Today I have a fantastic post from you from the very lovely Hannah over at Frugal Bride to be all about how to keep costs down in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Mexico is somewhere I’d love to go but haven’t yet made it there so in the meantime, Hannah offered to tell you all about her experience.
Over to you Hannah….
Hi everyone, I’m a 27 yr old female blogger called Hannah who has recently relocated to Manchester, UK. I am on a mission to save up enough money to pay for our wedding and furnish our new home that we will be moving into on June 19. My blog is all about ways to save money and get yourselves to that financial goal, be it getting out of debt, maintaining a level bank account or saving up for something amazing.
You can find more about me and some of my favourite ways to save the cash at Frugal Bride to be.
No matter where you are in your savings journey, one thing I think we should all do is to have a treat every now and again. Now, this can be something simple like having your nails done or buying the luxury brand of biscuits from the supermarket OR it could be a bit bigger like a holiday…
One thing that me and my partner have done for the past couple of years is to treat ourselves to a January holiday. Ultimately we chose January because it’s the month he’s quietest at work so it’s easier to get off but it can also be a lot cheaper if you shop around for deals as it’s off peak season.
Every year I take part in the 365 day penny saving challenge which has enabled us to spend a bit more on our holiday and go to some really nice places; Egypt, Cuba and Mexico to start us off…
In this post, I’m going to talk about our recent trip to Mexico, despite it being our most expensive holiday so far we could have easily spent a lot more if we’d not been as careful and hadn’t planned our week as much. I’m going to talk about how we managed to have an amazing week without breaking the bank.
Save up before you book
I know quite a few people who will book their holiday way in advance and then pay it off month by month on the countdown. Personally, I much prefer to save throughout the whole year and then buy the holiday outright when we find a deal that suits us. We booked our trip to Mexico on Black Friday in order to get a discounted rate. By this time the holiday was already slightly cheaper because it was now classed as ‘last minute’ so the extra £150 off each was definitely not to be sniffed at! We managed to get such a good deal because we held out and watched the prices drop the nearer we got to the flight dates and then made the most of the limited offer. If we’d have booked it months before we would have paid the premium cost and not got this discount.
We booked our first holiday to Egypt 10 days before we flew and managed to get a week, all inclusive, 4* hotel with a water park for just £500 each – I am a keen believer in last minute deals being the best!!
Plan your week before you get out there
This is almost as fun as actually booking your holiday right… TripAdvisor is my favourite here! We typically spend hours researching all the different activities and places around the local area that we will be staying to decide what we want to do. Not only is it fun but it gets you so excited for the holiday!!
We found this especially important in Mexico as we had seen all of the different ‘theme parks’ they have out there and they all looked amazing but there wasn’t physically the time or money for us to go to them all. By having the time to look at them all – thank you to YouTube for countless videos – we were able to pinpoint the one park that we wanted to go to. And we weren’t disappointed! But more on that later 😉
Hire a car
One of the best decisions that we made was to hire a car for a couple of days before we flew out. Had we waited until we were at the hotel to book the car it would have cost double the amount that we paid due to the advanced online booking promotion that we’d managed to get. We always thought hiring a car would be really expensive but you’d be surprised… for £30 (including insurance) we got a lovely new car that we were free to go anywhere in. This was from Europcar to so it was a reputable brand that we trusted.
Having the car allowed us to complete a load of different activities that would have cost us so much more if we’d gone as part of an organised trip or excursion.
Must visit places in Playa Del Carmen!
These were amazing and something that definitely took me by surprise, I didn’t imagine they’d be anywhere near as impressive as they actually were. You pay a small entrance fee to enter the site (after walking a fair way it has to be said as parking is a nightmare but don’t let that put you off) and there’s a short climb up some steps to visit the site but the views are incredible!
How much does this scream paradise…? I’m not going to show the ruins as I think the surprise is one of the best bits of this place!!
