How to travel in Mexico for
$30 a day.
Want to travel for months at a time in Mexico? For $30 a day? Without missing out on any of the amazing attractions, food or travel? Easy! Mexico can be a very cheap country to travel in. I’ll show you how you can travel cheap and spend just $30 a day, $900 a month!!
Spend your days relaxing on white sandy beaches with clear turquoise coloured waters. Or exploring the ancient colonial cities rich with culture.
With tourist visas into Mexico at 180 days/6 months, it gives you the chance to travel for months and enjoy everything Mexico has to offer.
Most of the money you’ll spend while travelling is spent on accommodation and food. If you can cut back on those expenses, you will really save yourself a lot of money. Spend less so you can travel longer.
Here is everything from…
- Eat in the chaotic markets
- Cook your own Mexican food
- Staying in hostels
- Pick the best tours
- Volunteer work
- Working in a hostel
- Ride the local buses
- 2nd class and overnight buses
- Get a Mexican phone chip
Also knowing some Spanish will definitely help you to negotiate better prices and avoid being ripped off. Have a read through my How to learn Spanish guide.
Avoid the tourist restaurants. Eat at the markets, small family restaurants and street food
Well not totally avoid. It’s always nice to treat yourself to a nice meal on the main street, around the Zocalo (centre square) or looking at the beach. You still want to do those things, but you shouldn’t be doing it every day. Or for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A meal and a drink there will cost you at least 150 pesos ($9). Which may not seem like much, but daily or twice or three times a day defiantly blows out the budget.
Walk away a few blocks, or find the local food market (every town has one). Look for ‘comida corrida‘ (food on the run) or ‘menu del dia‘ (menu of the day) signs. These are two course meals, soup and a typical Mexican main dish that’s different every day, along with a juice for around 40 pesos ($2.30). And it’s more likely to be more delicious than the food served for the tourists. It’s a chance to get amongst the locals, and even practice a bit of your Spanish. Remember, where the locals are eating is where you want to be eating. The food will be good.
Also there’s no shortage of taco stands and other types of street food. Stop by and pull up a seat. The food is piping hot and cooked right in front of you. You can see exactly how they prepare the food and be your own judge, not like in the restaurants. Find somewhere that is busy and using plastic gloves to handle the money. I’ve never had any troubles with eating street food and it’s a great experience.
Cook a few meals and/or make your breakfast
There is so much fresh fruit and vegetables in the Mexican markets and it’s super cheap. Cut yourself up some fresh fruit for breakfast or go and buy some cereal and milk.
Most of the hostels will have a kitchen. So go shopping in the markets and cook up some of your own Mexican food a few nights a week. Either cook for yourself, or share the cost with some other travellers. You will be eating for just a dollar or two.
Couchsurfing.com is FREE accommodation. If you haven’t heard of it, when travelling, you can find people to host you in their house. Sometimes you get a couch to sleep on, your own room, or I’ve even had my own apartment because my host had two places in the same town. It’s also the best way to meet locals. Most of the time they will want to show you around their town, take you to their favourite places to eat and meet all their friends. You can split up your travels between hostels and couchsurfing.
Be sure to read the profiles of the couchsurfers. Make sure they have friends and good reviews.
Stay in hostels
Dorm rooms! Hostels are going to be the cheapest accommodation you’ll find. And the most fun.Hostelworld.com is the only way to go. The average dorm room price in Mexico is about 150 pesos ($8) a night. They will also have privates rooms if dorms aren’t your thing. But that’ll cost you a bit more.
Prices vary for dorm rooms. I’ve stayed in places for 50 pesos ($3) a night in San Jose del Pacifico (the Magic mushroom capital of Mexico), and also for 200 pesos ($12) a night in other places like Mexico City.
Once you arrive in a town, it’s actually possible to find a private room in a cheap family run hotel for the same price you would pay for a dorm bed. These are never advertised online though, you’ll have to walk around and find them.
Pick the best tours
Every town you go to will have tours and day trips. You can’t do every tour everywhere you go, so get a bit fussy. Sometimes it’s a convenience thing. For example, some tours can be replaced by doing it yourself. Take the local bus for 7 pesos (.40 cents) and get dropped off right out the front. Or some tours might be going to 2-3 different places and offer great value. Decide what you really want to see.
