Mexico.. a lot of us dream of going to Mexico for its white sand beaches, amazing food, cheap tequila and beer, and festive culture.
There are many different types of travel experiences one can think of when associating travel to Mexico: the Cancun luxury resort travel, the rough backpackers travel style, the hostel and partying type, the big cities and metropolitan sorts…
I’m the type of traveler who likes to mix all of those but let me tell you how to ultimately travel through Mexico on a (small) budget.
Travel Mexico on a budget: saving on transportation
I left from Europe, with a one-way ticket to Mexico. Usually one-way tickets, first of all, are more expensive than returns, but I managed to find one that was just under 500 euros.
It was from Madrid and had a stopover in Amsterdam, before flying directly to Mexico City. I used skyscanner.com to find my flights and the main airlines were KLM and AeroMexico.
Just as a side note, traveling to, and in Mexico during a worldwide pandemic was one of the best decisions of my life.
In terms of transport within Mexico, flights are relatively cheap, but I would recommend going by land.
Hitchhiking is evidently the cheapest method you’ll find, but realistically it doesn’t guarantee 100% security and you need to have (a lot of) time on your hands. Here is a list of travel methods I used which were cheap and safe:
I used websites like busbud.com to search bus routes, but your best bet would be to go directly to the bus stations.
The main bus line within Mexico is ADO, and I’ve only had good travel experiences with them (except for one trip where the toilet was blocked).
The seats are comfortable, there’s space, it can get cold at times (so bring a sweater, but I think that’s common sense), they do pit stops during long trips, and they’re surprisingly quite punctual.
Now that you’ve figured out how to travel relatively cheaply from one point/city/town to another, let’s talk about accommodation.
1. Volunteering in Mexico
I mostly used Worldpackers, which meant that I didn’t pay for accommodation as it was part of the volunteer exchange, so that would be number 1 on my suggestions list.
Most volunteer opportunities in Mexico offer accommodation and food (at least 1 meal per day), and what’s great about WP is that you can filter opportunities according to their accommodation type (private room, shared room etc..).
If you haven’t heard of CS yet, it’s basically where locals can host travelers for free.
The website/app is easy to use and you can filter out if you prefer a private room, or don’t mind the actual couch, but CS is a great way to meet the locals and have an authentic experience.
I’ve been using it for years and have only had positive experiences! There is a small membership fee to pay to ensure the verification of profiles but once you’re on it, you can literally stay anywhere in the world for free.
Most hosts are generous and also offer meals, and to take you around the area to explore, whilst others might just give you a set of keys and tell you to go live your best life!
Plus, if you don’t want to stay at someone’s house, you can also just see other travelers in the area and meet up with them. It’s another community like WP- very open-minded travelers.
Sure, this is beyond obvious. If you’re a bit manic with organization (like me), I liked to use websites like hostelworld.com or booking.com to book a bed in advance; but on days where I was more in f*ck it mode, I would rock up in new towns and just walk into random hostels.
The best experiences I’ve had were from doing that, or from meeting other travelers that would recommend hostels.
4. Airbnb and Hotels
Of course, you can always find cheap private room if you prefer, especially if you’ve met someone and you’re not traveling alone anymore.
However even being 2, Couchsurfing was always a great way to be budget-friendly and meet interesting people.