It’s been another fantastic slow trip through Mexico. Yet we are currently closing in on our final week in this beautiful country. With our time winding down, we thought to write a little travel update to recap our time roaming around Mexico this year.
This Mexico trip isn’t quite over yet. We still have a few more days here and even a new-to-us destination to explore. But as we post this while packing up from Patzcuaro, this is the conclusion of our slow travel through Mexico. So this travel update to sums up this year’s big Mexico trip.
This isn’t just a diary of our time here. We’re also be dishing out some of our Mexico travel strategies and recommendations. And to give you some sense of how much this all costs, we’re revealing our Mexico trip budget! 💰
By the time we depart, we’ll have been roaming around Mexico for exactly 150 days! That’s a five-month stay and it’s our longest yet. We had initially planned to be in Mexico for about three months. But I guess it’s true how time flies when you’re having fun. Somehow three months grew into five months. Yet in many ways, it feels like we just got here.
But all good things must come to an end.
- Number of days: 150
- Number of states visited: 5
- Number of different places slept: 13
- Hotels: 8 stays, 25 nights
- Airbnbs: 2 stays, 40 nights
- Housesits: 3 housesits, 85 nights
- Average length of stay: 12 nights
- Transport segments: 14
- 2 flights
- 11 buses
- 1 ride with friends (thanks Stephanie & Steve!)
- Distance traveled in Mexico: 2,600 miles (~4,200 kilometers)
Highlights of MX Destinations Visited in 2019
Roaming around Mexico City: Exploring Parks
✈️ Route: Flight, BOG ➡️ MEX
📅 Length of Stay: 2 days
After spending the first three months of the year in Ecuador and Colombia, Mexico City was our entry point back into the county. The plan was to get to Guadalajara. But Mexico City is often the least expensive place to fly in-and-out of, internationally. So why not stay a few days in Mexico’s modern and vibrant capital?
If you’ve never visited Mexico City before, definitely consider a stopover here. It hosts some of Mexico’s best restaurants, museums, history, and attractions.
There’s always something to explore here. During this short 2-day visit, we focused on parks!
Chapultepec Park is Mexico City’s big sprawling central park. It holds numerous museums, the only true royal castle in the Americas, many recreational pursuits, tranquil gardens, street vendors, and even the President’s residence.
The park is bustling on weekends and it’s easy to spend an entire day here. So that’s exactly what we did on a Spring day with the jacaranda trees in full bloom!
Meanwhile, during a trip to Mexico City last year, we inadvertently became annual passholders to Six Flags Mexico. So, we simply had to squeeze in a return visit to this massive theme park. While we always enjoy diving deep into the culture of the places we visit, sometimes it’s fun to let our hair down to enjoy a touristic pursuit.
And it was is great fun! It’s a deal too. With tickets priced at $425 pesos ($21.30 USD), this is likely the least expensive Six Flags theme park in the world. The ticket may be cheap, but the thrills are not!
🏨 Where we stayed: Mala Vecindad Beer Hotel
- 3-star beer-themed hotel in central Mexico City with rates as low as $32/night. Compare prices.
💀 Side note: If traveling around Mexico during late October or early November, consider a trip to Mexico City for Día de Muertos. Key dates for this year’s events were just announced a few weeks ago. So we just updated our post all about the Muertos happenings in CDMX this year.
- Here’s our Guide to Day of the Dead in Mexico City 2019.
Roaming around Guadalajara: Our Favorite Base in Mexico
✈️ Route: Flight, MEX ➡️ GDL
📅 Length of Stay: 51 days (across three separate visits)
Guadalajara was our ultimate destination in Mexico. The capital of the state of Jalisco became our centrally located travel hub during this visit. Over the years, Guadalajara has emerged to become an unlikely favorite city for us while traveling around Mexico.
Why do we like Guadalajara so much? Mexico’s second-largest city boasts an attractive mix of fun local culture and big-city conveniences, making it a very livable place for us to enjoy slowing down. We love attending the mariachi performances, going on the Sunday bike rides, eating at local taco stands, wandering through the historic center, shopping at the local markets and ponying up to the bar at the city’s cantinas.
Yet Guadalajara also offers us the convenience of having access to nice supermarkets, amazing restaurants, and good health care. We’ve found it to be such a comfortable place to slow down and take care of ourselves. So that’s exactly what we did here during three separate visits, totaling 51 days.
Of course, we also had fun further scouting out more of the city’s interesting sights and things to do. This time we explored the artisan town of Tonala, delved into the nearby ruins of Los Guachimontones, and checked out the city’s world-class zoo. It’s all part of an effort of “travel research” so we can finally publish one of our big travel guides to this friendly and welcoming city that we love so much. Stay tuned for that to come!
🏨 Where we stayed: FCH Hotel Providencia
- In between Airbnbs, we’ve been frequenting the FCH hotel in the Providencia neighborhood of Guadalajara. This classy 4-star boutique hotel often has weekday rates as low as $31 per night. We’ve now stayed here four times this year alone and highly recommend the adults-only property for affordable luxury in Guadalajara! Check rates.
Roaming around Tequila: a Must-Do from Guadalajara
🚌 Route: Bus, Guadalajara ➡️ Tequila
📅 Length of Stay: 2 days
We have the opinion that no trip to Guadalajara can be complete without a trip to the town of Tequila! It’s only an hour or two away by bus. And it’s always such a fun and enchanting place to travel in Mexico. One of our favorites!
So before beginning our first housesit of this summer season, we simply had to make an overnight pilgrimage to this magic town. It’s our fourth visit. And it certainly won’t be our last.
While Tequila can easily be pursued as a day trip from Guadalajara, we always advocate for an overnight stay for anyone who has time to do so. That’s when the day-trippers depart, the children come out to play in the streets, and the cantinas open their doors to thirsty customers.
Tequila is an absolutely charming town; one of Mexico’s pueblos magicos. We enjoy simply wandering around and stopping into the plaza to enjoy a drink while life passes by.
We also always visit a new-to-us distillery during every trip to Tequila. During this visit, it was finally Sauza’s turn. We had been putting off going to this big corporate distillery. But they won us over with how they’ve maintained their historic hacienda. And tasty tequila from the barrel, too!
🏨 Where we stayed: Plaza Jardin
- Clean, spacious, comfortable rooms, located right on Tequila’s main plaza for only $30-per-night. Compare prices.
🚂 Side note: If interested in visiting a historic tequila distillery via luxury train,
- See our post about the Tequila Herradura Express!
Roaming around Chapala: Lakeside Living
🚌 Route: Bus Tequila ➡️ Guadalajara ➡️ Chapala
📅 Length of Stay: 33 days
By the end of April, we found ourselves in the town of Chapala to begin a one-month housesit. It was a nice time looking after two dogs for a month along Mexico’s largest inland lake.
We love strolling across the waterfront promenade that is buzzing with local life over the weekend. It became routine to stop for a sunset drink when the sun would plunge behind the mountains surrounding Lake Chapala.
Our trip here together was cut a little short, as one of us had to momentarily return home to tend to a family emergency. Everything is fine now and we eventually reunited again in Chapala. Although we still enjoyed a few weeks in Chapala together, it did feel a bit truncated.
So we hope to return again to Chapala for further exploration throughout its cobblestoned streets and to enjoy the relaxed lakeside living this town is known for.
🏠 Where we stayed: Housesitting
- If interested in housesitting in Mexico, we can recommend HouseSitMexico. That’s where we secured this housesit in Chapala and have lined up most all of our summer housesits here in Mexico. More info here.
