Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mexico: How To Marie-Style

Welcome to another installation in "How does she do this if she is not filthy rich."

Though if you've been here a while, you probably already know from your own experience that the whole "Travel is expensive" thing is a sham perpetrated by people selling advertising in their publications. Travel is only expensive if you buy into the notion that hotels should be $100-300 a night or more, and that you should fork over endless huge amounts of money for things you'd buy at home for normal prices.

We all know I don't have a job at the moment. I'm not unemployed. I'm overemployed. But I'm freelance. So you might be wondering how I could do this, but the truth is, by going to Mexico, I spent LESS than staying home for that time.

-I used American Airlines frequent flyer miles (mostly collected on my Aadvantage Mastercard) to fly from Dulles (near where I was visiting my mother) to Queretaro, the nearest airport to San Miguel de Allende. Normally, I'd have had to fly to much-cheaper Mexico City, but on miles, you fly by zones, so smaller, pricier airports use the same number of points as larger destinations. So I got within an hour of my destination instead of having to take a 3.5 hour bus journey as soon as I landed. There's a shuttle, like SuperShuttle, from the airport to the town. That was $29.

-My rent in San Miguel, which covered everything including decent quality wifi, was $750 for the month. San Miguel is one of the most expensive cities in Mexico, and as a short-term renter, I am not privy to the great deals you get when you have time to search on the ground and as a long-term resident. I accepted this long ago in other cities--sublets involve a premium. And it's a lot less than the rent I'd pay at home, right? Note to "That's too much for Mexico" people. Go write your own post and don't second-guess my decisions. 

-When that month was up, I wanted to be a tourist too.

-August 14th. Primera Plus bus to Mexico City. This was about $26.

-Overnight, two nights at Hotel San Diego. $31/night, paid in actual money.

-Caught bus to pyramids. Really cheap.

-August 16th. Subway/shuttle to alternate airport of Toluca, where I had a $60 one-way flight to Villahermosa. But it wasn't $60. It was $100. Budget airlines charge for everything, including luggage check-in and using a credit card to buy a ticket.

-Shuttle bus from Villahermosa to Palenque town. Cheap (I've forgotten).

-Overnight at Hotel Chablis on Capital One points, which accumulate from a bank account I have with them.

-Bus to Palenque ruins, something like 8-10 pesos.

-Day trip to Yaxchilan and Bonampak, I think it was around $70-80.

-Overnight bus to Merida. This was around $20.

-Continue on by bus to Chichen Itza, another $7-15.

-Booked a hotel at Chichen Itza by Citibank Thank You points and six cents since I was missing a few points.

-August 19. Second class bus on to Cancun. Two nights at Radisson on Radisson hotel points.

-August 21, caught local bus to 70 peso ferry to Isla Mujeres. One night there at Bahia Chac Chi on Capital One points.

-Paid actual money for the whole scuba experience. Closed eyes and signed. How much? I think it was around $80 for refresher and two dive package, including gear rental and CD of photos.

-Aug. 22, back to Cancun on the 70 peso ferry and local bus.

-Aug 22, one more night at the Radisson on Radisson point.

-Aug. 23. Fly ex Cancun to Miami, then in the morning of the 24th from Miami to Newark. I had to split it like this to get the $238 one-way fare on AA. Overnight in Hampton Inn on Citibank points.

Plus I had to pay the tax on the free ticket to get down there.

So that's it, how I managed to go to Mexico for six weeks without breaking the bank. 

1 comment:

melanie ajumma said...

I was so lucky to be reading this today because it reminded me that the deadline to pay my taxes and fees for my points flight to Shanghai is today at 6:00. Off to the airline office I go.