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How To Vacation In Mexico For $750

How To Vacation In Mexico For $750


Cheap. That’s probably the adjective that I get thrown at me most often. Honestly, I don’t really like it. I think there’s a huge difference between being cheap and being efficient, but that’s another blog on its own. The truth is that I have no issue spending money when I feel like I’m getting a great return on investment (ROI). And that’s to say, as long as something is useful or something will be remembered for a very long time, I’ll gladly spend the money. A great example of this is the trip to Cozumel, Mexico I just took.

No this isn't an extreme live off the land price-tag which would probably be closer to $400. For a week straight I relaxed and spent money whenever I pleased. We ate out almost every meal, bought the good stuff when it came to drinks, and even did some touristy excursions. This is obviously extremely different than my day-to-day lifestyle where I cook over 90% of my meals at home and have inner debates about almost every expenditure.

This was a great exercise in letting go of all financial worries. Not only did I treat myself by living it up for a week, I also left the stock market and my net worth in the rearview. I truly put finance out of mind and the ocean front and center. I do realize looking back on it and talking with coworkers that my subconscious was still making some fiscally responsible decisions and I’m ok with that because as long as I am completely stress free my subconscious can do what it wants.

Subconscious Frugality Moment #1

While shopping for some groceries the first morning we decided to get some breakfast materials because the amount of restaurants open for breakfast in Cozumel is a fairly small list and generally eating out every meal leads to me feeling a little overly stuffed which is counterproductive to the whole beach bod idea. And no, we didn’t eat pop-tarts for breakfast. We actually had really good combinations with egg, avocado, cilantro, some great bakery bread, etc. This allowed for a slow start to the day without feeling dragged down and for $20 we had plenty for two people to have 5 days of great breakfast. You don’t need a full kitchen or a culinary background either, just a microwave and a few dishes. Our Air BnB had an outdoor stove and grill but we never even tapped into those resources. If you don’t already know, you can actually cook up some pretty good scrambled eggs in the microwave using a coffee cup. Just beat 2-3 eggs with a couple tablespoons of water, microwave about 45 seconds, mix around again, then back in the microwave till you see the eggs stop rising. These scrambled eggs on our cilantro bread with avocado, more cilantro, and lime made for a hearty breakfast that was delicious.

Happily Dropping The Big Bucks

            The Air BnB we stayed at was $40/night and probably qualifies as subconscious frugality moment #2 even though there are actually plenty in Cozumel for less than $30. It was a really nice place with a pool, cooking equipment, and was run by the owner of a local dive shop. I was inquiring about snorkel trips from our host Alex, but ultimately I thought why not just go all out and do a two tank scuba dive at $120 per person. It was an awesome dive, especially the second tank. For the second tank it was just Leslie, the instructor, and I. We saw huge colorful fish, massive coral formations, and huge lobsters. It was easy to see why Cozumel is one of the top rated dive locations.

The next day we went out for the excursions we had already pre-booked before we arrived that had our tour guide picking us straight from the Air BnB. This was my fourth trip to Cozumel but I’ve never actually done anything touristy there. I thought it would be nice to try and took care of an entire day. We went to a Tequila tour, couple great beaches, snorkeling, lunch, and lighthouse overlook. It was a really relaxing day because all the activities were preplanned and included in the price plus all the equipment was provided and came in at $70 per person. After being introduced to the backside of Cozumel and some of its gorgeous beaches we decided to rent a car from one of our neighbors and just have a day out on our own timeline. Having the day with the rental car was probably our second favorite part of the trip narrowly behind scuba diving and was $40 total. 


Well I Thought I Was Dropping Big Bucks

The vacation, as all good things do, came to an end. I went back to work and I thought I had just had a great trip and was almost proud of myself for not being “cheap” for once. It turns out that in everyone else’s eyes I was still coming in way under budget. Around the lunch table I listened as co-workers compared my trip to theirs were they spend $3000 and $6000 for very similar areas.

It was obvious after listening that the reason their trip cost 2-4 times more than me was convenience. You pay one price to one person and you’re done. I don’t blame people for that because to some that takes away stress which is the main goal of a vacation. For me however, getting into the community and bouncing around to different places and different activities is what makes it really fun. I don’t want to be disconnected from the place I am, just the place I came from. I met a great guy in our host Alex and will probably use him again to get scuba certified in March when I make my journey down for my mission trip to the local orphanage. I also found some great local restaurants while walking through the city that would have been missed if I had went with some all-inclusive resort. Maybe I am lucky that I naturally gravitate towards the ways that happen to be cheaper but I urge you to give it a chance. Get a little more invested in your journeys and it will pay you back literally and figuratively.

So What Were The Damages

All in all, the trip came out to be about $755 per person. Plane $320, Room $100, Excursions $210, $100 for food/drinks, and $25 for transportation. I couldn’t be happier with how it went either and if we had it to do again we would probably naturally do it even cheaper. There were some food and drink choices that didn’t turn out as good as some of our beloved cheap places, and renting the car was actually more fun than getting a guide. Also, plane tickets can normally be had cheaper but we just wanted to nail down the dates instead of waiting it out for the right price. Even with these luxuries and mistakes, we had an amazing week for a fraction of what most people spend. Bonus, if you ever need a Christmas idea for someone, give this a shot! I covered the airfare and room for Leslie instead of traditional presents even though I do love picking out presents.

Across my posts you will probably see a theme of trading money for true value which is getting/giving happiness in the most efficient way possible. There are a lot of different price tags on a fantastic vacation. The key to getting the most bang for the buck is determining where the “bang” truly is. Do you want to pay an extra $100 a night for a fancier bedroom that won’t add anything to your trip, or would you rather go scuba diving or some other experience you’ll never forget.

Transportation Tips

  • Look at flying into Cancun but vacationing in Cozumel
  • Take the ADO bus service from the Cancun airport instead of taxis for only ~$8.50
  • From the Bus you'll need a ferry, use Barcos Caribe for ~3.50
  • For taxis in Cozumel, try not to get picked up/dropped off at the pier
  • Also, ask to see their taxi price sheet, most of the time $2.50 will cover city trips


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