Roaming around Colima & Comala: a Pleasant Detour in Route to the Coast
🚌 Route: Bus, Chapala ➡️ Colima
📅 Length of Stay: 2 days
When noticing we had a few days to spare before our next housesitting assignment, it was only logical to set-off to explore a new-to-us city about halfway to our next destination. That’s what brought us to Colima.
Colima isn’t particularly well-known for tourism in Mexico. It’s a government city that is the capital to this small state of the same name. We enjoyed Colima’s pleasant gardens, clean streets, and downhome feeling.
Meanwhile, the neighboring magic town of Comala is known throughout Mexico for its stark white facades of all the buildings here! It reminded us a bit of the white villages found in the mountains of Andalucía, Spain. Interestingly, there’s a strong botanas (Mexican tapas) culture here too, which further leads to those Spanish vibes.
There are also two volcanos that scenically loom over the area. But May’s very hot (and cloudy) weather had us reconsider an itinerary that included trekking. So hopefully we’ll get a chance to do so on a return visit. While Mexico was warming up into June, it was time to cool off in the ocean!
🏨 Where we stayed: Hotel San Pablo
- It ticked all the boxes. Central, clean, comfy and within our budget of $30. Search here.
⛰️ Side note: If interested in hiking around Colima, be sure to connect with our friends Stephanie and Steve, who run Papelillo Adventures. Find their tours on here on Viator and on Airbnb Experiences.
Roaming around La Manzanilla: a Secluded Beach Break
🚌 Route: Bus, Colima ➡️ La Manzanilla
📅 Length of Stay: 34 days
We usually like to spend the summers in the cool climate of Mexico’s highlands. There tends to be an abundance of housesitting opportunities in this region from May-October, so that works out quite nicely for us.
But when a very attractive beachside housesit popped up, we simply had to jump at the opportunity. That’s what brought us to the little pueblo of La Manzanilla!
Overall, we enjoyed our time at the beach. The property we housesat for was one of the nicest places we’ve ever watched over. Perched upon a cliff overlooking the sea, it was muy tranquilo. Here, we had the pleasure of hanging out with two dogs, eight cats, and three horses during our stay.
It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy beach life during the town’s offseason. The beautiful beaches along the coast were virtually empty most days. It was as if we stumbled onto a little slice of paradise. Inexpensive seafood dinners with sunset cervezas became a nightly ritual.
This stretch of the coastline is affectionately known as Costalegre (Happy Coast), and appropriately so. People here in La Manzanilla are so happy and friendly indeed. Perhaps even nicer than the beautiful ocean views was the ability to get to know people living in this small town of about 2,000 people.
Yet ultimately the scorching summer heat wore on us. We’re simply not hot-weather people. So when the homeowners unexpectedly returned home a bit earlier than originally planned, we decided to chart a course back towards the cooler comforts of Guadalajara. But not before a final beach break in one of the Pacific Coast’s most popular destinations.
🏠 Where we stayed: Housesitting
- This was another find organized through HouseSitMexico.
Roaming around Puerto Vallarta: Fun at the Beach
🚌 Route: Bus, La Manzanilla ➡️ Puerto Vallarta
📅 Length of Stay: 6 days
Although we were ready to escape the heat, we couldn’t pass up a chance to finally hit up one of Mexico’s premier beach destinations. So we secured an inexpensive beach resort (with the luxury of air-conditioning) in Puerto Vallarta!
We weren’t quite sure what to expect with PV. Some of Mexico’s other popular beach destinations have been a turn-off for us. But ultimately we really enjoyed Puerto Vallarta! I’d dare say it’s now our favorite among Mexico’s major beach destinations.
Puerto Vallarta is packed with hotels lining the beach. But we found there was a lot more to PV than resort life. It’s a cliffy jungle-laden coastline here. And while it’s easy to plunk down under a beach umbrella at the hotel, there are several secluded coves to venture out to instead.
