Two primary areas of professional study in Baja California draw students from around the world: sociology and marine biology.
Students of social sciences enroll in the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (www.uabc.mx ) to study the emerging border culture in Tijuana. UABC has campuses in Tijuana , Tecate , and Mexicali .
Marine biologists study at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja Calfornia Sur (www.uabcs.mx ).
You may find opportunities for internships with international conservation organizations or with outfitters that run kayak, scuba diving, and other trips. Or you can enroll in a Spanish-language school.
Baja can be a difficult place to travel independently if you have mobility needs. Sidewalks are uneven with many sudden drop-offs, and older buildings often do not have elevators or ramps; however, many of the larger resorts do provide wheelchair access, and we are starting to see an occasional Pemex station (San Ignacio), campground (Baja Expeditions at Laguna San Ignacio), vacation rental (Coco Cabañas de Loreto), and other facilities built to accommodate travelers with disabilities. Mobility International USA (www.miusa.org ) has extensive information and advice for planning and enjoying overseas travel.
Baja is without question a family-friendly destination. People are warm and inviting toward children, and there are many suitable activities for kids of all ages. With the exception of a few adult-only resorts, most accommodations are happy to have families as their guests, and the bed configurations can usually be adjusted to work for families that want to share a room or suite.
Parents and guardians should take extra precaution to supervise young children. Beaches and swimming pools typically do not have lifeguards. Keep a close eye on kids near the water at all times. From scorpions to cactus thorns in the desert to uneven sidewalks and unmarked construction areas in towns, there are hazards you may not be used to at home. Bring a first-aid kit to treat minor wounds and insect bites and over-the-counter medicines or home remedies in case of illness. Protective clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and pants that can be worn in hot weather will help prevent sunburn, scrapes, and insect bites. Sunhats and sunscreen are essential packing items. You may also want plenty of hand sanitizer to wash up after trips to public restrooms and before eating meals on the go. Remind children not to drink the tap water.
For infants, bring a mosquito netting that can cover your stroller, backpack, or travel crib. A backpack is more convenient than a stroller, unless you are staying at one resort. You can buy infant formula, diapers, toys, and most other baby supplies (including the U.S. brands) at the larger supermarkets in Baja, including Mega and Soriana. These stores also have pharmacies in case you need prescription medication. And they are well stocked with toys, art supplies, and beach gear for older children.
If you venture away from the busiest tourist centers, you may find yourself far from a full-service hospital in case of an emergency. Before leaving home, find the location and contact information for the nearest medical clinics along your itinerary. Bring contact information for your doctor at home, and if you are worried about access to medical care, consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance from Aeromedevac (toll-free Mex. tel. 800/832-5087, U.S. tel. 619/284-7910, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/462-0911, www.aeromedevac.com ), Air Evac Services, Inc. (U.S. tel. 602/244-9327, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/321-9522, www.airevac.com ), Advanced Aeromedical Air Ambulance Service (toll-free U.S. tel. 800/346-3556, www.aeromedic.com ), and SkyMed (toll-free Mex. tel. 866/805-9624, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/475-9633, www.skymed.com ).
Women traveling alone who have some prior experience with overseas travel need not think twice about planning a relaxing resort vacation to the Los Cabos Corridor . Transportation to or from the airport can be arranged ahead of time, and you can plan a wide range of group activities through your hotel.
There are a few more factors to consider if you want to venture into the more remote areas of the peninsula. Driving long distances solo is not recommended unless you speak Spanish and are self-sufficient in automotive troubleshooting. Rental cars frequently have maintenance problems, and you may be far from a mechanic when trouble arises. If you travel by bus, you will often have long walks or cab rides from the highway to the beach. It’s also riskier and hard to enjoy the many outdoor activities without a travel companion for safety. Consider booking an organized trip through an outfitter if the cost is not prohibitive, or try to meet up with other solo travelers once you arrive. Enrolling in a Spanish-language school is another way to find meet fellow travelers.
With an appropriate sense of adventure, travelers of any age can enjoy the outdoor recreation and desert/tropical charm that Baja has to offer. In fact, older travelers are one of the largest groups of visitors to the destination each year. At the start of every winter, flocks of snowbirds with empty nests arrive by plane, boat, and RV to enjoy the desert/tropical environment. Some return home to the United States, Canada, or Europe after the winter season; others choose to make Baja their new permanent residence. Travelers aged 50 and up will find friendly gringo communities in Los Cabos , Los Barriles , Cabo Pulmo , Todos Santos , La Paz , Loreto , Mulegé , and many other coastal towns and campgrounds.
Gay and lesbian travelers should feel comfortable traveling throughout the Baja Peninsula. Alyson Adventures (U.S. tel. 800/825-9766, www.alysonadventures.com ) is a leader in adventure travel for gay men, lesbians, and “open-minded friends and family who enjoy tours with a gay flair.” In recent years, it has offered a guided kayak trip to Baja, but it did not have a trip on its calendar at press time due to reduced demand for travel to the region. It’s still worth a call to ask about information and advice for planning your own trip.
The more international and cosmopolitan regions of Tijuana, La Paz, and Los Cabos will have more options for accommodations, entertainment, and nightlife. The expat community in bohemian Todos Santos also welcomes GLBT travelers. Consult the Purple Roofs GLBT Travel Directory (www.purleroofs.com ) for a current listing of accommodations in Mexico that give an especially warm welcome to gay and lesbian travelers. Here are a few examples: