When we made our travel budget for Mexico, we hoped to spend about $80 total per day, or $40/person.
After 43 full days of travel (not including one half day), we ended up spending almost exactly that!
Not only are we happy about sticking to our travel budget for Mexico, we’re thrilled with how far our money went. Among many other experiences, we took surfing lessons, toured the area surrounding Oaxaca City, went horseback riding, visited waterfalls, spent a week on an island paradise, and saw five different sets of ruins.
Trip length: 43 full days
Total cost: $3465.07, $80.58/day, $40.29/person/day
All prices are in USD.
Lodging: $1716.27, 43 nights, average of $39.91/night
Lodging was incredibly affordable in Mexico–we stayed in a combination of Airbnb’s and comfortable budget hotels (wifi and air conditioning where the climate demands it are always a must!). As always, we rented apartments on Airbnb, rather than private or shared rooms.
With the exception of Playa del Carmen, where we spent around $72/night (gulp), our lodging fell comfortably into the $30-$40/night range.
Ready to book your trip to Mexico? While in Mexico, we always checked Airbnb for lodging first (if you’ve never used it, click here for a discount on your first stay!), and then used Booking.com to find hotels if we didn’t find an Airbnb.
Transportation was extremely easy, comfortable (with the exception of the unpleasant van ride from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido), and inexpensive–most of our major bus trips cost $10-20 per person. The exceptions were 9 hours on an overnight bus from Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal de las Casas, which ran about $35/person.
Taxis normally cost about $1-2 (inflated to $2-3 in Playa del Carmen), and the metrobus and subway in Mexico City each cost about $0.25/ride.
Restaurant Food: $567.59
Unsurprisingly, restaurants were most expensive in Playa del Carmen and Isla Holbox. In general, though, food was very inexpensive–about $5-8 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant and a couple of dollars for street food.
Unlike Southeast Asia, where American-style fast food is more expensive than at home, the American chains in Mexico had lower prices than in the USA–in Oaxaca, I bought a 6-inch Subway sandwich, chips and a cookie for $2.70.
Groceries in Mexico were generally cheaper than in the USA–especially since we were willing to be flexible on brands.
We shopped extensively in Mexico City, Puerto Escondido, San Cristobal de las Casas and Playa del Carmen, eating 50% or more of our meals at home in those destinations.
Including restaurant food, we averaged a food cost of $8.89 per person, per day.
Tours & Excursions: $403.23
The inexpensive tours and excursions were one of our favorite aspects of traveling in Mexico! In Oaxaca and Chiapas, an all day, multistop tour ran $15-25/person, and three hours of horseback riding in Chiapas cost us $10/person. We paid just under $20/person per two hour surfing lesson in Puerto Escondido.
Prices rose dramatically once we reached the Riviera Maya, and that was part of the reason we passed on taking tours there.
Overall, we loved that we were able to take part in all kinds of activities throughout the country without enormously impacting our travel budget for Mexico.
This category on our travel budget for Mexico includes more money than we would have preferred to spend, but we had several unexpected costs, as well as some random expenses like tips, bathroom fees, and mascara.
Most notably, we had to buy a new camera charger in San Cristobal de las Casas for far more than it would have cost on Amazon, and we had to pay a bogus fee to exit Mexico.
Quick rundown: Mexico has a tourism tax. If you fly into Mexico on a commercial flight, this cost is almost always built into your ticket, which was true for us. If you show proper documentation (check out this post which has a great rundown) to the Mexican officials on your way out of the country via bus or car, the immigration agents should not charge you again. If you fly back, you shouldn’t run into this issue at all.
We exited Mexico via overnight bus to Belize, documents in hand. The agents we spoke to almost certainly knew the rules regarding this tax, and many other people on our bus knew the rules as well–one well-traveled couple even said that it was their fourth time at this border crossing and they had never paid the tax.
Almost everyone who was familiar with the departure procedure got upset when the agents insisted that we all owed additional money, and more than one person got into a loud argument with the agents. It didn’t matter: we weren’t getting out of Mexico and into Belize until each person gave the grumpy officers in the isolated office 500 pesos (about $25 USD) in cash at 4:00am.
While not an enormous deal in the long run, it was not our favorite way to spend $50.
We are extremely happy with how much we spent in Mexico. Not only did we stick to our travel budget for Mexico, we feel that we got great value for our money on most things.
Though we have likely said goodbye to Mexico for the rest of 2017, we consider it one of our favorite countries and I know that we will visit again.
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