To save travel funds on PV’s pricier tours, we were able to catch the local bus to snorkeling spots and also jetted around on water taxis to secluded coves. Yet there are fun beach vibes to enjoy right in PV. Lots of vacationing Mexicans were there during our visit. And PV is the gay beach capital of Mexico. So there’s just an accepting and happy feel around town.
And despite an influx of visitors, PV still manages to retain character. Even a block or two away from the broad malecon (boardwalk), there are cobblestone streets, churches, and taco carts. It was a great visit and another place we wouldn’t hesitate to return to.
🏨 Where we stayed: Casa Dona Susana
- With off-season rates at $37, this 3.5-star hotel is a steal. This adults-only hotel is actually across the street from the beach with a rooftop pool. But a stay here gives full beach club access to their sister resort, Playa Los Arcos Resort, pictured below. Check rates.
☮️ Side note: For more musings on PV and another fun travel couple to follow in Mexico, check out our music-loving amigos, Grateful Gypsies who we had a great time with while there. They are pros at teaching English online and base themselves in Puerto Vallarta. So here are 31 kick-ass things to do they recommend in PV.
Roaming around Patzcuaro: Returning to Cool Mountain Air
🚌 Route: Puerto Vallarta 🚌 Guadalajara 🚗 Patzcuaro
📅 Length of Stay: 18 days
After Puerto Vallarta, we went back to Guadalajara for a month. We didn’t do much roaming though. Instead, we focused on future travel plans and caught up on work.
But while back in Guadalajara, we met up with our friends from Patzcuaro who we housesat for last summer. Turns out, they needed housesitters again for a few weeks at the end of August, when we had nothing planned. It was meant to be.
So we squeezed in one final housesit during the past few fleeting weeks here in Mexico. And it’s been great being back in Patzcuaro! We’ve been loving the cooler weather as much as the charm of this intriguing mountain town.
🏨 Where we stayed: Housesitting
- This one was organized directly through our friends.
🔜 Where We’re on our Way to Next: Tijuana!
🚌 Route: Patzcuaro 🚌 Guadalajara ✈️ Tijuana
📅 Length of Stay: 3 days
At the time of posting this, we’re heading back to Guadalajara for a few final days.
But on Friday, we’re excited to be hopping on a flight to the border town of Tijuana! We’ve never been to this region of Mexico before. The state of Baja California will actually mark the 17th of Mexico’s 32 states we’ve visited!
Tijuana sometimes has a gritty reputation. But we think there will likely much more to this town to discover.
Tijuana has one of the best craft beer scenes in Mexico, so we’re particularly excited about that! But in between pints, we also plan to check out the beach and attractions scattered throughout Tijuana’s downtown. We also hope to try a famous dish that was invented in this town that you may be surprised hails from here. Stay tuned for our weekly #FoodieFriday Facebook series to find out!
And if you have any Tijuana recommendations, please let us know! It’s our final stop in Mexico before we make a run for the border!
Mexico Trip Budget
We like to illustrate costs to show just how affordable slow travel in Mexico can be!
A big part of this trip to Mexico was to slow down, get to work, and save for upcoming adventures.
Housesitting in Mexico is a great way for us to do that! It forces us to slow down, which is great. We also save immensely on accommodation costs. Meanwhile, Mexico can also offer a low cost of living/travel.
So exactly how much did this 5-month Mexico trip cost?
After five months, our entire accommodation expense has totaled $1,899 USD.
That’s an average of $379 per month or $12.66 per night. So we’re pretty happy that we were able to get our per-person lodging cost all the way down to $6.33/night! It may be one of our lowest accommodation averages yet, despite staying in some incredible places!
Here’s how it all breaks down by average nightly costs:
- 🏨 Hotels: $34/night
- 🏢 Airbnb full apartments: $25/night
- 🏠 Housesitting: $0
Transportation costs in Mexico are pretty good overall.
We find domestic flights can be very inexpensive. For example, our flight from Mexico City to Guadalajara was $38 per person, including bags. And our upcoming flight to Tijuana is $46.
