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How to Budget for a Trip to Mexico

Mexico is an excellent destination for budget travelers. The cost of living is relatively low, making it possible to visit the country on a tight budget. Additionally, there are many ways to save money while traveling in Mexico, such as taking advantage of public transportation and seeking out local eateries rather than more expensive restaurants. Additionally, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy, such as visiting museums and exploring historical sites. All in all, Mexico is a great place to visit for budget travelers.



How much does it cost to travel in Mexico?


Overall, Mexico is a very cheap country to visit. The daily cost varies greatly depending on where you are and what you plan on doing. On average, $30 USD per day would be enough for a solo traveler staying in hostels. The same traveler could live very comfortably for just $50 USD a day! The further you get from the touristy areas, the cheaper things will be.



A Budget Breakdown


Accommodation


Accommodation in Mexico varies widely in terms of cost — from luxurious, all-inclusive resorts to budget-friendly hostels. For the most affordable option, look for a hostel that offers dormitory-style rooms. Hostels can cost anywhere from $5-30 USD per night, making them an attractive choice for budget travelers. Hostels can also provide other amenities, such as shared kitchens, lounges, and laundry facilities, which can help cut costs as well. If you want a private room in a hostel, these typically start at around $20 and can range upwards of $80.

Mid-range hotels can cost around $50-100 USD per night. These hotels that are a step above a hostel generally offer great value for the money, so you can expect to get a good night's stay for a reasonable price.


If you’re looking for a high-end resort, be prepared to pay upwards of $200 USD per night. All-inclusive resorts are quite popular and are often advertised with attractive prices, but this generally doesn’t include the resort fees which are sprung on you in the booking process or even you once you arrive. Make sure to confirm this before booking because they can take a reasonably priced resort to an exorbitantly priced one.



Transport


Within big cities like Mexico City, public transport is the cheapest option to get around (besides walking of course). The Metro in Mexico City costs just 5 pesos (about 0.25 USD) per ride, and it’s a fast and convenient way to get around the city. The Metrobus is another option, with tickets costing 6 pesos per ride offers another option. However, if you are going to or from the airport with the buses, it’ll cost you 30 pesos.


Between cities, there are a few options. Collectivos are a popular form of intercity transport in Mexico. These are vans or shared taxis that run on fixed routes. Collectivos are usually much cheaper than coaches and can cost anywhere from 10-40 pesos (about 0.50-1 USD) per ride. However, they will typically only leave once they are full so if you need to get somewhere in a hurry, there are better options.


In Mexico, long-distance coaches are comfortable, affordable, and fast. The cost of long-distance coaches varies depending on the route, but typically it will cost between 200 and 400 pesos (about 10-20 USD) for a one-way ticket. There are many companies and routes throughout the country, but we found Busbud to be a great tool for checking routes and comparing prices.


If you plan on covering large distances in the country, domestic flights can be a good option to spend less time on the road and more time exploring. Domestic flights in Mexico are typically quite affordable, with average prices ranging from 500-1,000 pesos (about 25-50 USD). Depending on the airline and the route, prices may be lower or higher though.


Food


For food, it’s pretty straightforward - eat where the locals eat whether you’re on a budget or not. Not only will it be the best-priced food since westernized restaurants have huge markups, but most importantly this will be REAL, delicious Mexican food. You can find tasty street food, or grab a few tacos for as little as $2-5 USD. The authentic Mexican flavors will tantalize your taste buds, and you'll soon see why the locals love their food so much!


Activities


It’s no surprise that the cost of activities in Mexico will depend on the type of activity you’re doing. While this is part of your budget you will probably need to allocate the most amount to, there are plenty of free things to do in the country. Cultural and historical attractions in Mexico are generally affordable, with many of them costing less than $10, however, the most popular ones like Chichen Itza can be a little pricier. Here’s the cost of some of the country’s biggest attractions to give you an idea:


  • Teotihuacan: $4.25 USD

  • Chichen Itza: $30 USD

  • Diving in Cozumel: $90 USD

  • One-way train ride through Copper Canyon $117 USD

  • Izta-Popo National Park: $2.70 USD

  • Snorkeling in the Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula: around $5 USD



Tips to stretch your money further in Mexico


  • Learn some basic Spanish, particularly numbers, to avoid the "gringo" prices.

  • Always pay with Pesos, even if you have USD. Paying in the local currency will get you the best price.

  • Look for hotel deals that include complimentary breakfast - cut out the cost of one whole meal per day. Or choose places that have cooking facilities to cook your own meals

  • Try Couchsurfing to save money on accommodation - not only that but you can meet some really cool people and get a good sense of what life is really like here.

  • Join a free walking tour of the city. If you enjoyed it then pay a tip at the end

  • Opt for free activities. Every city has them if you look hard enough.

  • Check for discounts/coupons for attractions before you book. Many places will even offer a discount if you purchase tickets in advance.

  • Travel in groups to share the costs of car rentals and accommodation

  • Travel slower and limit the number of cities you visit. You can often get discounts if staying somewhere for at least a week and if you cut down on the number of places you visit you also cut down on transportation costs



Mexico is an affordable destination for budget travelers, with accommodations ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts and public transportation being a cheap and convenient way to get around. There are also plenty of free activities to enjoy, and even paid ones are reasonably priced. With a bit of planning, budget travelers can have an enjoyable and affordable trip to Mexico and those with a larger budget can be very comfortable on as little as $50 per day!

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