Though I live in California, only six hours north of the Mexico-U.S. border, I’ve never been to Mexico. Until recently. I always wanted to go, however, at the same time, it wasn’t at the top of my list–so many other places to go… What I didn’t take into consideration was that because it’s so close, it’s cheaper to travel to and that everything costs so much less in Mexico.
As I went to Mexico for a conference, the majority of my airfare was paid for. Therefore, my expenses were fairly low as compared to other places. Compared to where I live in California, I found everything exceptionally cheap.
- Airfare from San Luis Obispo Airport (a small county airport) to Puerto Vallarta and from Mexico City to San Luis Obispo Airport $644
- Airfare from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City $52
- Four nights in an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta (Fiesta Americana) FREE
- Three nights in an Airbnb in Puerto Vallarta $66
- Five nights in an Airbnb in Mexico City $86
Taxi from resort to downtown Puerto Vallarta 65-70 pesos/$3.25-3.50
- Taxi from Airbnb to airport in Puerto Vallarta 120 pesos/ $6
- One-way bus in Puerto Vallarta 7.50 pesos/40 cents
- One-way subway in Mexico City 5 pesos/25 cents
- One-way bus in Mexico City 4 pesos/20 cents
- Glass of wine at pizza restaurant 50 pesos/$2.50
- Glass of wine at fancy restaurant 85-144 pesos/$4.25-7.25
- Meal at a family restaurant 80 pesos/$4
- Meal at fancy, trendy restaurant (included mocojete with mixed meats, two glasses of wine, dessert and coffee) 600 pesos/$30
- One-way taxi from Airbnb to airport 200 pesos/$10 (I was overcharged for sure, but didn’t argue since I wanted to spend the last of my pesos anyway)
Something I’ve learned over the years of traveling is that it is cheaper to get local currency from the ATM or to pay with a credit card. I only used my debit card to get money out of the ATM (I was charged to use the ATM and a foreign transaction fee). The rest of the time I used my credit card, which did not charge me any transaction fees.
I loved Mexico for its rich history and culture, especially Mexico City, but also the great exchange rates and how cheap everything was. Every time someone would tell me the cost of something and I’d repeat it incredulously, the person would either lower the price or ask me if it was expensive. It became a challenge of mine to see how fancy of a place and how much I could order. My most expensive meal was $30 including tax and tip for an appetizer, entree, 2 glasses of wine, dessert and a cup of coffee. At home, I once ordered off the starter menu and got one glass of wine for $30 not including tip at a comparable restaurant.