Greetings from the Sunshine State! We’re currently roaming around Florida and it sure is living up to its nickname!
We’re back here in the USA and it’s been a while since our last travel update on the blog. So as we’re passing back through the States, we figured this would be an opportune time to pause for a sec and catch up with y’all!
After a road trip through the US South that began with an ice storm in Virginia’s mountains, we’ve finally arrived in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Yet we may not be here long enough to enjoy it, as we’re departing yet again tomorrow.
We’ll drop some hints as to where we’re heading next. But first, we want to close out our Mexico travels of the year by reflecting on what we’ve been up to down there.
Roaming Around Mexico 2018
If you’ve been following our Facebook Page, then you’re probably keenly aware of the Mexican adventures we’ve been up to over the summer and into the fall.
We just spent 5 months roaming around Mexico! It’s now the most consecutive days we’ve ever spent in the same country.
This year’s slow roll through Mexico was exactly what we needed, as we’ve wound down our fifth year of Roaming Around the World. (Yes, five years!)
After completing our grand journey of circling the globe without flights, it felt great to kick back in this fun & relaxing country that we love so much. Our slower pace in Mexico was not only what our souls needed, but our bank account certainly appreciated it too!
After splurging earlier this year on travels from Korea to France, a dozen or so countries in between and some lengthy cruises to connect those dots, lingering in Mexico helped greatly to successfully balance our travel budget for the year. Yet, Mexico being Mexico, it was also a lot of fun!
It’s why we keep returning to Mexico year after year. Well, that and the tacos, of course!
…and the tequila. And the people. And the fiestas. And the culture. Ah, there’s so much we love about traveling through Mexico!
Our 2018 Mexico Trip in a Nutshell
- Length of Time: 5 months
- Places We Stayed: 22
- Mexico States Visited: 8
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 10
During this five-month adventure through Mexico, we stayed in 22 different places in eight different states. Some areas were completely new to us and further fueled our wanderlust for this beautiful country. Colonial charms like Queretaro, Patzcuaro, Morelia, and Cuernavaca were eye-opening.
Yet we couldn’t resist revisiting some old favorites too. Returning to places like Tulum, Merida, Guadalajara, Ajijic, and Guanajauto were breaths of fresh air. It can be really nice to arrive and actually already know a city layout and where to good tacos are!
We began our 150-day Mexico adventure back in June, in the familiar area of the Yucatan peninsula, amidst back-to-back tropical waves striking the region. Yet we still managed to make the most of our time in the Yucatan.
Between the storms and the heat, we took to the air to land in the cooler mountain climate that Mexico’s central colonial highlands offers, where we spent the bulk of our Mexico roaming.
We ultimately bounced around quite a bit during this five-month stint south of the border. Despite maintaining what’s been our slowest pace during the past five years of constant travel, we actually managed to change locations an average of every seven days!
Perhaps it wasn’t such a slow trip through Mexico after all. With our constantly itchy feet, we have a hard time sitting still. Old habits die hard.
As we reflect back on our time in Mexico this year, it was truly such an enjoyable stay.
Where We Stayed
Our Travel Route, Where We Stayed: Tulum 🚗 Valladolid 🚗 Merida 🚗 Palenque 🚗 Progreso 🚗 Merida 🚗 Santa Elena 🚗 Oxkutzcab 🚗 Merida ✈️ Guadalajara 🚍 Guanajuato 🚍 Queretaro 🚍 Morelia 🚍 Patzcuaro 🚍 Ajijic 🚍 Tequila 🚍 Ajijic 🚕 Riberas del Pilar 🚍 Guadalajara 🚕 Ajijic 🚍 San Miguel Allende 🚍 Guanajuato 🚍 Mexico City 🚕 Cuernavaca
- Hotels: 16 hotels
- Airbnbs: 3 Airbnbs
- Housesits: 3 housesits
In between some fast and fun travel stints throughout Mexico, we did manage to relax our fast tendencies by pursuing three housesits. We did two longer-term sits that lasted over a month each; first in the colonial town of Patzcuaro and then in the popular lakeside expat community of Ajijic. We greatly enjoyed both locations, each with a completely different appeal.
For those unfamiliar with housesitting, it’s something we do as an unpaid exchange. We watch over a house while caring for pets and other simple maintenance. In return, we gain a comfortable place to live for a little while. So it helps us to save on accommodation costs, while also giving us the perk of having some temporary pets to hang out with.
In between housesits, we stayed in a mix of hotels and Airbnb apartments. In total, we stayed in 16 hotels for 31 nights and 3 Airbnb apartments for 30 nights.
