25 Ways to Save Money on Your Mexican Getaway

PHOTO: A woman walks on the beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (photo via Dirima/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Holly Johnson
by Holly Johnson
Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Fri March 23, 2018

How to Save on Paradise

If you're aching for the white sand beaches, delicious seafood dishes, and carefree attitude found in Mexico, now may be the ideal time to book. These tips can help you score a Mexican getaway for less than you'd pay to stay in other, comparable tropical destinations.

Book an All-Inclusive Resort

All-inclusive resorts offer you room, food, drink and entertainment for one low nightly rate. Mexico's resort cities are bursting with all-inclusive options from big brands like El Cid, Hyatt, and Barcelo. Compare destinations and resorts to find the best deal.

Consider Los Cabos

Where you book in Mexico can make a huge difference in the price of your trip. Consider Los Cabos for its many affordable lodging options, stunning scenery and recreational activities like whale watching and stand-up paddle boarding. Plan on indulging in cheap, authentic Mexican food. Fish tacos, anyone?

Look at Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya extends down the beautiful coast of Quintana Roo, offering an array of all-inclusive resorts with stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear water. Book a cheap trip to Cancun for its party scene or opt for serene Tulum for its cheap lodging options, yoga retreats, and ancient Mayan ruins.

Pick Up the Hyatt Credit Card

If you're angling to get your hotel covered for free, consider the Hyatt credit card. This card lets you earn points you can redeem at numerous all-inclusive properties, including Hyatt Ziva and Zilara resorts in Cancun, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta.

Get the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

The IHG Rewards credit card lets you rack up points that are good for stays at Holiday Inns and other IHG brand properties across Mexico. Possibilities include the Holiday Inn Los Cabos all-inclusive resort for 40,000 points per night or InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort for 35,000 points per night, among others.

Visit Mazatlan

When it comes to exploring Mexican getaways on a budget, don't forget the historic city of Mazatlan. This lively town offers gorgeous beaches, an infamous Malecon known for its fun Pulmonia rides, affordable Mexican cuisine using only the finest ingredients and hotels starting at just $40 per night.

Use a Travel Agent

Travel agents are trained to help you save money on any trip, including vacations to Mexico. Seek out a travel agent for help scoring a deal to a Mexican resort with airfare and special perks like resort credits included.

Book Free Hotels with Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards offers several all-inclusive hotels in Mexico you can book for free with rewards. Pick up a Wyndham Rewards credit card to score free nights at the Viva Wyndham Maya or Viva Wyndham Azteca in Playa del Carmen.

Look for Luxury on a Budget

Luxury may cost less than you think in Mexico, and that's especially true at the new TRS Yucatan Hotel- an adults-only VIP "hotel within a hotel" within the Grand Palladium Resorts of the Mayan Riviera. Basic rooms start at $400 per night and include food and drink, premium liquor, huge soaking tubs, butler service and 5-star pampering.

Sign Up for a Southwest Credit Card

Southwest Airlines offers inexpensive flights to Mexico and your first two checked bags free. Sign up for a co-branded Southwest credit card to earn miles you can redeem for flights to Cancun, Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta. Round-trip flights to Mexico can be found for 20,000 miles plus taxes and fees.

Look at Other Airline Credit Cards

Most major airlines fly to Mexico and many offer frequent flyer programs that let you book flights for free. Consider co-branded airline credit cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer card, British Airways Visa or JetBlue Card to earn miles good for flights to Mexico and beyond.

Book Excursions Through Chase

Travel to Mexico is exciting on its own but you'll want to get off the resort to get the full experience. Fortunately, Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you book snorkeling excursions, whale watching tours, day trips to Mayan ruins and other exciting tours with points.

Explore Day Trips on Viator

If you don't have credit card points to burn, compare prices for top Mexican excursions and tours on Viator.com. This website lets you compare prices and read reviews on popular Mexican day trips, then book with local Mexican vendors from the comfort of your home.

Utilize City Buses

Renting a car in Mexico can be pricey and confusing but many cities offer bus routes that are both affordable and convenient. Cancun's public buses cost less than $1 per leg, for example, while transporting tourists from their hotels to other parts of the city for sightseeing and shopping.

Pick Up a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Some credit cards tack an extra 3 percent on your purchases abroad in the form of a foreign transaction fee. Consider the Discover it Miles, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard or Chase Sapphire Reserve to avoid this fee for all purchases made overseas.

Compare Prices in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is yet another affordable and charming town to consider for any Mexican trip. This bustling city offers inexpensive hotels and all-inclusive resorts, a thriving party scene, a walkable main drag and a variety of cheap eateries offering authentic Italian food, Mexican, Asian Fusion and more.

Haggle for Deals

Shopping in Mexico is an experience in itself, mostly because you can haggle for deals. Before you pay the asking price for souvenirs, ask each vendor for their lowest price. Be ready to walk and you could get authentic Mexican clothing, handmade dolls and other keepsakes for a lot less.

Search for Package Deals

Websites like Expedia.com, Travelocity.com and CheapCaribbean.com offer package deals with hotel and flights included. Explore your options and compare websites to find the best price on a vacation package that includes transportation and lodging.

Bring Your Own Snorkel Gear

Mexican beaches are perfect for snorkeling, especially in Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. In many spots, you can see amazing sea life directly from shore. Pack your own snorkel gear to avoid paying a rental fee and the ability to snorkel when and where you want.

Book a Cheap Condo

While Mexico may be known for its all-inclusive resorts, you can also consider booking condos or private homes through websites like Airbnb and VRBO.com. Having a condo with your own kitchen makes it easy to save on food costs since you can shop at the store and make some meals at "home."

Find Cheap Eats

Speaking of food, get off the beaten path in any Mexican resort town and you'll find plenty of it for much lower prices than you find at home. Visit authentic Mexican eateries for locally grown produce and fresh seafood, spicy fish tacos and Mezcal cocktails for cheap.

Pay in Pesos

While you can buy souvenirs in American dollars in many Mexican cities, you'll often pay more if you do. Save money by converting your cash to Mexican pesos and paying local prices without a tourist upcharge.

Bring Sunscreen

Mexican resorts are famous for charging outrageous sums of money for sunscreen. Bring your own sunscreen from home and you can use the brand you want without paying an outrageous price or feeling extorted.

Pack Cash for Tips

If you're staying at an all-inclusive resort or traditional hotel, you need cash to tip servers, drivers and anyone who handles your luggage. Bring small bills from home (ones and fives) and you can avoid costly ATM fees or fees for exchanging big bills for small ones.

Check Out Akumal

Akumal offers the same beautiful beaches as the resort of Riviera Maya but with smaller crowds and lower prices. The region is also known for its affordable outdoor activities, ranging from cenote dives to snorkeling with sea turtles.

Follow these tips to get the most bang for your buck south of the border.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me