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Culture, night life, warm tropical beaches; Mexico has it all and you can travel on a budget.
Culture, night life, warm tropical beaches; Mexico has it all and you can travel on a budget.
Looking for a fun, inexpensive destination for a quick getaway? Mexico has long been the place to travel for American and Canadian travelers who want to travel abroad without spending a large fortune to go overseas.

And while premier tourist destination in Mexico such as Acapulco, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas aren’t as cheap as they used to be, you can still travel to Mexico on a budget if you do your homework and plan ahead. Read on to learn a few tips on traveling cheap in Mexico!

Least Expensive Mexico Travel Destinations

The coastal resorts in Mexico cater to travelers who are short on time and want a nice warm place to relax beachside, but the most popular resorts can also be expensive, especially during peak season from December to May, when everyone wants to go south to escape the colder climes of the north east and Pacific northwest!

Look online for Mexico resort packages off season when rates are lower. Less known beach areas such as Tulum can be a bargain versus those such as Acapulco, Cabo or Puerto Vallarta.

Traveling in Mexico brings many great memories like this sunset on the beach!
Traveling in Mexico brings many great memories like this sunset on the beach!
If you prefer to see more of the culture and history of Mexico, you might also plan to travel to less popular destinations that are a bit out of the way. While it takes a bit more research and advance planning, you can still travel in Mexico on a budget if you avoid those popular coastal resorts!

The pre-colonial civilizations of the Toltecs, Mayans, and Aztecs are spread across a large area, so you don’t have to stay in the most popular tourist areas to visit the ancient temples and other historic sites; look for smaller towns that are within easy driving or bus distance of the sites you want to visit and you can find much less costly accommodations. Food and beverages also tend to be less expensive in these smaller cities and towns; just be sure not to drink the water!

Rent a car or use the bus system, which is extensive in Mexico and can get you almost anywhere you want to visit. It helps if you speak enough Spanish to get by when traveling by bus or car in Mexico, so you might want to brush up a bit before your vacation.

Saving Money on Flights to Mexico

Unless you are fortunate enough to live in Southern California, Arizona or elsewhere in the American Southwest, driving to Mexico won’t usually be a good option unless you are planning an extended Mexico vacation. Flights to major Mexico cities and resort destinations are plentiful and you can get good prices on your air travel by following these tips:

  • Travel off season to get the best airline rates and be travel about what times you are willing to fly in order to save money on airfare.
  • Flights with 1 or 2 layovers can save money if you have a little more time to get to and from your Mexican travel destination.
  • Compare Flight Rates to Different Mexico Airports; try flying into the smaller Mexico international airports including Guadalajara, Mexicali, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey or Tijuana.
  • Book a Flight with a Budget Mexico Airline; the cheapest flights to Mexico are often found on value-oriented airlines suck as Aviasca, Avolar Airlines and Interjet.
  • Use an airline with flights to and from Mexico when you travel on business to save up those frequent flyer miles!
  • If you are traveling to the U.S. Southwest on business, try tacking on a long weekend and make a quick trip to Mexico while you’re already close; for a couple hundred bucks you can add Cabo or Puerto Vallarta onto your flight itinerary!
  • While you can sometimes save money by making flight arrangements a couple of months in advance, you can also find deals on empty seats by waiting to the last minute to purchase airline tickets; this is a good strategy if you have the flexibility to travel to Mexico on a somewhat “impromptu” basis.

Shop for package prices if you want to stay at a Mexico Resort like Cancun, Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas.
Shop for package prices if you want to stay at a Mexico Resort like Cancun, Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas.
Mexico Resort Package Deals

Another good way to save money can be to shop for all-inclusive Mexico travel packages. Especially in resort areas such as Cancun, some of the resorts offer several night deals that include lodging, food and beach activities such as snorkeling, boat rides and horseback rides.

How to Save on Accommodations in Mexico

Depending on what you’re willing to accept when it comes to travel accommodations, you can find Hostels and budget hotel alternatives in Mexico; for the more adventurous traveler these venues can also add interest to your trip since you will be closer to the real action rather than staying in a resort designed to make the American or Canadian traveler feel “at home” as much as possible.

Budget accommodations are still plentiful throughout Mexico if you’re okay with staying in a dormitory-style hostel; you can find a place to stay for less than $10 a night. Even a private double room with shared bathroom facilities can cost at little as $25 a night. These might not be the nicest hotel you’ll stay in, but you will enjoy the real flavor of Mexico and come home with some great stories to remember!

Remember that a lot of the fun of traveling abroad comes from going outside your comfort zone and truly experiencing the culture and lifestyle of the people who live in the place you are visiting!

Finding Cheap Food, Drink and Night Life in Mexico

Some of the best and least expensive meals I’ve enjoyed have been at local market stalls and restaurants in Mexico. A simple and affordable fare of corn tortillas, rice, beans, eggs, and chicken or pork can be found throughout Mexico, with spicy peppers and sauces that are uniquely Mexican in flavor! Visit the local mercados (marketplaces) to stock up on fruits, vegetables and other food items, which will enable you to eat out in more expensive restaurants during your trip.

Activities like parasailing, diving, fishing and other water sports are a favorite part of many mexican vacation trips.
Activities like parasailing, diving, fishing and other water sports are a favorite part of many mexican vacation trips.
When you visit the coastal towns, you will also find coconut, fish and seafood and local fruit and vegetables which vary from one region to another. For a real treat, visit the local panaderias (bakeries) for fresh breads and pastries that make a great breakfast or snack.

In Mexico, the alcohols of choice are tequila, rum, and beer. Wine is beginning to become more widely produced in parts of Baja California especially, although wine is not a specialty in general. If you are traveling Mexico on a budget, look for local bars and clubs where you can still get beer or tequila at reasonable prices. Resort area bars that cater to tourists will always be on the pricier side.

Since “machismo” is a prevalent theme throughout Mexico and local bars and clubs are predominately frequented by males, it is best for women to go with male companions. Check out the bar before you go in and always drink in moderation to avoid problems you would encounter in the bar scene most anywhere!

Visit these Mexico travel resources and websites for more info:

  • U.S. Department of State – Mexico travel info and advisories
  • Travel Mexico – Offers city and hotel guides, Mexico Vacation information, beach and night life activities and more
  • Lonely Planet – Mexico guide for travelers
  • Hotwire – Find great deals and package prices on vacations in Mexico
  • Side Step – Find a last minute deal on “impromptu” Mexico vacation packages



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