Tours to ruins are fantastic and stacked full of fascinating history and stories. Although I normally have forgotten all the info by the end of the day 😉
Entrance fees to most ruins and major museums is around $3.
Do some volunteer work
Get a real feel for Mexico. There are loads of places you can do volunteer work in Mexico in exchange for accommodation and sometimes food included too.
Best websites to check out are wwooflatinamerica.com They connect travellers to organic farms. There is a $20 per year fee, but it will save you loads of money on accommodation and food. It’s a great opportunity to help out some local farmers. Usually working about 5-7 hours a day, 5-6 days a week.
Workaway.info has all types of volunteer work in Mexico. Anything from hostel/hotel work, construction in small villages, computer programming, teaching English in remote areas and working in yoga retreats. Anything. Also has a sign up fee of $29. But a small price to pay for what you’ll get.
Work in a hostel
Work in your favourite hostel. It’s fun and a great way to save money. If you love the town you’re in and the hostel, ask them if you can work there. You’ll usually work around 4-6 hours a day with one or two days off a week in exchange for free accommodation. The hourly rate doesn’t work out too well, but you won’t be working too hard. Just checking people in and out at the front desk usually. You’ll spend most of your time chatting to other travellers which you would be doing anyway.
Avoid taxis and take the local buses
You know those crazy buses and colectivos driving all around town? Or you can imagine? They will cost you about 7 pesos (40 cents) a ride. Taxis may seem cheap in Mexico, but they slowly eat into the budget. So when you want to go to the beach, or the other side of town or to the next town… take the bus. Or if you’re in Mexico City, take the Metro for 5 pesos (30 cents). It’s also a great way to live a little like the locals.
I always advise taking taxis at night though.
I’ve got some basic Travel Spanish to help you out with how to ask for directions.
Take 2nd class busses instead of 1st class
ADO is the main 1st class bus company in Mexico, along with OCC. And I like to take them for the overnight trips as they’re a lot more comfortable and i can get some sleep. But they can be a little expense if you don’t book them 3-4 days in advance. For bus rides during the day, or shorter 3-6 hour trips, find the 2nd class bus station. The prices will be half the cost.
If you have a long bus trip of 8+ hours, it’s a good idea to take an overnight bus to save paying for a nights accommodation.
Have a few beers at the hostel before a big night out
Heading out to party in Mexico or anywhere you travel is a must! So make sure you have a few beers/tequilas/mezcales before you go out. It’ll save you loads and you’ll also hit the clubs primed and ready to go 😉
A beer in the tienda/shop will cost around 13 pesos (80 cents) compared to 30-50 pesos ($2-$4) in the bars. And if you’re drinking cocktails, they’re going to cost you 60-100 pesos ($4-$7).
Get a Mexican chip for your phone
Before you come to Mexico, unlock your phone so you can buy a local chip. You can still message home through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. A Mexican chip will be the cheapest way to call ahead to hostels/hotels, friends and info about any tours you want to do. And a lot cheaper on your data use. I’m with Telcel and never had a problem.
Fill up your water bottle at the hostel
Before you leave for the day, fill up your water bottle. It’s free! So take advantage. When the weathers hot and you’re out seeing the sights or just walking around town, you will want to buy some nice cold water. But the free one at the start of the day is a must.
Hand wash some clothes
Now this isn’t something I’m a big fan of. Getting your clothes washed at a lavanderia here will only cost you about $1 per kilo, so for me I’d rather do that. But if you’re looking to really save a couple bucks wherever you can, it can be a good idea.
Mexico Average Daily budget
Accommodation – $8
Food – $10
Transport – $2
Couple beers – $2
Coffee – $1
Cold drinks – $2
+ $5 allowance for extras, buses to travel and tours you will do.
Average Total Per Day – $30
There it is, $30 a day! And it can be done quite easily. I think $30 is being generous too. It can be done cheaper but you don’t want to be missing out on anything. Of course there will be days you spend more, some days less.
Overall, you’ll have days where you don’t do anything but hang out at the hostel, walk around town or just a day at the beach, mixed in with eating at restaurants occasionally, the odd big night out in the bar/clubbing, an overnight bus trip or a tour, you can see that it’s quite easy to travel around Mexico for just $30 a day!!
If you are couchsurfing or volunteering, maybe you can spend as little as $0-$10 a day.
I hope these tips have helped and given you an idea of how your money can really last in Mexico. And given you a bit of inspiration.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina