A lot of people ask us how much a trip like ours costs. Of course we saved some money, but beyond that, judicious money management is needed - picking the right accomodations, eating at the right places, chosing the tourist activities - all this must be tailored to fit one's budget. We'll try to give budget tips for all the coutries we go to. These are mostly based on Angela's estimates, adjusted to match the actual spending. Heh' we're not perfect...
Mexico was more expensive than we thought although we did keep to our budget. For the two of us the following is a list of what we averaged.
Accommodations: We averaged $18 to $22 a night. In Tulum or coastal towns this is a bit higher.
Food: For 2 people we averaged $30-$40 a day which is a bit expensive. You can definitely do it cheaper if you eat tacos and salbutes the entire time and get it down to $10 to $20 a day.
Car Rental/Gas: This is where we went over budget because we were forced to purchase Mexican car insurance (two of the three types of insurance they offered could be waived - and hence covered by our credit card - but the liability for damage to third parties couldn't). It was still a good deal at less than $25 a day. Gas seemed to be the same price as the U.S.
Activities: This is what we spent the most on and the days we did multiple Mayan Ruins it got more expensive. We loaded ourselves with activities and averaged about $20 to $30 a day.
Bus Tickets: Cheap, $5 to $10 each depending on where you go.
Other: This is what gets you: water, coffee, the occasional ice cream, internet access and more water... we averaged $10 or so a day for stuff like this. We drink allot of water, more so when we visited ruins in the scorching afternoon sun.
And here's more...
For those who are interested here are some tips to help you keep budget while in the Yucatan:
- Calculate your bill while you order or keep the menu with you until you pay. Too many times you order and get a bill and then have no idea what the cost is. You end up paying 20 pesos instead of 15 for the soda and somehow two ended up on your bill when you ordered one. It took us 2 weeks to get this.
- Make sure to review your bill – is service included? If so you don’t need to tip anymore, if it is not included 10% is enough, 15% when it is excellent. We found out we were over-tipping 2 weeks into our trip.
- Restaurant portions are sometimes big. If you are travelling as 2 or more you can sometimes split a meal. One can order an entrée and the other can order an appetizer. The cost is cheaper and it is usually more than enough food.
- When filling up on gas, you pay what the pump display says it is per liter not more. Our first gas fill we were told it was 9 pesos vs. what the gas tank said (6.85 pesos). He told us it had gone up, he even pulled a pocket calculator to give us the total. Since we didn’t know any better we paid. The next time and every time after that we were charged the price at the pump, which was indeed around 6.85.
- Try to stick to hostels or hotels that provide breakfast, free water etc. This makes a huge difference!
- If you can (and in most places you can) never pay for more than one night in the hotel. We ended up staying in a place in Tulum and paid for the 4 nights we planned on staying. We realized that we needed to leave after 3 days. They refused to give us back the money for the night we did not stay. Also, you never know the accommodation until you sleep there. It may look great on the outside but then after a night a sleep you may realize it is too loud, there are bedbugs… you never know. So if you can pay only for one night and then as you go.
- In a restaurant 10% (make sure it is not included in the bill), 15% if service is excellent.
- Don’t tip Gas attendants who fill your tank. We did for a week or so before we found out locals don’t tip them
- Make sure when filling up on gas, the pump has started at zero. We didn't have this one pulled on us but it seems that it's a common scam.
- When kids or adults run to clean you windows on your car at the gas station you may get stuck having to tip 3 versus 1 person. Stand your ground and say no, or only tip 5-10 pesos and no more. One will start doing your window then when you turn your head sometimes another one will jump in and clean your back window. Then you get stuck feeling like you have to tip both.
- For people who bag your groceries, 2-4 pesos at your discretion. We saw both some locals tipping and others not.
- For room cleaning 2-5 pesos a day, if it was really cleaned nicely. We only used this is the mid range to higher end hotels. This didn’t seem to apply to hostels.