Meanwhile, prices are more moderate using the excellent first-class bus network. A five-six hour journey usually costs somewhere around $30 per person. This includes drinks, snacks, spacious faux-leather with good reclines, personal seatback TVs, and more comforts. It makes busing around Mexico pretty pleasurable!
Our intercity travel costs total $240 per person, traveling across 14 destinations during this 5-month Mexico trip.
Food & Dining
Buying fresh ingredients at local markets to cook at our apartments and housesits can equate to huge savings. Unfortunately for our budget, we have developed an addiction to eating out in Mexico.
Thankfully that is still a very affordable proposition to us. We tend to eat breakfast wherever we stay, often making it ourselves. But we’ve gotten into the habit of eating out for at least 75%+ of our lunches and dinners.
Sometimes it’s simple street food. Other times we splurge on gourmet dining. Most often, it’s somewhere in between. But either way, it’s always excellent! Mexico is among our favorite food countries, after all.
We did not meticulously track meal expenses during this trip (shame on us). So here are some averages of our dining expenses during the past five months (in USD).
- Tacos and cheap eats: $2-$4
- Mid-scale restaurants: $5-$10
- Upscale gourmet dining: $15-$30.
We estimate having spent about $10-$15 per person, per day, eating all of Mexico’s amazing cuisine.
Total Costs of Roaming Around Mexico 2019
Before totaling all costs, we must add in expenses like the occasional margarita ($2-$3), many short Uber/taxi trips ($2-$3), and infrequent excursions (e.g., Sauza distillery tour, $8.50). Then our total expenses add up to about $4,000 USD per person, over 5 months of travel through Mexico.
Per person, that breaks down to $800 per month, or
- a total of $27 per day, all expenses included.
We’re frequently asked how we can afford to travel. But we hope this shows how we can’t afford not to travel!
Yet now that we’ve had this opportunity to save by maintaining these ultra-low expenses in Mexico, we’re now ready to increase spending again!
Budgeting for world-wide travel is all about balance. Lingering in Mexico in combination with housesitting greatly helps us to balance our budget!
Reflections on Roaming Around Mexico 2019
This has been another great slow roll through Mexico. It’s been nice forming a bond with Guadalajara and coming to the realization of how much we enjoy it there. And despite the beach’s heat, it was great to finally spend an extended time enjoying Mexico’s beautiful Pacific Coast.
It’s been a wonderful trip through Mexico. It always is.
It’ll be bittersweet departing this country we love slowing down in. We’ll be sad to go. In many ways, we feel not quite ready to depart. We’ll particularly miss the culture and the many wonderful people here who consistently make us feel so incredibly welcomed.
Oh, and the tacos! We’ll definitely miss those too.
But those delicious tacos will always be there. And so will Mexico. As we’re getting ready to say goodbye-for-now, I can already foresee us returning in 2020.
But until then, we have much more roaming around the world to do!
For now, we simply want to give a big MUCHAS GRACIAS to Mexico for all of your most gracious hospitality as we roam around your beautiful country!
So What’s Next? 🚢
We have been busy here in Mexico sorting out our travel plans to take us through the rest of the way through 2019. We’re pretty excited about this upcoming itinerary. But we’re out of time, as we’ve got a bus to Guadalajara to catch right now!
So that’ll have to wait until a Part 2 of this travel update that we hope to get posted here in the next few days.
But we’ll drop a few clues, of course…
- Tijuana is not our ultimate destination, of course. But it’s heading in the right direction.
- This next trip will keep true to the name of this site.
- Beginning this next journey should seem familiar to long-time followers. But it’ll progress to be drastically different!
Also, expect a few more posts about Mexico in the coming months. We’ve been taking loads of notes, pictures, and videos along this journey. So even though we’re moving on out, we’re hoping to carve some time to write more informative articles about Mexico.
Thank you for reading and joining in our adventures.
-John & Heather ✈️