We spent an average of $29.91 per night on our hotel stays, mostly 3-star and boutique hotels. And further spent an average of $34.53 per night for our 2-bedroom Airbnb apartment rentals.
We share these expenses in an attempt to illustrate the affordability of traveling and living in Mexico. Since we housesat along the way, this lowered our accommodation expense all the way down to $13.26 per night when averaged out throughout our entire Mexico trip. That’s less than seven bucks a person!
It’s now the lowest we’ve ever averaged during our five years of travel. So as two budget travelers who get a thrill from achieving high travel values, we’re pretty happy about this feat!
Perhaps it’s time to splurge a little again, hehe.
Top Highlights from Roaming Around Mexico 2018
We really packed in a lot while roaming around Mexico over the past five months. As such, we’d be here all day giving you a recap. So as we take a fond look back at our time here this year, the handful of highlights recounts our favorite experiences.
Extreme caving adventure in the Yucatan – This was awesome. We’ve done lots of caving throughout our travels but the claustrophobic squeezes while slithering past ancient Mayan relics here in the middle of nowhere in the Yucatan took this adventure to the next level. You can read more about this adventure, among others in the region, in our: Yucatan Day Trips travel guide.
Road-tripping around the ancient Mayan world of Ruta Puuc – The Yucatan’s most famous Mayan ruins, like Chichen Itza, are indeed very impressive sights. Yet their popularity attracts so many people and hawkers that it can sometimes detract from the overall experience. That’s why we love driving the Ruta Puuc! It’s being able to enjoy this series of lesser-visited ruins in tranquility that makes this Yucatan road trip so special. You can read more in the guide we wrote about Ruta Puuc: The Yucatan’s Road Trip Across the Ancient Mayan World.
There are thousands of these underground pools of water scattered across the peninsula. And we take great pleasure in discovering new cenotes on each visit. This year we explored a half dozen or so new-to-us cenotes, some were our favorites yet. The cenote below even surprised us with butterflies! You can read more about the Yucatan’s cenotes in that big Yucatan Day Trip travel guide.
Hiking up one of the world’s largest monoliths! There’s an enormous rock towering above Mexico called Peña de Bernal and it’s an awesome trek to head towards the top! We had no idea that this awesome natural attraction was lying right in the central highlands. What makes the trek even better is the seemingly endless michelada and gordita vendors waiting at the bottom to reward you for your hiking efforts.
The town in the rock’s shadow is a scenic charmer too. And it also doesn’t hurt that the entire area is surrounded by Mexico’s second largest wine region. Mexico is full of surprises! You can read more about this and other things to do around here in our travel guide to Queretaro.
Summiting the World’s Youngest Volcano – Getting here was quite a challenge for us that involved taking some rural buses for a few hours before mounting a hard wooden saddle in which a horse brought us to the base of this volcano for a near vertical climb to the top.
It was an amazing experience to reach the steamy cone of the youngest volcano on earth. Meanwhile, the church ruins that lay intertangled with the harden molten lava was another astonishing sight that lay in the path of the this youngest volcano in the world. We took lots of pics and video of this natural wonder, so we do hope to write more about his awesome adventure.
Drinking our way across the town of Tequila – Tequila is now one of our favorite pueblo magicos (magic towns) in Mexico. Sure, the distilleries are interesting to visit. Yet it’s the cantinas throughout Tequila that are even more fun! Heck, even simply sitting in the charming plaza sipping on a tequila-filled cantarito drink makes for a great time.
Add in a gorgeous town surrounding and even some nearby waterfall treks to help walk off that hangover, and drinking tequila in Tequila all culminates to one of our favorite experiences in Mexico this year. ¡Salud!
Celebrating Dia de Muertos in Mexico City – Despite so many trips to Mexico, we’ve never managed to be in the country during the very special holiday of Day of the Dead. With a seemingly endless array of very attractive options throughout Mexico to experience the holiday, we ended up going right to the capital city.
The fiestas went on for about a full week! It was an equally fun & warming experience that has certainly gone down as one of the most interesting cultural events we’ve experienced around the world. You can read here about these happenings during Day of the Dead in Mexico City.
Eating Our Way Across the Country – Mexican food is easily one of our favorite cuisines. Whether a street stall or a fine meal, all the food in Mexico seems to have such keen attention to detail, bold flavors, unique ingredients, and a composition made with love. We never grow tired of it.
