At the end of January, Whitney and I embarked on our first international trip since 2019. We settled on a winter Adventure in Mexico for this trip to escape the cold weather at home in Virginia. We left with a fairly open ended itinerary due to uncertainty surrounding COVID, but we had a rough plan to spend about a month at the beaches on the east coast and a month at the beaches on the west coast.
I’ve been continually surprised by how reasonable the costs of international travel can be with some smart planning combined with credit card reward points. If you’re new to the site or aren’t aware, in 2018 I spent only $37/day on average traveling around the world for 5 months, and in 2019 I spent only $46/day on average while traveling throughout Europe for 15 weeks. On those trips, I had much less money than I do now, so I was much more focused traveling as cheaply as was reasonably possible. Both of those trips were amazing overall, but there were times when trying to travel as cheaply as possible led to some headache or less than ideal accommodations. This year, I decided to take a more moderate approach to spending, with a little extra comfort on our accommodations and more splurging in terms of food and activities. Mexico is relatively low cost anyway, so increasing the budget a little went a long way. I had a rough goal of $50/day ($1,500/month) on average for this trip, but I also went into it knowing that I wouldn’t be upset going a little over that. Whitney and I also decided that we wanted to surprise our moms and pay for them to join us at a resort for a week, which added to the expenses, but made for a great experience!
Our first stop on this trip was Cancun, Mexico. We spent a week there at an Airbnb in a small, local neighborhood within walking distance to the beach and to the downtown area. Next we spent a week in Playa Del Carmen with our moms at a very nice resort. After that, our moms decided they wanted to stay another week, so we all moved to another resort in Riviera Maya. Both of these resorts were timeshare properties that we got a discount on because of family/friends who were not able to use their timeshare weeks and let us go as guests. We got some perks and discounts for attending their timeshare presentations, which made them slightly more affordable, but still much more expensive than what we usually spend after paying all of the guest and resort fees. The next week our moms left and Whitney and I headed back to Playa Del Carmen to spend another week there at an Airbnb apartment in the actual town. For our last stop in Quintana Roo, we took a ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel and spent a week there, staying at a nice “villa” we found on Airbnb.
In total, we ended up spending about 5 weeks (34 days) in Quintana Roo, and we had a wonderful time! Below are my expenses for these 5 weeks broken down into categories. Stay tuned for Whitney’s post about all the fun things we did on the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while in Quintana Roo. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits at times. We split all shared expenses evenly, so I calculate the numbers below with my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses.
Accommodations: As I mentioned above, we spent three weeks at various reasonably priced Airbnbs and two weeks at some much more expensive resorts. The resorts were a nice splurge and worth the extra cost though, especially while our moms were traveling with us. The cost of the Airbnbs ranged between $24-$50/night total, or $12-25/night for my half, which was very reasonable and they were all pretty nice efficiencies/apartments with kitchens included.
- Total for my expenses: $1,105
Food and drink: The food in Mexico is delicious and extremely affordable. Unfortunately, the costs for food in and around the resorts… not so much. The resorts we stayed at were fairly remote as well, which made it difficult to get off the property to eat and explore (they do this on purpose so you’ll spend money at the resort). Those two weeks at resorts with higher priced food caused my food and drink expenses to be significantly higher than they would have been otherwise.
- Total for my expenses: $384
Transportation: The biggest transportation cost during this portion of the trip was the taxes and fees for our flights from the US to Cancun. We booked the flights on Southwest with miles, and used my companion pass for the second ticket, but still had to pay about $35/ticket for the taxes and fees. Besides that, getting from place to place once we were in Mexico was relatively inexpensive. We only had to take a few taxis while there, along with one ferry to get to Cozumel, plus we used cheaper buses a few times. The taxis to and from resorts are always more expensive though, which cost us a little extra. We did a lot of walking like usual on our trips, which saved us a decent amount on transportation expenses.
- Total for my expenses: $155
Activities: I splurged much more on activities during this 5 weeks than I usually do on our trips, but there was a lot to do and see, and we had a great time! We took day trips to Tulum (rented a car), Isla Mujeres, and Puerto Morelos, as well as a guided day tour that included going to Chichen-Itza and a cenote. We also took a scuba diving lesson while in Cozumel and a separate day trip on a boat snorkeling at a few reefs around the island. With such beautiful, clear waters we just couldn’t pass it up. We also rented a car for the day again in Cozumel to drive around the island including going to Punta Sur on the tip of the island. All of these adventures were awesome and worth the cost!
- Total for my expenses: $283
My total expenses for 34 days in Quintana Roo, Mexico including accommodations, transportation, activities, and food were approximately $1,927!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $1,927
I really enjoyed our time in Quintana Roo, and the costs were very affordable considering all that we did. If we’d stayed at Airbnbs the entire time instead of the two weeks at the resorts, I would have spent at least $500 less as well.
The weather was just about perfect (low 80s during the day and low 70s at night) and in stark contrast to the very cold February we would have had in Virginia, so it was a huge win for us to be in Mexico for the month of February. The beach towns in Quintana Roo were awesome, and we’ll definitely be returning in the future!
Next we headed from the East coast to the West coast to spend a month in Jalisco, Mexico – so stay tuned for my next update. Keep an eye on the Facebook page and our Instagram where we are posting much more frequently about the trip including our favorite pictures!