times
For those not wanting to take on the long drive themselves, train and bus travel are options. This does add transfers and variability in schedules. Here are some sample routes and durations:
Bus from San Diego to Tijuana: 2-3 hours with border crossing
Train from San Antonio to Monterrey: Around 12 hours
Bus from Dallas to Mexico City: Roughly 22-28 hours depending on routes
Buses that cross direct to the border are fastest while routes to inland Mexican cities can really vary in duration. Make sure to plan for potential delays at the border which can extend train and bus travel times.
How Long Does It Take to Travel From the US to Mexico?
As you can see, travel time from the US to Mexico can range from as little as 2.5 hours driving from southern California all the way up to 24+ hours heading deep into Mexico from departure points like Dallas.
Key factors that change travel time include your US departure location, chosen transportation mode, border crossing point, and final Mexican destination. Those on the southern US border can reach many parts of Mexico in under a day’s drive while northern US cities should expect air travel times of 3-6 hours not counting airport logistics.
No matter where you are coming from, build in plenty of extra time for border crossings and unexpected delays. If time is limited, consider driving or flying direct to Mexican destinations near the US-Mexico border. But for those with flexibility, Mexico’s interior cities and colonial towns are worth the extra travel time.
Proper planning will ensure you make the most of your time visiting Mexico no matter how long it takes you to get there from the United States. Safe travels!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the drive from Texas to Cancun?
The drive from the most southern parts of Texas like Brownsville to Cancun is about 20-22 hours covering over 1,500 miles. From northern Texas cities like Dallas, the drive time can be up to 30 hours covering nearly 2,000 miles.
How long does it take to get from LA to Cabo?
The drive from Los Angeles, California down to the tip of Baja California in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico takes around 24-26 hours covering 1,250 miles. This doesn’t account for border wait times. Flights from LAX to CAB are around 2.5-3 hours.
What is the fastest way to get from New York City to Mexico City?
The fastest way to travel from New York City to Mexico City is to fly direct. There are many daily nonstop flights covering this route that take around 4.5-6 hours gate-to-gate. Driving would take 3-4 days covering over 2,500 miles.
How long does it take to drive from Phoenix to Puerto Penasco?
The drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Puerto Penasco on the northern Mexico coast takes approximately 5-6 hours covering around 370 miles. This accounts for border wait times at Nogales. It’s one of the quicker driving routes.
Is taking a train or bus faster than driving to Mexico?
Train and bus times can be faster than driving yourself but not always. Buses that take direct routes to the border crossings can be quick. But any route going deep into Mexico may involve multiple stops and can take longer than driving non-stop. Trains also have limited routes beyond the US border towns.