All the different regional cuisines only adds to our interest and intrigue. From fresh Mexican ceviche along the Atlantic coast, to succulent cochinita pibil that’s been cooked in the warm grounds of the Yucatan, to Queretaro’s most scrumptious vegetarian gorditas, to the rich corundas (tamales) we devoured in Patzcuaro, to that fantastic white pozole (soup) that we had as our final meal in Cuernavaca before departing this delicious country, and countless amazing regional dishes in between.
It sure has made for some flavorful #FoodieFriday posts over the months!
Yet what sticks out to us most on this trip was the regional dishes in the state of Jalisco, where we spent the most time. From the first bite of a torta ahogada, a pork sandwich dripping drowned with sauce, I was in love. In fact, I spent the next five days straight eating one for lunch. That is, until I discovered birria and Jalisco-style tacos barbacoa. Tasting our way across Mexico is truly one of the country’s greatest pleasures.
And if you’re scratching your head right now because you haven’t a clue what some of these dishes are, don’t worry. We’ve already begun drafting a post of what we think are all the best local foods to try in Mexico. Stay tuned for that.
Touring Friends Around the Best of Mexico’s Colonial Highlands! We invited some close friends of ours to tour them around some of our favorite places in the region. It was their first time in the country and they absolutely loved it.
But it was arguably even more fun for us to have the opportunity to show them around and watch their faces light up with smiles. We often write about places in Mexico, post photos, and even share the occasional video. But there’s truly something magical south of the border that is indescribable and simply needs to be experienced. It was so awesome for us to be able to share this magic with our friends. It even ignited a spark in us to potentially do it again, maybe even with you!
Roaming Around the World Tours?
Maybe. Taking our friends for a tour around Mexico was also a bit of an experiment, as we consider potentially launching a tour in 2019.
We put a nice little package together that can be easily recreated. We toured around the historic sights throughout Guadalajara, watched mariachi performances, pedaled past monuments during the Sunday bike ride and cheered on the lucha libre wrestling match. We also had a very fun-filled day in the town of Tequila, roaming around the agave fields, visiting distilleries, and drinking the town’s namesake liquor. Our tour continued with a relaxing spa day on Lake Chapala and an amazing horseback ride through the mountains towering above Mexico’s largest lake.
The Mexico charm continued into the colonial beauty and delicious eats that San Miguel de Allende is known for. And finally, we ended the week & half trip by exploring the most colorful alleyways of one of our favorite cities in Mexico, Guanajuato!
So will we be running a tour like this next year? That’s what we’ve been pondering.
We received some very positive and encouraging feedback from those who follow us on Facebook, where we announced this possibility a few months ago. Yet there are still legal hurdles to jump through and logistical details to work out to actually make such a tour a reality.
So we’re not quite there yet. But it’s something we are still working on, as we’d like to make such a tour a reality.
If you think you may be interested in taking a tour of Mexico’s colonial highlands next year, you can click over here for some more info, answer a few quick questions, and be the first to be notified. (And if you’ve already filled out this form when we posted it on FB in October – thank you!)
A Thanksgiving Road Trip Through the US South
After we departed Mexico, we went up to Virginia to visit our family for the Thanksgiving holiday. Since then, we picked up a rental car relocation deal that we’ve been slowly driving through the South to get it down to our home state of Florida, where we find ourselves now.
The highlight of that drive was a day trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore, where we got to hike around the island, learn about its history, enjoy natural beaches, and see the famous wild horses that abound.
Read more about Cumberland Island here.
So Where To Next?
Yet while visiting with friends and family, the #1 question everyone keeps asking us is:
🤔 Where to Next?
That’s a great question!
But we don’t want you to have to read a novel here today. So we’re going to get into that in more detail tomorrow – Monday, December 10, when we’ll have another new post, Part 2 of this travel update, discussing what we’re getting up to in the remaining weeks of 2018 in addition to our potential plans for 2019!
Update: Part 2 has been posted here.
We’re actually busy packing our bags right now, which is another reason why I’m bringing this post to a sudden close. So as we wrap things up, here are some clues as to where we’re heading tomorrow:
💶 Clue #1: We’ll be using the leftover Euros from our Italy-France trip earlier this year, but we won’t be stepping foot in Europe.
🧥 Clue #2: I’m packing a jacket, although we’re not going anywhere even remotely cold.
✈️ Clue #3: We’re excited to visit three new countries we’ve never been to before, yet we won’t be getting on a plane.
🎁 There’s a bonus hint buried towards the end of our Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers, which you should also check out just to get some good value travel gift ideas. There are only 16 shopping days left before Christmas! Find our gift guide here.
For those who’ve been following our journey for a while, the above clues should give you a pretty good idea of what we’re about to get up to over the next few weeks. Any guesses?
-John & Heather