Last year I was hanging out in an airport waiting for my flight when an attendant called me to the counter, pulled me aside, and informed me that there was a shortage of seats on the aircraft. She arranged for me to catch another flight and provided me with an $800 credit voucher for a future flight.
Fast forward a couple of months. I'm sitting down with my partner price checking destinations that our $800 credit can cover. We quickly find out that if we want to travel internationally, we need to pick a popular nearby destination to keep costs under the value of our voucher.
We decided that a 14 day trip to Cancun was the best bet. It was close to our home in Austin, beautiful, affordable and warm. There was just one small problem...we totally weren’t interested in the resort (or tourist) scene. How could we explore this terrain in a way that felt intentional and interwoven with the authentic Mexican communities of the Yucatan Peninsula? We also couldn't comprehend the per night fee of $300 and upwards at a standard resort.
Well, instead of spending $300 per day to hang and drink on a resort beach, I decided to plan an adventure along the Riviera Maya that would cost about $300 in total.
Now, of course this doesn’t account for the total cost of the trip. For two weeks of lodging I budgeted $500, there is a budget for a car rental and gas of $475, an activity budget of $300, and a grocery budget of $200. This totals the trip at $1,475, which breaks down to $105.35 a day.
Not so bad when you consider that this is an all inclusive experience that includes all of your activities, transportation, food, and lodging within that price. This is merely a third of the cost of your average resort, and they don’t include several of the perks we will be getting within this itinerary.
How did I keep costs down? Well, I opted to do everything myself.
At first I thought that there would need to be expensive days where I invested about $200 into a tour package, just to take some pressure off of planning the whole trip. However, the deeper I dug, the more I realized this wasn’t an advantage to me! I enjoyed finding exactly what I wanted to do rather than having a tour company that only went to the top three destinations. I also wanted to be able to go during the “off hours” to attractions, to have some space and peace and quiet. I realized the prices were dropping to mere Pesos as I researched the actual entry fees versus the inflated tour rates.