Travel blogger and podcaster Jackie Laulainen from TheBudgetMindedTraveler tells us how she and her husband spent an incredible six weeks in Mexico for just $1,500 – about $17.85 per day, per person. They went to Baja California Sur, which (along with the Riviera Maya) is one of the safest regions of Mexico and also a popular expat destination.
Click here to read our latest article on the safety of living and traveling in Mexico.
Despite what you may expect to find price-wise on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and specifically in its most well known luxury destination,Cabo San Lucas, this fabulous region actually has everything it takes for a perfect budget vacation. First, Laulainen recommends considering programs like Workaway, which provides a place for hosts to connect with service providers from around the world in exchange for a free place to stay and at least one meal per day.
“The majority of Workaway hosts are families or couples with guest quarters in their homes who are looking for help with a variety of duties, from cooking, gardening, childcare or housework, to language practice, painting, computer work, photography, repairs, construction and much, much, more,” writes Laulainen for Yahoo! Travel.
On their latest visit to Mexico, Laulainen and her husband enjoyed a spacious private room via Workaway, including access to a shared bathroom, limited WiFi and fabulous ocean views. The host was an expat who simply needed some help with random projects around the home, along with minimal assistance managing online accounts. He did not require a set schedule, which left the couple free to explore or relax as they wished.
“We shopped at local grocery stores and cooked most of our own meals, while still allowing ourselves to go out and eat at times,” shared Laulainen. “You won’t break the bank with taco-truck tacos.”
Next, when it comes to securing an affordable flight to Mexico, Laulainen says it’s all about planning and knowing how to find a good deal. For example, the high season in Baja ends each year after spring break, so by early April deals are typically plentiful. In fact, from late March through early May, the cost of a round trip ticket – even from small town airports – can be as low as $400.
When searching for affordable airfare, Laulainen recommends checking a variety of different flight search engines, such as Orbitz, CheapAir, Hotwire, Kayak, Vayama or Expedia. Of course, the actual airline websites are also a good place to look, and keep in mind that many airlines put out sales on Monday nights, making Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Thursdays the most affordable days to purchase. Finally, be sure to check across multiple days of the weeks and months around when you want to travel to Mexico. This will help you determine the trends, as well as the best times to fly.
If your idea of the perfect vacation involves relaxing and escaping the daily grind,Mexico is the perfect place to take it slow and save money by enjoying the many free sights, sounds and activities. On the other hand, if exploring the region and experiencing everything it has to offer is paramount on your list of “wants,” it may be necessary to budget a bit extra to cover some of the activities.
“Snorkeling is among the amazing activities you can do for free,” shares Laulainen. “We could easily have spent hundreds of dollars very quickly. Instead, we watched the whales from our front porch, enjoyed bonfires on the beach, watched the stars at night, checked out every cheap taco truck we could find and even attended a few local baseball games and festivals.”
By checking out the many options and deciding ahead of time which activities you want to indulge in and which you do not, it’s easy to enjoy a relaxing stay without breaking the bank. Laulainen and her husband snorkeled with sea lions, kayaked in crystal green waters, drank tequila sunrises at THE Hotel California, saw the Cabo arch, picked up some special local items to take home and still managed to spend less than $400 on entertainment.
What’s the best budget vacation you ever experienced? Share your stories with other readers in the comments section below today!