Mexico is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries. It offers white sandy beaches, larger-than-life temples and some of the best food in the world. Luckily, cheap travel in Mexico is easy to come by. The following tips will tell you how to prepare for a trip to Mexico on a low budget.
Many of these tips also help you maximize your itinerary with free activities and transportation. Enjoy the country’s gorgeous weather and beautiful locals without spending your entire savings.
Everyone wants to visit Mexico when the weather is below freezing. Obviously, December through February are the most popular times to head South. This is also the time when cruise ships redirect and head to Cancun, Cabo and the Mexican Riviera.
Avoid crowds and high prices by visiting during the swing season. This is when the crowds die down, but the temperatures aren’t scorching hot. The best time to snag cheap travel in Mexico is April, May, September, October and November. While travel is still cheap in June, July and August, you might still run into some serious summer vacation crowds and some pretty hot temperatures.
If you end up in Mexico on November 2nd, it’s a double bonus; the country celebrates the Day of the Dead on this day, and free festivals sprout up in every major city.
© Tristan Higbee - Beach in Cancun
Cheap accommodation in Mexico is easy to come by. There are plenty of vacation packages available to tourists, and one of the easiest ways to save money is with an all-inclusive hotel.
These hotels are usually in beach towns and offer a set price for the room, food, drinks and activities. You might end up paying $200 a night per person, but you won’t need to spend a peso once you’re there – unless you want to partake in activities outside the hotel.
© Velas Vallarta - All-Inclusive Resort, Puerto Vallarta
Since you’re limited to hotel activities, you might want to consider one of these other cheap accommodation options if you’re planning on branching out a bit.
A hostel will set you back around $10 a night in Mexico. Private rooms in hostels start around $20 per person. You’ll get all the essentials – a bed, access to a bathroom and probably free coffee or breakfast – plus you’ll have a home base, where you can meet new friends and chat with the locals.
Hostels usually offer free activities, drink nights and tours. The front desk can usually give you some pretty great tips on where to find cheap food and drink in Mexico and where to find cheap souvenirs. Hostels also offer free or cheap transport to and from the airport.
© Simon Cast - Hostel Courtyard, Oaxaca City
Airbnb is becoming increasingly popular throughout Mexico. Rooms in a shared apartment start as low as $10 a night in Mexico City. You could also score a super swanky pad for around $60 a night. Airbnb also offers concierge services now, too. If you get lost, lose your keys or need a restaurant recommendation, you can give Airbnb a call. The concierge will assist you right away or let you know when someone can get back to you.
© Mark Hogan - Airbnb Apartment, Mexico City
It’s easy to find food on a budget in Mexico. In many cities you can get an entire prefix lunch for around $3.
If you don’t want to stick to the set menu, check out the street food. This is one of the cheapest ways to eat and actually goes all the way back to ancient Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, they called these little morsels, “antojitos”, or little cravings. You’ll probably recognize much of the street food too, as it has made its way up to North America and Europe.
Tamales, tortillas, juice, tacos, fruit and burritos can all be found street-side in Mexico. If you’re wary about eating street meat, just follow a few simple rules. Try to eat at carts that have huge lines out front; this generally means the place is good and safe to eat. Take a look at the food before you buy. If it smells odd or looks strange, don’t eat it.
© Masa Assassin - Mexican Street Food Vendor
Your first day in a new city can feel a little disorienting. To acclimate yourself, take a “free” tour of where you’re staying. These tours are advertised as free, yet the guides work off gratuities alone. Customers are expected to tip the guide what they thought the tour was worth, and the guide sends a small cut back to the company.
These tours are offered in nearly every major city in Mexico. You can get a great feel for the city while absorbing a little history and culture. Most guides are also more than happy to recommend their favorite budget restaurants and bars.
© Nathalie Babineau-Griffiths - Mexican Tour Guide
If you want to know more about an area, take yourself on a self-guided tour. There are plenty of self-guided tours of Mexican cities online. Simply Google the name of the city and the words “self-guided tour”, and you can download and print your tour right from your computer at home.
There are even audio tours available for free on iTunes or the Google marketplace that you can download on your phone. Many of these audio tours also come with pictures to further explain the history of the area.
Many cities offer free or cheap activities that help visitors learn about their local culture and history.
Visit the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City, and you’ll snag free admission. Mexico is also famous for its many churches, which are also free. Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puerto Vallarta to see stunning white and gold interior. Head back at night to see the plaza lit up in dramatic splendor.
© .deeneg - Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Puerto Vallarta
Metro trains and buses are some of the cheapest ways to get around Mexico’s cities. Both cost just a few pesos to board. If your hostel or Airbnb offers access to a bike, you can zip around the area for free. Some cities also offer bike shares that rent bikes out for around $20 a day.
© Design For Health - Bus in Mexico City