Mexico – How to save money and travel on a budget

Mexico Budget Guide

Last Updated on November 5, 2022

Yes, it’s possible to travel Mexico with a 12$ a day budget! I did it and I’m going to show you how. Using a few simple tricks, I was able to save hundreds of dollars while traveling in Mexico. Read on to discover exactly what I did and what you can implement to save money when traveling.

Mexico budget tips

1 – Slow travel

What is slow travel? When you slow travel, you spend more time at the same place, you don’t rush from one city to another. Slow travel is the key to traveling on the cheap, the more destinations you try to fit into your trip, the more money you’ll spend. I don’t really slow travel for budget reasons, it’s just because I like to spend more time in a place, to really get to know it. For example, I’ve spent 4 days in Morelia when a day is enough to visit it. I’ve stayed 10 days in Queretaro, just because I liked the vibes there.

Morelia Cathedral, Michoacan, Mexico
Morelia Cathedral

2 – Focus on one zone

Mexico is a huge country, if you try to visit it from north to south, in a short span of time, you’ll probably have to fly, which adds to the overall budget. For this trip, I focused on Central Mexico, I never spend more than 4 hours on a bus. I chose destinations that were close to each other to save on transportation.

3 – Use BlablaCar and carpooling Facebook Groups

BlablaCar is a carpooling platform that works really well in Mexico, mostly for rides from cities to cities. The good thing about it is that it’s faster than taking the bus and also 50% cheaper. You can also check out Facebook groups, there are tons of those, usually, there’s a group for each route. They’re a bit hard to find, so try to ask a local about it, and they usually need to approve you first so send your request well ahead.

Concrete road

4 – Visit the touristic places on your own

I saved hundreds of dollars not taking tours and going on my own instead. Public transportation is usually good and easy to use, so there’s nothing keeping you from visiting independently rather than by taking a tour. Sometimes though, it can be tricky. For example, when I visited the Huasteca Potosina, most sights are not accessible via public transportation, and the tours are around 100$ each, so not an option for me. Instead, I hitchhiked and it was just fine. There’s usually always a way to visit the main tourist spots on your own,

5 – Use Couchsurfing

In two months of travel, I’ve spent 0$ on accommodation, yes you’ve read that right 0$ in two months. Couchsurfing allows you to stay at someone’s house for free, you have to see it as a cultural exchange. Most hosts will expect you to spend some time with them. Couchsurfing is not for everyone, I personally love it because it gives you so much insights on the culture of the country you’re traveling in, and it’s a great way not to feel lonely when you’re solo traveling.

You can also check out Work Away, in exchange for a few hours of work a day, you’ll get a free room and meals.

Woman, Market in Mexico

6 – Cut back on food and drinks

Food and drinks are usually a huge part of your budget when you’re traveling, but it’s also an easy part to reduce. If you couchsurf, people will usually also feed you, if not, you have access to a kitchen so you can just buy things at the market and cook. Cooking your own meals will save you a lot of money. For example, the typical Mexican breakfast (huevos a la Mexicana) costs around 60 to 100 pesos at the restaurant. If you make it yourself, it will cost you less than 20 pesos. The same goes for drinks, apart from water, you don’t really need beers or juice.

This part of budgeting will really depend on you. For me, I like Mexican food but after a few days I get sick of it and prefer to cook, and I don’t really drink either, so it’s not a hard expanse to cut back. If you enjoy drinking a cold beer after a long day, then go for it. If cooking for you is hell, then go out. The key is to find the right balance between what you’re willing to spend and what’s important to you.

What about you? What are your tips and tricks to save money when traveling?

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Mexico Budget Guide