After a few hours wandering around and a bit of a snorkel in the sea (our favourite activity) we headed back into Tulum itself.
This little village is amazing; we drove down to try and find the iconic ‘Tulum’ sign and spent a bit of time wandering around the streets and looking at the various shops on offer.
Akumal (Turtle) beach
Omg this was amazing and probably the one thing I have spoken to absolutely EVERYONE about. Ever since we saw Mexico as a holiday destination I had wanted to swim with a turtle and having the car meant we could do this.
Now, there are quite a few tips when it comes to visiting here as the locals will try to bombard you and get you to spend your money with them instead of the actual venue as there are loads of trips that come here due to it being the best place to swim with turtles. The trips themselves can be quite expensive (about £100 each) whereas going on our own cost us a fraction of this and the majority of that was parking – if you want more info you can happily message me and I’ll answer anything you want to know.
The sea when we went was a bit choppy but we swam on out and were desperate to find a turtle. The best tip is to keep an eye out for seagrass on the sea bed and that’s where you’ll have the best chance as it’s what the turtles eat.
If you do a bit of research on cenotes in Mexico, you will find loads… depending on what you want to do different ones will suit you better. No questions asked though they are all amazing! If you’re not aware cenotes are basically natural lakes or caves that have formed and most a literally a couple of minutes off the main roads. They all charge different rates depending on how popular they are – the most popular are the most expensive…
Because of the vastly different prices (varying from £15-£100+ I would definitely recommend you look at a few online before deciding which one to go to – or maybe even go to a couple of the cheaper ones instead of the expensive ones. You’ll have an amazing time no matter which one you go to and if you snorkel you will pretty much be guaranteed to see fish as a minimum!
It’s amazing how clear the water is and how tranquil the area can be! You are basically in the middle of nowhere swimming through a river amongst hundreds of fish and wildlife all around you.
There are loads of these on the same stretch of road in Mexico;
These are all quite different so again I would say have a look at them all online before deciding where you want to go – I would also say watch YouTube videos and read TripAdvisor reviews as they give a much more realistic opinion than the site videos. If you’ve got the time and money to go to them all the go ahead but they aren’t the cheapest parks – especially if you’re travelling as a family so we decided to try just one.
That one was Xenses and we weren’t disappointed with our choice! This place is like absolutely nowhere else I’ve been and ‘The Street’ inside is amazing and another world. The only regret (a very strong word which isn’t right) is that we didn’t take more photos.
When you go in everyone in your party will be given a photo band, at every part of the park there are photo opportunities. Looking back, I would have taken at least 2 at every one!! This is because when you buy your photos – which you probably will when you see them, you pay a set amount per person regardless of how many photos you’ve taken. I think we paid £30 for both of us and we had around 150 photos. However, had we taken 15 photos or 500 photos the price would have been the same… don’t get me wrong I love the photos we’ve got but because of this I’d have loved even more. I am a photo lover though and my house is covered 🙈
I can’t vouch for the other parks but would love to know if anyone has been and what they thought… I’ve got a feeling we may be returning to Mexico at some point in the future……
My top tips for keeping the costs low
- Save up for your holiday well in advance
- Keep an eye out for deals such as last minute and money off
- Plan plan plan BEFORE you get there – TripAdvisor will be your best friend
- Hire a car and explore at your own pace
- Choose a couple of activities that you really want to do instead of trying to fit absolutely everything in
- Don’t always follow the crowd, go for a wander and you don’t have to be limited to organised excursions
What are your top tips for saving money while on holiday? Leave a comment down below! And again, if there’s anything you want to know about Mexico feel free to ask or email me 🙂
Thanks so much for reading today, I’d love to hear what you think so please do leave a comment to let me know or even just to say hello. If you’d like to find out a bit more about me then have a read all about me here. You can also find me over on Instagram, Facebook or on one of my two other blogs – the diary of a frugal family and meal planning made easy.